One of the things that I love about the Catholic Faith is that it sprang forth from the Jewish Faith, and continues to embrace many old traditions with new meaning. The similarities are not hidden. The candles and prayers of Advent and Hanukah immediately spring to mind.
Pentecost Sunday has its roots in Shavuot, the original harvest festival. The idea of giving thanks to God for the harvest of wheat that is central in the Ember Days of Summer. The days preceding Pentecost share many of the same ties to Judaism. Just as the Carmelites can be traced back to the time before Christ.
The prophet Elijah dwelt on Mount Carmel. It was here that he prayed to God for salvation of Israel who suffered a terrible drought. Elijah continued to pray, sending his servant up the mountain several times to look for signs of rain. On the seventh try, Elijah’s servant returned with good news. “Behold a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (1 Kings 1:44). Soon thereafter, torrential rains fell upon the parched land and the people of Israel were saved.
Elijah saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The hermits who lived on Mount Carmel followed Elijah’s example and prayed for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin, who would become the mother of the Messiah. The origins of the Carmelite Order can be traced back to this. So in a way, Elijah’s followers were the first to observe a devotion to Mary.
On Sunday July 16, 1251, as Saint Simon Stock knelt in prayer, Our Lady appeared to him, holding the Child Jesus in one arm and the Brown Scapular in the other. She uttered the following words: “Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hoc habitu moriens salvabitur” Latin Translation: This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved. This is the reason July 16 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Carmel.
When I was a little girl, I thought Our Lady of Carmel should be a dedication to Caramel Sundays or Caramel Apples or a thousand other Caramel Treats. And that Carmel, California should hose a feast dedicated to all things caramel. While I now understand the traditions behind the feast of Our Lady of Carmel, I still like the idea of a big party in the streets of Carmel.
What would a party be without cake?
Butter Cake with Caramel Frosting
3 cups Sugar
1-1/2 cups Butter
3-1/2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1-1/4 cups Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, and eggs together in a bowl. Beat well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift flour, baking powder, and teaspoon salt together. Add to the sugar mixture alternately with milk, into the flour mixture. Add vanilla extract. Beat until batter makes ribbons when falling from the whisk or beater. Divide batter among the prepared cake pans.
Bake in the heated oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from the pan, continue to cool on a rack at least another hour before frosting.
1 (16 oz) package Powdered Sugar
1 (16 oz) package Brown Sugar
1 cup Butter
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2/3 cup Evaporated Milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Sift powdered sugar, set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, and salt. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add evaporated milk; continue to stir; bringing mixture to a gentle boil. Let bubble for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and allow to cool, about 5 minutes.
Mix powdered sugar and vanilla extract into the butter-milk mixture using an electric mixer until icing caramelizes and thickens to the desired consistency.
Frost the tops of each cake layer, then stack cakes one on top of the other on a serving platter. Frost sides. Refrigerate until 15 minutes before slicing.
Have a blessed and wonderful day!