Celebrate the feast of St. Januarius Sept. 19 with a classic Italian sandwich.
by Ryan Langr
St. Januarius was an early fourth-century martyr and bishop of Naples, Italy. He is perhaps most famous because at least three times a year, his dried blood miraculously liquefies. Though very little about his life is confirmed, his legend speaks of a dedicated bishop who protected his people from persecution at the cost of his own life.
He is celebrated every year around cities with large concentrations of Italians, and especially in Naples, where massive crowds gather to watch his blood liquefy.
Many cities, especially New York’s Little Italy, host celebrations ranging from a single day up to nearly two weeks. These celebrations tend to include parades, entertainment, carnival-like games, and of course food! One of the most popular foods is a meatball sub with red peppers, but there is also a chicken version, which we will be making today. Relatively quick and easy, this Chicken San Gennaro is a great way to celebrate the feast and his Italian heritage.
As I sit here frying chicken with my 3-year-old daughter, amidst a Church embroiled in another scandal, and my own faith in the Church in question, I’m not sure what to say to her anymore. I am still Catholic, but one who might never look at the Church in the same way. What kind of Church do I want for my daughter? Surely not the current one.
So I sit in relative silence, listening to her chatter on about her day, how excited she is for preschool, and whatever Disney princess she identifies with that day. But what do I teach her? Perhaps that sometimes its OK to just exist — to not move either forward or backward, but just exist as we currently are and take time to heal.
I don’t know if prayers and penance is enough, although an important step and surely part of many miracles. But still, I don’t know what to do other than focus on my domestic church, and so I’m taking time to just exist in the presence of God.
Luckily, while my faith in the Church is challenged, my faith in God himself is not. And likewise, my faith in his ability to perform miracles is not challenged. A miracle is what we need, and St. Januarius shows that they can happen, consistently, time and time again. Our children need to know that, and we as adults often need reminding.
St. Januarius pray for us, and pray for our Church.