1. Did you have an Easter basket when you were little? What were your favorite contents?
We did, but not the kind of Easter basket the way most children think about today with candy and stuff. We literally, as a family, followed a Polish custom of preparing an Easter basket to take over to the church on (Holy) Saturday and to have the priest bless the articles in it. Then the very first meal that you had after the Easter Vigil, the morning, was what came out of the blessed Easter basket.
That’s a tradition that dates back to when Catholics in Europe observed the Black Fast where … you’re away from dairy products, you’re away from meats and then what happened is people, for fear that something would happen to the food products over there, took them over to the church to be blessed….It developed into this wonderful tradition, kind of a family tradition, as the first blessed meal and all the articles inside the basket represent different things.
For Poles, it’s what they call kielbasa or sausage; they’re links so as Jesus broke the chains of slavery, the links of the sausage (are broken); the ham – that’s basically a response to the fact that it’s the new covenant so the old law which prohibited the eating of ham is now broken in the new Easter rite. The egg is symbolic of the Resurrection and then usually articles like butter and pound cake were literally done in the shape of a lamb. Then, of course, there would be bread. In an Italian basket, there’s usually wine, so what happens is whatever the food custom of the ethnic group that’s what’s put in there.
My sister and I sometimes, with my mother, would help make the sausage that would go in there. So we’d do the grinding and it would go into the casing – that type of thing. So what an Easter basket is thought of today is not what I would remember as a kid in an Easter basket. My favorite contents were the sausage and the ham.
2. Do you have a favorite Easter recipe?
First of all, I don’t cook, so what I do is I do dishes, I do windows, but I do not cook, and it’s an insurance issue for me, in terms of trying not to inflict pain and suffering on individuals by having them eat what I’ve cooked.
My favorite Easter treat during that period of time? I love the fact that, at least during the Easter period, the leftovers are there. My family was always a big one for noodle salad and the cold ham sandwiches and the horseradish on the ham sandwiches were always wonderful aspects and wonderful treats that are associated immediately with Easter.
3. What books have you read or movies have seen recently?
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I reread commentaries and Sacred Scripture and I’ll go through some of the reflections of Benedict XVI, especially as he goes through Holy Week…That’s the other side of things, but for the fun side I read “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s a wonderful and inspiring book about an individual’s life. And the last of “The Camel Club,” by David Baldacci. I like Baldacci as an author – he’s thoughtful, he does a good job.
I like a lot of modern authors. Dean Koontz – I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz – he’s very Catholic in his view and you know how you can tell he’s very Catholic? He mentions Catholic things. Like if people were driving on Lake Drive, a person who is just secular would say, “Oh well, there’s beautiful buildings, there’s a lake.” A Catholic would drive by and say, ‘Oh, I drove on Lake Drive. There was Lake Michigan and on the left was the seminary!” or “There was a convent”…I pick that up in Dean Koontz’s work.
I recently watched “The King’s Speech.”
4. What are some of your fears?
I probably have a little fear of water, but that’s because I was in a couple drowning accidents as a kid, so there’s always that inside my psyche. I do swim but I mean there’s that little bit of a, basically, psyche.
If you’re taking a look at the general aspect of fears, I don’t know if it’s a fear, but…I probably came out of the nuclear war threat generation and with the nuclear war threat generation, there’s always a fear in all of us of dying isolated and alone, because when you talked about the suddenness of nuclear war, you were apart from the people that you love, so that’s always been a part of my life to make sure that the people that I care about and that I love always know that I care about and appreciate them and I love them so that even if I’m apart or something were to happen to me apart from them that I would have the sense, or at least they should have the sense, how much I appreciated them in this life.
5. What’s the best way to understand the Trinity? It’s still confusing to me when I think of Jesus calling out to God, his father, “Why have you forsaken me?”
The first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to take a look at the Trinity as mystery. That’s a difficulty for us because we don’t necessarily explain the mystery. We want everything explainable, we want to be able to understand it perfectly and precisely, but when you’re talking about the Trinity, you’re talking about the Godhead, literally, you’re talking about God and you’re talking about the Godhead being three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When you understand relationships, you understand a relationship very well and that’s why as we take a look at Father, Son and Holy Spirit we understand the relationship of the Trinity.
You and I enter into a friendship, we like one another, we love one another, but that love is apart from us. That love is a reality apart from us. I understand it in my particular way, you understand it in your particular way, but that love is basically there and it’s proclaimed by both of us as existing and as real. So, when you’re talking in terms of Trinity, you’re talking about the Godhead, which reflects the very love, the very nature, which is love of God himself, so God reflecting literally upon himself and that reflection coming back so you are talking about the one God and three persons that make up that, basically, dynamic.
How it happens? St. Thomas Aquinas talks about the union, but in the end, one has to say if they’re Christian, that it’s a mystery encased in this Godhead, the knowledge reflected in the three persons as we’re able to relate to it and then what you have to remember is Jesus on the cross – it’s his human nature that’s calling out to God, the Father. Jesus – like us in all things but sin, but like us in all things in terms of even relating to basically God as father, like us in all things relating even to the feeling of pain and suffering, and looking to God for assistance and help.