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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Padre Pio Prayer Bread

This note from a reader caused Sister St. Aloysius and I to laugh ourselves silly. We generally don't have a laugh over things involving the saints. Technically, we weren't doing that. We were having a laugh about "Amish Friendship Bread", which actually should be called "Amish I Wouldn't Wish This on My Worst Enemy Bread".

Have any of you ever had this stuff? The "Amish Friendship Bread" experience? Because it's not just bread. The bread is actually very delicious. Too delicious. The bread isn't the thing. The "friendship" is the thing.

It starts with an overly enthusiastic "friend" who thinks giving you the stuff is just the most lovely gesture on the planet.

I don't see how. It's more like a gypsy curse.

You don't just get the bread. You get the privilege of the bread and a bowl of goo. The bowl of goo is active with yeast or something. It's "alive". You have to tend it, adding something to it and stirring it, once a day every day for something like nine days, time that could be better spent on a novena not involving a bowl of goo. The bowl of goo is like "The Blob". It grows.

Then it makes something like 4 loaves of this delicious bread. It's so rich that you really only need to eat a slice a month, unless you throw a lot of tea parties.

This is where the "friendship" part comes in. You have to give away the other 3 loaves. You really do have to. It's that, or throw it out. You can't possible eat it all.

And the piece de resistance: you have more goo left over. It has multiplied! and you have to give that away too.

It's a chain letter of bread.

It's a nightmare.

When we got ours, we didn't know. Sister St. Aloysius was delighted with the concept and tended the goo faithfully for a few days. Her enthusiasm began to wane around the time she started to forget about tending it. Suddenly, she'd get this startled haunted look, late in the evening and whisper, "the batter!"

"Batter?" I'm thinking. "Did I leave some kid on the playground?"

We enjoyed the bread. But when it came time to pass on the "love" it was a lot like this song "The Thing".

Everyone on our block was already hip to "Amish Friendship Bread" and said, "Get out of here with that ___ _____ ____, and don't come back no more!"

And the whole thing just keeps multiplying! It's a horror movie of bread.

Delicious bread.

and now this:

One of my friends gave me prayer bread..er...a bowl of goo to add ingredients to, stir, and prayer over once a day for 10 or so days. This lady is a sweetheart, but I just got the directions today (it's day 5 and I am only half way through!) and see that I am to add stuff to it so I can give 4 other friends a bowl of goo to do the same process.

I really don't want to do it. In fact, I want to toss it in the trash and never look back. I love to bake, but this recipe doesn't strike me as being a delicious bread. It's The Blessed Bread of Padre Pio. I've had Amish friendship bread and it is WONDERFUL! This one has sugar, eggs, flour, cooking oil, and baking powder. It's probably tasty, but the Amish bread is a little like cinnamon roll heaven!

I feel bad for complaining, I just don't want to do it which makes me feel worse. In addition, I have so much to do that this is really not on my list of priorities and I might forget about it. What happens if I miss a step? Better yet, what happens if she finds out I didn't make it?

I feel like I have to just suck it up and make it since I don't want to hurt her feelings, but there is no way I would pass this on to my other busy mom friends who would probably feel the same way I do now. Advice?

My advice is to follow your heart. Chuck it in the trash. It may be tempting to lie to your friend about why you didn't make it by telling her the cat licked it or something like that. While the real reason you don't want to lie is that it is a sin, the fact is that if you tell her the cat licked it, she'll jump at the chance to give you a new batch.

Try not to judge her. It's the best thing that can happen to her, to give you a new batch, because she has a lot of goo to get rid of every couple of weeks and this way she won't have to go looking for new marks.

Just tell her you failed to tend it and it died. Tell her it happened quickly because you failed right away to tend it because you have such a busy schedule. And don't tell her you "forgot" to tend it. That would be a lie, too. If she tries to foist more on you, tell her you don't like to go around murdering batter.

There is a more important issue, however, that must be addressed. There is no such thing as Padre Pio Prayer Bread. It comes with a note that says it is Vatican approved. I can tell you something else the note says that proves that the bread has nothing whatsoever to do with Padre Pio or the Vatican. The note says that if you pray each day while tending the goo, you and your family will have good luck.

There is no such thing as luck in the teachings of the Catholic Church. "Luck" is a superstition and this chain letter of bread is exactly that. It might be a good idea to let your friend the Gyspy in on that fact as well.


Jana said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

A friend of mine was asked by her sister-in-law-to-be to be a bridesmaid. SILTB is Catholic, and getting married in the Catholic church. Good for her. Friend and I are LDS, and have certain modesty standards. Hemlines at the knee or below, at least cap sleeves, no plunging necklines, etc.

SILTB is demanding that all bridesmaids wear strapless dresses to her wedding, no shawls or jackets allowed. Friend is torn between backing out, and compromising her standards because it is the bride's special day and she doesn't want to cause familial unpleasantness.

Were you there, is there anything you could say SILTB?


Poops said...

The Amish bread freezes wonderfully; you can make multiple batches and sock it away for the parish bake sale!

Jody Blue said...

I enjoyed this post! And great plug on the no such thing as luck!!!

Claudia said...

In the OR in which I work there is ALWAYS a Zip Lock Bag of the Amish starter sitting on the table waiting for some unsuspecting soul to take it home. I have so far resisted, and your blog about it has reinforced my reticence.

Tracy said...

Dear SMM,

This sounds just like sourdough bread that we used to have growing up (a long time ago when some pe
ople still had time to cook). Wonderful bread...nuisance to tend...we didn't do the chain letter bit. We used to throw it away when busy, then get a fresh start from a friend when we had time for it.

Laura Suer said...

I had a really good laugh from your post sister. Your blog always puts a smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jana! I'm not Sister, but I'm confused - I thought similar modesty standards were required in Catholic weddings. Or is that only if the wedding takes place in a church?

I don't have an actual answer for you, but if someone had asked me to do similar when I was a Mormon, I would have smiled wistfully, explained about the modesty standards and declined unless a jacket or shrug could be added to the outfit. Honestly, it sounds a little "bride-zilla" like to demand your attendants wear clothing that they are not comfortable with. What if one of her bridesmaids was insecure about her upper arms, or had tattoos that couldn't be covered, or couldn't find a strapless bra that fit? If there is "familial unpleasantness", this would be the fault of a bride who refuses to take her bridesmaid's feelings and standards into account.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

That "horror movie of bread" line had me laughing out loud! You know that I now HAVE to share this post with Eegah over at The B-movie Catechism.

Jana said...

Thanks! I feel the same way, friend has different opinions. What can you do?

If similar modesty standards are required in Catholic weddings, it makes me confused too! Is it up to the individual priest, maybe? Or maybe SIL doesn't know the rules? Help me out here, Catholic folks!


Unknown said...

Hi Jana,

Unfortunately, even though Catholics should dress modestly (especially in church), it doesn't always work out that way in practice, particularly at weddings. In this day and age, sometimes it can even be hard to FIND wedding apparel that's modest. A Catholic friend of mine recently got married, and she had the toughest time finding appropriate dresses for her bridesmaids.

That said, as a Catholic who takes modesty in dressing seriously, I wouldn't wear a dress like the one you're describing, either, and I hope your friend's sister will understand. I don't think there's much chance of the priest asking the bride to change her dress choice, though. As far as I know, the Church doesn't have any hard and fast rules about it, and modesty is one of those subjective things -- it means really different things to different people.

I hope everything works out for the best.


Lisa said...

I think the last attempt to decree modesty for European Catholics was Pope Pius: "A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper." (But that was in 1956, and modesty is partly determined by local standards, which change over time.)

When I was a bridesmaid in a Roman Catholic wedding in Salt Lake City, the bride wanted us to wear spaghetti-strap dresses, but we wore jackets over them for the ceremony because the priest would not allow spaghetti-straps in the cathedral. The designer obviously was aware of the distiction --you could buy the dress without without the jacket.

The priest probably ought to intervene --to stop the bride's lack of charity toward her friend, even if the lack of modesty doesn't bother him. But maybe he won't for good reasons that we don't even know.

What a good opportunity for your friend to open someone's eyes to the fact that religious obligations are more important than fashions.

Jana said...

Thanks Kristina!

Jana said...

"What a good opportunity for your friend to open someone's eyes to the fact that religious obligations are more important than fashions."

I love that Lisa, thank you. You are so right.

Elizabeth said...

I hope you are able to reassure your friend. It is certainly appropriate for Catholic weddings to maintain modesty -- especially in church. Sadly, it's not more widely embraced in Catholic culture.
I do think that how modesty is "enforced" varies from priest to priest. I know my mother and I kept such rules in mind in selecting my wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses (but that was 19 years ago)!
Our pastor where we live now actually keeps shawls in the sacristy. If the wedding party arrives in improper attire, he gives them the shawls to cover with! I haven't seen it, but he's told me that he's had to use them.
I don't know how much brides are told while planning or if the church generally thinks that she or her mother will be aware of these things.
Sadly, just looking at what people wear to church each week, it's clear that some people have no sense of appropriate attire for church!
I teach First Communion classes and we even have to remind parents repeatedly about shoulders being covered on little girls. Too many dresses are made as mini-wedding gowns and need sweaters or shrugs!

Jana said...

"Our pastor where we live now actually keeps shawls in the sacristy. If the wedding party arrives in improper attire, he gives them the shawls to cover with!"

That. Is. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

I made that Amish "Friendship" Bread once. I kind of forgot about it for a day or two.....it ate my pantry.
Mrs. R

Tami said...

Great advice as to what to do about the goo if you don't want it. What I need to know is how to start it? I love the Amish Friendship Bread, but no friends here to share their goo. I'm a homeschool mom, and I think it would be such fun for my kiddos. Kind of home ec, yet we could pull in the science of the "curing" that takes place over the 10 days.

Anonymous said...

Padre Pio liked veal sauce according to his biography. What about a Padre Pio linguini?

Pentimento said...

My mother-in-law gave me some Padre Pio starter with the injunction to stir it with a wooden spoon ONLY. She also told me that a friend of hers to whom she'd given also some didn't have a wooden spoon to stir it with, and had to go to Target to get one, and when she reached for a spoon in the store display, she was suddenly (not to say miraculously) healed of a longstanding shoulder ailment. I was incredibly annoyed at the obligation I felt to my mother-in-law to continue the bread chain, but I stirred and stirred it anyway, until I suddenlty needed emergency surgery, which put the kibosh on my own little Padre Pio bread line. So much for luck.