01 March 2008

Gwnewch y pethau bychain

“Do the little things,” is what the title means, and this was one of the favorite teachings of St. David of Wales. It’s very much in the spirit of the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, which she exemplified so many centuries later.

Since it’s March 1st, I’m bound to make mention of the patron saint of my Welsh ancestors. This is the second time I’ve done it here, so I guess it could be called an “annual tradition.” The following is an excerpt from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

St. David, in Welsh Dewid, was son of Xantus, prince of Ceretica, now Cardiganshire. He was brought up in the service of God, and, being ordained priest, retired into the Isle of Wight and embraced an ascetic life, under the direction of Paulinus, a learned and holy man, who had been a disciple of St. Germanus of Auxerre. He is said by the sign of the cross to have restored sight to his master, which he had lost by old age and excessive weeping in prayer. He studied a long time to prepare himself for the functions of the holy ministry. At length, coming out of his solitude, like the Baptist out of the desert, he preached the word of eternal life to the Britons. He built a chapel at Glastonbury, a place which had been consecrated to the divine worship by the first apostles of this island. He founded twelve monasteries, the principal of which was in the vale of Ross, near Menevia, where he formed many great pastors and eminent servants of God. By his rule he obliged all his monks to assiduous manual labour in the spirit of penance: he allowed them the use of no cattle to ease them at their work in tilling the ground, They were never suffered to speak but on occasions of absolute necessity, and they never ceased to pray, at least mentally, during their labour. They returned late in the day to the monastery, to read, write, and pray. Their food was only bread and vegetables, with a little salt, and they never drank anything better than a little milk mingled with water. After their repast they spent three hours in prayer and adoration; then took a little rest, rose at cock- crowing, and continued in prayer till they went out to work. Their habit was of the skins of beasts. When any one petitioned to be admitted, he waited ten days at the door, during which time he was tried by harsh words, repeated refusals, and painful labours, that he might learn to die to himself. When he was admitted, he left all his worldly substance behind him, for the monastery never received any thing on the score of admission. All the monks discovered their most secret thoughts and temptations to their abbot.

There’s nothing like authentic food to mark a saint’s day. Last year I gave the recipe for cawl. This year I thought I’d give the recipe for Caws Pobi (Welsh rarebit, also known as Welsh Rabbit, although it has nothing to do with rabbits).

6 ounces strong Cheddar cheese;
1 tablespoon butter;
1-2 teaspoons Worcester sauce (to taste);
1 level teaspoon dry mustard;
2 teaspoons flour or cornflour;
4 tablespoons beer (about);
4 slices bread toasted on one side.

Put cheese, mustard, Worcester Sauce, butter and flour into saucepan and mix well, moisten with beer, but don't make too wet. Stir over gently heat until all is melted and become a thickish paste. Allow to cool a little while you make the toast.

Spread mixture on untoasted side and put under hot grill until bubbling -- a great supper for Fridays in Lent.

And finally, to one and all, Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus… Happy St. David’s Day!