A weekend to celebrate St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine

On Aug. 27 and 28, Catholics the world over will honor the lives of St. Monica and St. Augustine, the wayward son she converted by way of persistent, motherly prayer.

Find the story of her  steadfast faith here http://www.osa-west.org/saintmonica.html and his at    http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=418.

In our house, this year, we’ll be marking these saints days on our festive, family and friends reunion weekend which always calls to mind the great stories our Dad used to share at such celebrations when we were young.  One of  his favorites was the story of how he returned from World War II with an ancient ( so we all choose to believe)  jar handle and a great tale about how he dug it  out of ground where the saint might have trod. As he told it, he uncovered the jar handle  during  a personal, solitary and rather dangerous pilgrimage to the scattered ruins of Hippo outside the port city known today as Annaba, Algeria.

To Dad, who turned regularly to the writings of St. Augustine before and after the war, for inspiration and comfort, the jar handle was symbolic of his devotion to the great theologian and doctor of the Church and we children, mystified by its very venerable presence on a shelf in mom and dad’s bedroom, came to hold it in high regard as well.

Today, it has a place of honor in our living room book shelves near a picture of Dad in full dress uniform and being the weekend it is and knowing of our Sister-in-law Kate’s great devotion to Monica and Augustine, I’m certain Dad’s tale will come up in conversation again.

One of the other things Dad brought back from North Africa was an enjoyment of its cuisine which he passed on to us. Over the years, we’ve especially come to enjoy cous-cous. Here’s an easy to prepare recipe that would make a tasty accompaniement to a festive weekend meal.

Easy Cous-Cous

Ingredients: 1 clove garlic, minced; 1 med. onion, coarsely chopped; 2 carrots, diced; 1 (8 oz.) can tomatoes, drained; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. ground cumin; 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; 1 cup chicken broth; 1 small zucchini, sliced; 1/2 cup canned chick peas; package of cous-cous from the supermarket prepared according to package directions.

Directions: In a large skillet, in hot oil, saute garlic and onion until tender but not brown. Add the carrots, tomatoes, salt, cumin, pepper flakes and chicken broth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender yet firm. Add zucchini and chick peas. Cook until the zucchini is just tender.

Assemble: mound prepared cous-cous on a large round platter. Pour the vegetable mixture over the cous-cous. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes and serve.


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