Aside from the freedom to read teen fiction and bake bread, the best part of my return to real post-Thesis life is the resumption of normal SOCRG meetings. Super Official Catechism Reading Group (which is in no way official) began almost two years ago when I emailed every Catholic or almost-Catholic person I knew in Waco and asked if they felt like reading the Catechism with me. I had recently reverted to the Catholic Church and craved Catechesis, but RCIA wasn’t quite what I needed and reading the Catechism on my own seemed daunting. There were a surprising number of Catholic students in my Baptist university graduate program, so I thought I’d just throw the idea of a reading group out there.
Somewhat surprisingly, every single Catholic/almost-Catholic was interested. Two years later we are still gathering once a week to eat a delicious meal, drink good drinks, and discuss any aspects of our faith that we have been struggling with or thinking about in the context of applicable sections of the Catechism—which we read aloud. We now have members spanning several departments, with all kinds of backgrounds, some married, some with children, some single, with a dozen year age span. We have become a strange, familial group in which there is much ruckus and arguing, but all in the spirit of faith seeking understanding. SOCRG is not a place to play with ideas, but to truly be transformed by our engagement with and conformity to the teachings of the Church. Members have sponsored catechumens in the group through Confirmation, we have celebrated the Baptism of SOCRG babies, and I at least have seen my assumptions about the world be increasingly formed by Catholic truth. I have never been a part of a group so devoted to sanctification, so ready to put the occasionally abstract ideas of our faith into practice, on the ground. With humor and grace and the utmost snarkiness. It’s basically the best thing about me.
So, missing SOCRG for about a month during Thesis-hell was just the worst. The very worst. I suppose this absence has made Lent feel very Lenten. Who needs memento moris when you’re alone in front of a computer for weeks, feeling like an idiot, missing SOCRG? That’s my question. Anyway, getting to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in true SOCRG fashion was a wonderful way to return to the living. I took out my print of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, we read “The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe,” we discussed Mary as Co-redemptrix, we argued, we teased each other, and ate the most delicious potluck feast imaginable.
There was bountiful beer and wine, DeAnn made roasted butternut squash, Luke made bacon wrapped jalapenos on a bed of garden-grown arugula, Nathan made the most beautiful salad you’ve ever seen, Wendy made cupcakes. I made my SOCRG standard balsamic roasted pork tenderloin. Oddly, I have cooked more meat during Lent than I did during Ordinary Time because SOCRG meets on Sundays and I feel guilty serving vegetables to fasting meat-lovers on their one day of feasting each week. Obviously, the Annunciation required some serious substance so I made the meatiest meat I really make. Easy and delicious. Here’s the recipe for you:
Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- pork tenderloin (there are usually two tenderloins to each package in the grocery store)
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- a few Tbsp of chopped rosemary
- a few Tbsp of chopped lemon thyme
- a few cloves of chopped garlic
- salt and pepper
- Chop all of the stuff you’re supposed to chop. Feel free to use any herbs you’ve got growing that go well with pork. I often just use rosemary, but I had the lemon thyme growing–so why not?
- Marinate the tenderloin overnight in a giant plastic bag with all of the above ingredients. Use equal parts oil and vinegar–as much as it takes to make sure the meat is covered.
- Pre-heat your oven to 425.
- Brown the tenderloin on a grill pan heated to medium-high. Don’t try to cook the meat all the way through, just get some pretty grill-marks on there so it doesn’t look like drab dead flesh and transfer to a Pyrex.
- Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature approaches 150.
- Allow the meat to sit for five minutes before slicing and arranging on a platter.
- Eat some more.
- Put leftovers on a salad and eat again.