Living Lite

Symposium on Benedictine Spirituality Nov. 16 & 17

November 7, 2012

Sister Joan Chittister with Maria Shriver and Bono (Photo by: Leadership Conference of Women Religious) Sister Joan Chittister with Maria Shriver and Bono

Every day I notice that conflict, confusion, and isolation are familiar feelings for so many of us. We are over-scheduled, multi-tasking automatons running from one appointment to another—when not glued to our computers, smartphones, televisions, and cars.

And we are too busy.  Too busy to exercise, eat right, sleep enough, relax, or socialize with family and friends. Too busy to spend time enriching our lives with new subjects to study, engaging in creative hobbies, or volunteering in our communities. Too busy for living lives of balance and fulfillment. Our lifestyles are wreaking havoc with our health, happiness and the very fabric of our society. What to do?

I, for one, have turned to the 6th century wisdom of Benedict of Nursia because "Life is a teacher of universal truths" whether you live in the 6th or the 21st century,” writes Joan Chittister, OSB*, a Benedictine nun, in her book, The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages. The hard-won wisdom passed down from Benedict is as alive and applicable today as it was when it was written 1,500 years ago, as evidenced by the scholars who have studied Benedict and his wisdom through the ages.

Benedict—Saint Benedict as we now know him—was living in Italy at a time of chaos, in a society ravaged by war. Tired of the decadent culture surrounding him in Rome where he was studying, he sought meaning and purpose in his life (sound familiar?). He left to live a simple life in the countryside where other spiritual seekers found him. He eventually founded 12 monasteries, which resulted in his Rule of Benedict, a succinct manual (just 93 pages), described by Chittister in her book’s introduction as a guide to "the logic of daily life lived well."

"Benedictine spirituality is the spirituality of the 21st century because it deals with the issues facing us now—stewardship, relationships, authority, community, balance, work, simplicity, prayer, and spiritual and psychological development," writes Chittister, who formerly headed a Benedictine monastery. "Its currency lies in the fact that Benedictine spirituality offers more a way of life and an attitude of mind than it does a set of religious prescriptions."

Embracing this wisdom, Benedictine communities, monastic and non-monastic, have sprung up all over the world. In fact, one such organization, The Friends of Saint Benedict, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is offering its First Annual Symposium on Benedictine Spirituality on November 16 & 17featuring Sister Joan*, and a roundtable discussion with other Benedictine scholars.

She notes, "The Benedictine way of life is credited with having saved Europe from the ravages of the Dark Ages.  In an age bent again on its own destruction, the world could be well served by asking how."

Join me and learn more about how the ancient wisdom of Benedict can be used to help us to create calm in a world of chaos, offering love and acceptance in a world of hate and violence at the Friends of Saint Benedict's  Symposium on Benedictine Spirituality on November 16 & 17. 


*Joan Chittister, OSB, former prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania and a leader among women monastics, is an internationally known speaker and writer, author of 45 books, and a voice of clarity on spirituality, women’s empowerment, justice and the search for meaning.  Her ideas—carried in books, columns, and Internet platforms--   have encouraged people inside and outside the church, people in prisons, people in work and out of work, and people facing every conceivable life transition.  She serves as Co-Chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the UN,  facilitating a worldwide network of women peace-builders.

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Experts Read the Tea Leaves: 7 Tips for Tea Drinkers

November 1, 2012

A tea timeout is my favorite way to de-stress a day. It feels so civilized to relax with a warm cup of jasmine-scented green tea or perhaps the traditional English treat, black tea with milk - "white," as they say. No wonder the fathers of our country took up arms for their right to drink it. Still, with all the myths we hear about nutrition, I've always wondered, is tea as healthful as many people believe?

Although tea has been enjoyed around the world for some 5,000 years, it wasn't until relatively recently that scientists started searching for the facts.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, epidemiological studies - the kind following large populations' eating and disease patterns - found tea drinking might be associated with better health. But no clear cause-and-effect relationship between health and tea was established.

Recent studies have been promising. What did they find? Just about every cell in the body could potentially benefit from tea - with virtually no downsides. Read about the health benefits of tea and my "7 Tips for Tea Drinkers" in Thursday's Washington Post.

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Katherine's Market Recipe: Autumn Apple Crisp with Nuts, Dried Fruit & Ginger

October 30, 2012

Georgetown's Rose Park Farmers Market is ending its 2012 season today with a Pumpkin Fest (4:30 pm) and Parades (5 & 6 pm) ... Rain or shine! "There is no better place to meet your neighbors, whether they are dog-walkers, moms, dads, tennis players or foodies," said Leslie Wheelock, Founder and Co-Manager. "We're completely staffed by neighborhood volunteers, who sustain the market every Wednesday."

Today is the 11th "Katherine's Market Recipe," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

For my "Autumn Apple Crisp with Nuts, Dried Fruits, and Ginger," I recommend you buy the apples or pears at Georgetown's Rose Park Farmers Market (your last chance this year) on Wednesday, the Glover Park - Burleith Farmers Market on Saturday, or Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market (open year-round) on Sunday. 

Katherine’s Autumn Apple Crisp with Nuts, Dried Fruit & Ginger
By Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D.
Author, “Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” (LifeLine Press, 2011)

This will become a favorite holiday dessert – delicious, but quick and simple, too. And, heart healthy – using predominantly whole grains and nut oil instead of butter – and filled with fruit and nuts.* This Apple Crisp is very versatile with its main ingredients. Use a crunchy, tart Fall Apple, an Anjou Pear, or a combination of both. Use any dried fruit, your favorite nut, and a nut oil for maximum flavor.

Serves 12


½ Cup Pure Maple Syrup
½ Cup Raisins, Dried Cranberries, or a mix of both
2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Minced Candied or Crystalized Ginger (or less, depending how strong you like it)
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
3 pounds crisp, tart Fall Apples, or any apple or pear, peeled and thinly sliced


1-1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats*
½ Cup Chopped Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, any favorite Nut – or a mixture*
½ Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour*
½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Walnut Oil, any Nut Oil,* or Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare filling: In a large bowl, mix the maple syrup, dried fruit, lemon juice, ginger, and flour. Add the apples and mix well. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Prepare Topping: Mix the oats, nuts, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, and cinnamon. Add the oil and mix until the topping is moist. Pour over the filling in the baking dish.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the apples are tender and the crumble is golden brown.  Let stand for 10 minutes until serving

300 calories per serving.

“Katherine’s Autumn Apple Crisp with Nuts, Dried Fruit & Ginger” is adapted from a recipe in “Eating Well” Magazine.

*Learn more about the health benefits of whole grains and nuts...

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