Official feasts used to be an important part of the human community. People would gather together to remember something sacred, express their faith and hope for the future, and / or just be together formally, recognizing each other as being part of a shared community. Few things express a desire for shared companionship and social intimacy more than dining together. Sadly, the gathering together for feasting is increasingly a relic of the past – at least here in the West.
It need not be so! Today we will remember the ancient feasts.
THE FEAST OF St. Matthew
This feast is a Christian religious celebration of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. From wiki:
Matthew the Apostle (Saint Matthew) is named in the New Testament as one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. According to Christian traditions, he was also one of the four Evangelists as author of the Gospel of Matthew, and thus is also known as Matthew the Evangelist, a claim rejected by most biblical scholars, though the “traditional authorship still has its defenders.”
The New Testament records that as a disciple, he followed Jesus. Later Church fathers such as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria claim that Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, before going to other countries.
Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3 as a tax collector (in the NIV) who, while sitting at the “receipt of custom” in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus. He is also listed among the Twelve Disciples, but without identification of his background, in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. In passages parallel to Matthew 9:9, both Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 describe Jesus’s calling of the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus, but Mark and Luke never explicitly equate this Levi with the Matthew named as one of the twelve apostles.
The New Testament records that as a disciple, Matthew followed Jesus. Afterwards, the disciples withdrew to an upper room (Acts 1:10–14) (traditionally the Cenacle) in Jerusalem. The disciples remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Early Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1.1) and Clement of Alexandria say that Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, before going to other countries. Ancient writers are not in agreement as to which other countries these are, but almost all sources mention Ethiopia. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church each hold the tradition that Matthew died as a martyr and the Babylonian Talmud appears to report his execution in Sanhedrin 43a.
According to Church tradition, while preaching in Ethiopia, Matthew converted, and then consecrated to God, Ephigenia of Ethiopia, the virgin daughter of the Aethiopian King Egippus. When King Hirtacus succeeded Egippus, he asked the apostle if he could persuade Ephigenia to marry him. Matthew thus invited King Hirtacus to Mass the following Sunday where he rebuked him for lusting after the girl, as she was a nun and therefore was the bride of Christ. The enraged King thus ordered his bodyguard to kill Matthew who stood at the altar, making him a martyr.
What do you eat for The Feast of St. Matthew?
HONEY-GLAZED ZEPPOLE (Doughnuts)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
About 8 cups (½ gallon) vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Stir in eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla. Mix gently with spoon until blended into a sticky batter.
- Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F. Or use a large sauce pot over medium heat. The oil should measure about two inches in depth. If you do not have a deep-fry thermometer, roll up a small piece of bread and drop in hot oil to test the temperature. When bread ball attracts lots of bubbles, the oil is ready.
- Carefully drop batter by tablespoons into hot oil, about five or six at a time. Watch astounded as the zeppole plunge to the bottom, rise up, and turn themselves over a few times. (Be careful to avoid splattering the hot oil. To be extra safe, young children should watch this step from afar.)
The feast also can include a prayer (such as the one below):
O God, who with untold mercy
were pleased to choose as an Apostle
Saint Matthew, the tax collector,
grant that, sustained by his example and intercession,
we may merit to hold firm in following you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
When is this feast celebrated?
The Western feast day for St. Matthew is celebrated on September 21. The Eastern feast day is November 16.
I hope that if you celebrate, you have a wonderful time.