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Baking Bread and Sharing Faith


50-year-old Bread Recipe Reveals

Lesson in Faith

By Joe Paprocki, DMin

Baking Bread

In Polish, we use the word “busia” (pronounced boo-sha) to refer to a grandmother.

Before my wife and I got married, I often visited and ate with her family, including her 90-plus-year-old busia who loved to cook. Busia used to bake a delicious sweet bread that everyone loved, and it became known as “Busia’s bread.”

I wanted to learn how to make this bread before Busia left us for heaven. Interestingly enough, the recipe was in her head and not on paper. While she had a definite idea for what steps to follow and ingredients to use, she also knew that making her bread was an act of love, not a science.

So, I offered to help her make her bread one day and secretly wrote down the recipe as we went along (I had to keep it secret because she believed writing it down somehow diminished it!) Now, some 35 years since Busia left us, I’m known in my wife’s family as the keeper of the recipe for Busia’s bread.

Joe Paprocki’s Busia. In Polish, we use the word “busia” (pronounced boo-sha) to refer to a grandmother.

During the holidays, our house fills with the aroma of this freshly baked bread. And over the course of several days, we slather the bread with butter and jelly for breakfast, dessert, and snacks (including the all-important midnight snack). More importantly, our memories of Busia come to life as we mix the ingredients, put them in the oven, and feast on her bread.

When it comes to practicing our faith, we can learn a lot from Busia. Yes, there is a recipe for living as followers of Christ—the Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church—but living as a disciple of Christ is an act of love, not a science. Discipleship is a process, not a program. This means we have to loosen our grip and make room for the Holy Spirit, who guides us on our faith journey.

Baking bread and sharing faith requires us to jump in and shape ingredients into a delicious work of art. We have a recipe to pass along, but it’s not etched in stone. Our shared faith is a living recipe, much the same way Busia saw her recipe for bread as something dynamic and alive—not something to be written down at the risk of becoming static.

So put on your apron, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to join the Holy Spirit in the kitchen we call discipleship. Sharing your faith with others is truly an act of love.

P.S. Here’s another Polish word to know; it’s the Polish equivalent of bon appetit: “Smacznego!” (pronounced smoch-NEH-go)

Joe PaprockiJoe Paprocki, DMin, has been a catechetical leader and religious educator in the Chicago area for more than thirty years. His books include Living the Mass, The Bible Blueprint, The Catechist’s Toolbox (Loyola Press).  He is the National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago.  Joe blogs about his work as a catechist at Catechist’s Journey.

The Art of Teaching

A Recipe for a Meaningful RCIA Experience

You can apply Busia’s bread-baking philosophy to the RCIA process too. Joe Paprocki offers five ways to help you shape the RCIA experience to meet the needs of your candidates.

  1. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the steps and process of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and by looking to the liturgical year (especially the Sunday Scripture readings) to serve as the foundation of our faith formation.
  2. Take time to get to know your catechumens and candidates so that you can assess their individual needs.
  3. Gather and employ a variety of catechetical resources to serve these needs.
  4. Identify a variety of people in parish leadership who can share their talents as presenters or guest speakers.
  5. Look for opportunities to immerse the catechumens and candidates in the life and ministry of the parish, especially giving service to others.

Learn more about making the RCIA process meaningful with Joe’s article on DRE Connect

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