As I mentioned in the article about the Eucharist, in the Mass, there are other miracles besides the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. There is the miracle of creation, which provides the gifts of bread and wine and the people to offer the gifts. Also there is the miracle of human ingenuity discovering how to put several ingredients and processes together to make bread and wine. These gifts are not found in nature in that state; they are the products of human cooperation and industry.
Baking bread myself has brought me closer to that “miracle” of human-and-nature cooperation. By mixing flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast and sometimes something like margarine or olive oil, and entrusting this mixture to the baking machine, I am amazed that out of it comes a delicious, full-bodied loaf of bread. Those who make the bread by hand and patiently wait for it to rise once or twice before putting the loaves into the oven must feel this mystery even more. Any change in the amount or type of flour, temperature and amount of water, or added flavors of herbs and nuts and fruits, changes the flavor and sometimes the texture of the bread. It’s a mystery to me every time.
The preparation does not take long–bout a half hour to put the mixture together and clean up and another ten minutes to clean up after the bread is done. Some types can be mixed after breakfast and taken out of the baking machine after lunch. Other types are set with a timer so they can be ready at 6:00 before morning mediation and Mass. Shopping for the ingredients is joined with other items in the schedule. A walk to Jusco takes 20 minutes. Having some purpose like buying the bread items is an added incentive to get the exercise of going there and back. Other times the shopping is connected with taking Holy Communion to the religious living in Santa Maria. On the way back I can stop at Amica and get flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in larger amounts.
The good effect of the bread is that it adds variety to the morning breakfast. One never knows what flavor or texture it will have. The Eucharist is about community, so it is fitting that a community member’s hobby can be shared and be of some use to others, not only oneself. Twice a month on Sunday mornings we pray the “Canticle of the Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace.” They call upon various items of creation to praise the Lord. Perhaps a “Canticle of Old Men” would include all the things human beings can make to help others live better and happily in the world that God has given us. One of them would surely be: “Freshly baked bread, Bless the Lord.”