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 | By Michellle Sessions DiFranco

Love and sacrifice

An Easter dessert to celebrate new life

Our family was recently blessed with the opportunity to take a pilgrimage to Italy. Upon our return my mind was burdened with the messy house, domestic chores and other obligations I knew awaited us. After the first day back, I walked into a kitchen with ingredients spread out all over my countertops and cooking utensils piled high. My daughter, adorned in a red cooking apron, enthusiastically announced that she was preparing a huge Italian feast. As she prepped her decadent Zabaglione dessert over the stove, she went on about how the trip to Italy had inspired her to cook. I was speechless, but not in a good way. With all that had to be done, I felt completely overwhelmed.

Although I was frustrated, I did not want to spoil the recent highs we were feeling from our trip, which included amazing glimpses into the lives and legacy of so many saints. And as we had talked about some of the more recent “Blesseds” and saints of Italy such as Pier Giorgio Frassati and Carlo Acutis, I couldn’t help but think of one in particular: St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who lived in the 20th century and whose feast day is April 28.

St. Gianna, a physician, is known for having heroically chosen to save the life of her unborn baby at the sacrifice of her own.

During the pregnancy of her fourth child, she developed a complication and doctors recommended she terminate the life of her unborn baby in order to live. She chose to save the life of the baby, understanding that it would cause life-threatening complications for her later on. She went on to deliver a healthy baby girl, but died of an infection a week later.

Her sacrifice, indeed, her death, was made beautiful as it allowed for another precious life to arrive!

And isn’t this the very heart of the Easter story? By dying on the cross, our Lord made eternal life possible. There can be no resurrection without the sacrifice of the crucifixion. As St. Gianna said, “Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and light.” And the ultimate sacrifice of Good Friday, the greatest act of love ever committed, results in the greatest blessing of life for all of us.

For me, the trial of a messy kitchen for the sake of an Italian dessert seems trivial. But with the example of saints like St. Gianna Molla, we can choose to embrace even the smallest sacrifices of life with joy and gratitude. It was a small act of love to take a deep breath and not become angry the day I walked into that disheveled kitchen. But the life it brought to my daughter’s eyes as she presented the food that night was irreplaceable. And it just so happens that Zabaglione is a popular dessert in Italy at Easter, so perhaps you should give it a try this Easter season, our family highly recommends it!

We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love.” – St. Gianna Molla

Michellle Sessions DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

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  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Marsala wine (or sweet white)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Crushed Italian cookies and berries (for serving)
  • Nutmeg (for serving)

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof glass or stainless steel mixing bowl (that will sit over, but not touch, a pot of boiling water). Bring the pot of water to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Whisk the sugar and yolks until thick and creamy. Slowly beat in the wine, salt and cinnamon and place the bowl over the simmering pot of water. Continue to whisk for several minutes until thickened into a smooth and creamy custard and the whisk leaves a ribbon trail when raised over the mixture.

Serve custard warm or cool with fresh berries, crushed Italian cookies and a dash of nutmeg (optional).