On April 13, 2012, Crisis Magazine posted an article by Sean P. Daily (which was actually from 2009) on The Lost Art of Catholic Drinking. You should read this first before reading more. As I have been reflecting on this article, I thought I would pull up a stool, pour myself a beer and discuss this topic a bit. The only thing that would make this better is if I was smoking an Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Cigar.
The idea of drinking came to me last night because this weekend I will be with my family celebrating my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary (actual date was few weeks back) as well as my niece’s Baptism and reception. There is no doubt that cocktails and wine will be drunk at both of these affairs and word on the street is that Sangria will make appearance for the latter celebration. For those of you who went to graduate school with me at Franciscan, you will remember that I made Sangria for a few parties at Brady Circle. It’s good stuff! As a Catholic, I enjoy a cold beer, a nice glass of red, or a cocktail at a lounge for happy hour with good friends. However, we must remember that when we consume, as a friend from college use to say, “adult beverages,” we should do so with moderation (temperance) always in mind.
So with that being said and with this blog being a avenue for catechesis and evangelization, the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2290 states, “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol (emphasis mine), tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and other’s safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.” The book of Sirach says, “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites” and in the Letter to Titus, St. Paul says, “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world…”
This post is not to promote drinking by any means, if you think that’s the case, you would be sorely mistaken. I think we all need to hear things like this from time to time. When it comes to having a drink, we should use the method so eloquently written by Sean P. Daily. He says, “…the balanced approach — the Catholic approach — means having a good time, a good laugh, sometime a good cry, but always with joy and gratitude for God’s generosity…” I leave you with two stories that have always had an impact on me as well as a funny poem.
When I was an undergraduate, I took a course with a Jesuit priest. I will never forget the lecture we received in the course one day about how beer and wine are God’s creations and how we should drink both in moderation. Somehow he got on this topic and we ended up never talking about Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton (a man who knew the art of catholic drinking well). I still remember the lecture to this day. He talked about the yeast on the grapes and the barley with beer and the importance of growing the grapes properly. He said all these things were created with a purpose and with the human mind gathering all of these ingredients together allows us to make good wine and beer. He even brought into the lecture how Jesus is the Vine. It was a great class and really was the first time I thought about these things in that way.
In the same class, on another day, I remember we were reading C.S. Lewis’ – Miracles. So many of us were having a difficult time understanding it, especially Chapter 4 – Nature and Supernature. The Jesuit priest happily explained it to us and then told us to go to the store, buy a six-pack of good German beer, and go to the park to read our C.S. Lewis and drink our beer doing it. He said that should help us understand it better. We all laughed. A student (the only one who was over the age of 21 and now a priest himself) said to the Jesuit, all of these students (I was 20 and two months from 21) are underage and cannot purchase the beer for themselves. Without skipping a beat and with that Jesuit wit and sarcasm he said – then you need to go out and buy it for them because understanding the Divine Law is more important than the Civil Law. The class was laughing and cheering and we all wanted our beer that afternoon. I don’t think any of us got our beer, but it was fun being in that class anyway. When I graduated from college, that same priest and I shared a beer at the graduation dinner and he shared with me the lecture all over again.
The Poem (Irish? Told to me by a Pole) –
In Heaven there is no beer,
that’s why we drink it here,
and when we’re gone from here,
all our friend’s will be drinking all our beer.
Cheers! Prost! Salute!