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Getting Ready to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day – The Blessing of Beer

The period of Lent in the Catholic faith is a time for sacrifice and reflection. it is the solemn Christian religious observance in the liturgical year commemorating the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert and enduring temptation by Satan, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (2290) teaches that “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air. That is, drunkenness is a form of gluttony, and a grave sin. Excessive eating is also gluttony, but we can still eat and enjoy good food. Catholics are taught to be temperate in the consumption of both food and drink. In Day 299 of his CIY podcast titled Respect for Health, Father Mike Schmitz cover four brief paragraphs 2288-2291 on respect for health

While Christian views on alcohol are varied, throughout the first 1,800 years of Church history, Christians generally consumed alcoholic beverages as a common part of everyday life. They held that both the Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous, they mostly agree on the temperance principle.

Pope Francis famously declared wine a necessity in 2016, and former Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday with a beer and bretzels in August, 2017.

The Benedictio Cerevisiae is included in the 17th-century Roman Ritual. Chapter VIII of the Rituale Romanum, a liturgical manual dated 1614, includes special blessings for almost anything you might use on a daily basis, literally — the chapter is titled “Blessings of things designated for ordinary use.” In it, you will findblessings for cheese or butter, for seeds, for salt or oats for animals, fishing boats, tools used by mountain climbers and, naturally, for beer.

Beer BlessingThe Benedictio Cerevisiae – Blessing of Beer

V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

English translation
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water

Beer, the English Coffeehouse and the Enlightment

Steven Johnson in his Ted Talk Where Ideas Come From argues that the English coffeehouse was crucial to the development and spread of one of the great intellectual flowering of the last 500 years known as the Enlightment. One of the things that made the coffeehouse important was the architecture: a place where people would get together from different backgrounds, different fields of expertise and share. An agora of ideas the focal point of all the day-to-day activity, creating a marketplace of ideas where vigorous debate was encouraged and the best ideas emerged victorious.
In ancient Greece, the agora (/ˈæɡərə/; romanized: agorá, meaning “market” was a central public space in ancient Greek city-states, the best representation of a city-state’s response to accommodate the social and political order of the polis. Antithetical to today’s Big Tech’s social media and AI tools like Google’s Gemini: In 2003 GW Bush proposed to stop the suppression of free speech, hate and division in the Muslim World. Big Tech followed through promising to democratize the world by offering free Internet access. But it quickly carved out silos, monetized hate and division and is developing close-architcture AI tools with predictable results: Pope Francis Laudate Deum is Spot on “29. The ethical decadence of real power is disguised thanks to marketing and false information, useful tools in the hands of those with greater resources to employ them to shape public opinion. .. Artificial intelligence and the latest technological innovations start with the notion of a human being with no limits, whose abilities and possibilities can be infinitely expanded thanks to technology. In this way, the technocratic paradigm monstrously feeds upon itself.”

Johnson also argued that “an astonishing number of innovations from this period have a coffeehouse in their story.” Johnson also attributed the popularity of the coffeehouse :..in part because of what people drank before coffee and tea through British culture: alcohol because water wasn’t safe to drink.”

Others agree with Johnson that water in the Middle Ages was polluted, full of bacteria and, and not a healthy choice for hydration forcIng everyone, from commoners to royalty to turn to beer.

Yet others like Tim O’Neill say that “contrary to what is found all over the Internet on the subject, the most common drink was water, for the obvious reason: It’s free. Medieval villages and towns were built around sources of fresh water. This could be fresh running water, a spring or, in many cases, wells. All of these could easily provide fresh, disease- and impurity-free water “

Whether beer was a suitable replacement for water, or not, in is generally agreed it was a more nutritious alternative than water. Even though it was weakly brewed from barley, at the time beer was the energy drink of choice – a calorie-laden beverage popular with workers and farmers who were thirsty and in need of energy. In the end, it would still have been more costly to drink than water. Unless home-brewed, beer had to be purchased, and like wine, there often were taxes and transportation fees involved

Beer as the Energy Drink of the Middle Ages

According to HowStuffWorks, the beer of Medieval Europe was weaker than that of today, with the ABV speculated to have been around three percent. People didn’t drink it to get drunk — instead, they drank it as a source of carbs and calories.

Three pints of stout will give you roughly the equivalent of a single yolk egg and contain 3% of an adult’s recommended daily dose of iron, which can help boost your energy levels if you’re feeling a bit sluggish. For centuries alcohol has always played an important, and sometimes decisive, role in warfare. As it brought the troups moral and courage in many armies the intake of booze was allowed or even stimulated. Other commanders believed it was best to keep their troops as sober as possible, so they wouldn’t go out of control. But no matter if we’re talking wine for the Roman legions, gin and rum for the British soldiers in the colonies, whisky during the American Civil War or vodka for the Red Army during World War II, alcohol has always been an important issue in combat.

The proverb “an army marches on its stomach” is widely attributed to Napoleon, and on campaign it seems that he did make the most of the local resources, despite his abstemiousness his general predilection was for “whatever the boys were drinking”

Beer and the Happy Hour

In his book Drinking wth the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour, Michael Foley begins by explaining the joy of drinking in moderation. He shows that, in fact, many of the saints we know and love today relished a good happy hour—which is why Foley wrote a book with different cocktail recipes to honor our favorite saints.

Foley explains that the purpose of his book is to promote the type of drinking which the saints embraced. He writes: “Drinking with the Saints has as one of its aims the promotion of the refined and temperate art of drinking, an art which involves a discerning palate, a sense of moderation, and a generous dose of self-knowledge. The art also calls for a certain mindfulness or contemplative presence…You can be sure that when Our Lord made wine so good that it impressed even the seasoned steward at the Wedding of Cana, He was endorsing only the best forms of imbibing.”

Beer is one of the oldest human-produced drinks. The first chemically confirmed barley-beer, from modern-day Iraq, dates back to the 5th millennium BCE. And in China, beer was brewed using barley and other grains, from around 5,000 years ago.

Beer produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century CE beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. Occasionally a batch of beer would go bad and people would blame the devil for the problem. To keep the demons away, brewers would place religious statues in their brew house, and ask a local priest to bless a new batch.

“St. Arnold of Metz, the patron saint of brewers, once blessed the kettle used to brew beer to convince the people of the city to drink beer instead of water during a plague, which saved many lives, It became clear that if you drank the monk’s beer you lived and if you drank the water you died”

Blessed Serendipity

 It was the Paulaner monks, who were moving from Southern Italy to the Cloister Neudeck ob der Au in Bavaria in the early 1600s, observed a strict 40-day fast for Lent. The fast meant that they could not consume solid food. Needing nutrition during their fast, the Paulaner monks designed a strong beer that was dubbed sankt-vater-bier or “Holy Father Beer.” The name eventually evolved into Salvator, which is Latin for “savior.” The monks liked the beer so much that they felt it might not be appropriate for Lent. At about 1629 they sought the opinion of the pope. The beer supposedly spoiled during the trek from Munich to Rome. Upon tasting it, the pope thought it was so horrendous that anyone who would dare to drink it for sustenance would be humbled by the experience. Thus, Salvator became a papal approved beer. Maffeo Barberini reigned as Pope Urban VIII from 1623 until his death in 1644.

During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century.

Brewing has always been honored as a noble and honorable art, and through the centuries, many brew masters have called upon saintly patrons to aid them in their craft.
The catholic church has a number of saints whose patronage has something to with beer, brewers, brewing ingredients or related occupations.

Patron Saints of Beer

Perhaps the most famous of brewing patrons is St. Arnulf of Metz. St. Arnulf was a bishop and advisor to king Theudebert II of Austrasia. After his death at Remiremont Abbey, parishioners from his former diocese of Metz, who already venerated him as a saint, went to recover his body. The journey was during a particularly hot part of the year, and the travelers were ready to faint of thirst. One of the parishioners, by the name of Duc Notto, cried out, “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Miraculously, their supply of beer was replenished and lasted until they returned home.

St. Gambrinus, Technically not a saint, but treated as one, especially in Belgium

St. Augustine of Hippo
: Patron saint of brewers

St. Luke the Evangelist – Patron saint of brewers.

St. Wenceslaus – Known for his heroic almsgiving and compassion for outcasts, St. Wenceslaus was venerated immediately upon his martyrdom in 935 A.D.


Whether you are using alcohol to help you live in the moment, grow in friendship, replicate the English coffeehouse, create an agora  or  simply enjoy life more, drinking  too much distorts the goodness of alcohol. The Bible always condemns drunkenness, and in the video above

Fr. Mike points out why. In doing so, he also shows how to really enjoy a drink with friends or family, and enjoying a drink the right way is much better than getting drunk and getting drunk is a sin. If you enjoy beer, drink responsibly.

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