Where else would a seminarian and a priest be doing on a rainy, Thursday afternoon in
the middle of prep work for midterm exams & papers? If you guessed wine
making then you answered correctly. Taking a break from an afternoon of
meetings, paper writing and exam prep, Father Philip (from Burma) and I took a
ride over to Saint Leopold Friary to see what the good Franciscan Friars of the
Renewal are doing with their wine making project. Brother Giuseppe Maria is
spear-heading a Franciscan making effort for two years. This second try seems
to be off and running well.
Sacred Scripture supports wine drinking (and wine making, of course). Can one ever think of true Christianity without wine? If you
don’t believe me look at 1 Timothy 5:23 which says: “No longer drink only
water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent
ailments.” If you want more holy Scripture, try on Revelation 6:5-6 for size:
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!”
And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in
his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living
creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley
for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
Looking into the spiritual
tradition you can see monks and friars making wine and beer for medicinal
purposes. Let’s just look a the Benedictine tradition for a second. In chapter
40 of his Rule for Monasteries, Saint Benedict doesn’t think wine should be
served to monks but he concedes that it may be served to the
sick and those who
can’t be persuaded otherwise. Saint Benedict writes: “However, with due regard
for the infirmities of the sick, we believe that a half a bottle of wine a day
is sufficient for each. And then he says: “We read it that monks should not
drink wine at all, but since the monks of our day cannot be convinced of this, let
us at least agree to drink moderately and not to the point of excess, for
“wine makes even the wise fall away” (Eccles. 19:2). OK, so tradition
is a beautiful thing and so let’s enjoy a little bit of life. Just for the
record, Mount Angel Abbey has a Festival of Arts and Wine.
So it is no wonder Brother Giuseppe and his Franciscan brothers are making
wine. This IS serious work!
Here are some photos of step two in making homemade wine.
Our Lady of
Cana, pray for us.