Thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
With International Buy a Priest a Beer Day quickly approaching (September 9th), I’ve been thinking about the Catholic art of drinking. There’s no formal rules to drinking doctrinally found, but St. Paul does tell us to avoid “drinking bouts” (Gal. 5:21) and to “not get drunk on wine” (Eph. 5:18).
So, we could engage in the other extreme which is complete abstinence of alcohol—which in some cases may be necessary—but I’d like to propose that a happy medium between “drinking bouts” and complete avoidance can be found. Engaging in the virtue of temperance, this lost art of drinking could be resurrected and employed as a prime means of evangelization.
G.K. Chesterson said:
Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.
Now back to the idea of evangelizing over a nice drink. My husband lead a Bible study with three Protestants and one other Catholic, and yes, it was a Catholic Bible study. The only thing that brought the Protestants over was the promise of a night cap. During this time, the conversations ebbed and flowed between casually discussing the differences between the two religions and the sharing of stories, peppered with some Catholic truth bombs. One of the Protestants did convert to Catholicism, but the seeds that were planted during those casual drinking sessions can still be seen today.
The bottom line is, in today’s culture, approaching alcohol with the mindset that drinks are to be savored and not simply indulged in as a means to an end, is evangelizing. Go to any bar and look around; there’s people drinking to celebrate, to mourn, and perhaps to escape. The thing a lot of these people have in common is that they’re looking to drink in excess. Enjoying a cocktail as means of celebration is a little taste of the eternal banquet.
Here’s some Catholic liquors that can be shaken or stirred, and their history discussed:
Beer lovers, check this out: American Catholic Beer List
And for you wine lovers, drink some Chianti and read: St. John & the Catholic Wine Tradition