Outside of beer connoisseurs and even many Catholics there is a general ignorance to the presence of beers brewed by monks. I imagine that to many the idea of religious men and women making the devils water is ghastly or amusing. The fact is as Catholics we don't condemn alcohol, we just condemn it's abuse and stress moderation.
Right now there are several monasteries in Belgium that brew beer. These monasteries are all Cistercians, or more specific the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, most popularly known as Trappists. The types that I've had so far are dark and rich ales. Recently an American abbey has teamed up with Sierra Nevada Brewery to make this liquid bread.
There are also some beers that had their origins in religious orders. Paulener wheat beer out of Munich used to be brewed by an order of Franciscans called the Minims. In Belgium there is Leffe beer that isn't brewed by monks anymore, but it's still affiliated with the abbey that started it.
I like beer, but a large percentage of beer's appeal to me is it's history, especially it's Catholic history. So when you find yourself looking for some brew, check out some Chimay, or try some Paulener Hefe-Wiessbier and relish in the though that some monk or friar had a hand in it's creation.
“From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.” – Saint Arnold of Metz
Today during the homily our priest lamented the fact that our parish hasn't produced any priest and religious. Our Diocese is reputed to be doing well along the lines of priest, but apparently our parish hasn't contributed. I thought about the priests that have been here as long as I've been attending my current parish and out of all of them only one was from this town, and he was a convert after he left to go to college. As far as the priesthood goes I can only think that the lack of Catholic identity in our deanery and diocese is a big contributor. Have a strong Catholic Identity and it helps define who we are as a people, helps nullify the constant attacks on the Church, helps nullify the ridicule of the priesthood by our society and for young men it makes choosing a life in the sacerdotal ranks not so alien. And of course you have the people, parents and friends who have to encourage their sons, brothers, nephews, and yes even dads and uncles to listen to God when He calls.
As for religious, that's easy, have more brothers and sisters in the diocese. Make religious more visible and a part of the daily life of the Catholics in the diocese. This is part of that Catholic Identity I was talking about. Religious are virtually mythical creatures around here, and the religious we have are of the older social justice types that blend in with the crowd. It would be good for our bishop to invite some of the thriving religious orders full of young people like the various communities of Dominican sisters or the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Also inviting some priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter or similar societies would probably help to inspire some future clerics. It could be that I'm suggesting something that isn't as feasable as I wish it to be, for I don't know about the logistcs and protocol involved in this, so be it, but this is my story and I'm sticking to it.
St. Serapion of Algiers. Born Irish, fought for Richard the Lion-Hearted, later for the Duke of Austria, Leopold VI the Glorious, then he enlisted in his squadron to go to Spain to help Alfonso VIII fight Moslems. Once in Spain, he decided to stay in the service of the king of Castile. He met Peter Nolasco and his Mercedarians brothers. In 1222, he became a Mercedarion. He was martyred after offering himself as a hostage in place of a Christian captive. His feast day is November 14, so he'll be back again in five months. San Serapio ruega por nosotros.
Last Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday, this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Easter is the secular holiday of Mother's Day, but since May is Mary's month I'll combine all this and in keeping with my Mercedarian theme I'll dedicate this post to Our Lady of Mercy.
Friar of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy known as Mercedarians.
They were founded in 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco in Barcelona. Initially the order was comprised by ordained and lay monks and knights, by the 14th century the knights were supressed.
They followed the rule St Raymond of Pennafort ultimately settling with the rule of St. Augustine. http://orderofmercy.org/ Photo from the Mercedarian Formation blog
It is common for someone to approach a man or woman in our military's uniform and say "Thank you for your service."
In a bookstore I used to work in I once observed a soldier(who just happened to have been deployed to Iraq) observe this eldelry man wearing a black hat encrusted with military insignia. The hat indicated that he had been in some major conflict from the past, I really don't remember, I'm guessing it was WWII or Korea. The soldier kind of observed the old man for a second, then approached him and said "Thank you for your service sir."
That was pretty awesome...at least to me. This soldier, a senior NCO that had been in a hot spot, had a deep respect for his predecessor. The expression on the soldier's face demonstrated a true reverence for the old man, his thanks was really genuine.
We should have the same gratitude for our religious. They give up a life in this world to serve us and by doing so ultimately God. They take care of the poor, the sick, teach, provide spiritual assistance and make awesome beer.
"But, I'm not sick, or poor, or even like beer, how does some monk in a monastery making fruitcake serve me?"
Well, around the world there are men and women that dedicate their lives to pray for the rest of us.
Rest assured, we are all covered, thanks to our brothers and sisters in consecrated life.
So the next time you are int he airport and you see that Marine in his service alphas, walk over and thank him for his service and if you happen to see a group of Dominican sisters, thank them for their service.