Monk Brewing Beer I was crawling through the internet to recall some of my favorite ales in answer to Randy’s last post. Interestingly enough, as I tried to find information about the brewer of the Whitsun Ale in Michigan, I came across this entry in the Catholic Culture website. I never knew there was a celebration for Pentecost Sunday much less a blessing of ales! I love the marriage of Catholicism and beer…the puritanical attitudes need to hit the road.

Christians of years past understood this day much better than we do. When they celebrated Whitsunday with games and races and feasts, they were marking another milestone in the years of the Church’s existence. When we celebrate Pentecost, we think of it as a day long dead and gone when something mysterious happened in an “upper room.” When they toasted the Church with Whitsun ale, they were giving her praise here and now as a living, holy mother, a mother who came home with them for “birthnight festivities.” When we hear our Mass on Pentecost, that is enough and we leave our mother without so much as a nod. When they made merry with dances and decorated their houses with newly budded beech branches, they were enjoying an anniversary of their own. This was the close of the Easter feasting and as members of the Church this was their birthday, too. We, on the other hand, forget the festival, ignore the implications, and lose another feast day.

Those who have lived through years of the great prohibition experiment have developed phobias about drinking and making merry. We have been infected by the puritanical idea that all intoxicants are harmful to all peoples at all times. At the same time secularism has declared beer and ale and wine to be no longer gifts of God, but trappings of the elite or the guzzlings of the gutter. Many Catholics today would be shocked or mildly surprised, depending on their intake of intoxicants, to know that the Church actually blesses ale in its liturgy,

Bless, O Lord, this creature, ale, which by Thy power has been produced from kernels of grain. May it be a healthful beverage to mankind, and grant that through the invoking of Thy holy name all who drink thereof may find it a help in body and protection in soul.

God has given us many good gifts to use, but not abuse. So with a mug of Whitsun ale, we toast the Church who teaches her children self-control rather than “other-fellow-control.”

This year, Pentecost Sunday falls on May 27th……