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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Enjoy the New Year With a Toast to St. Thomas Aquinas!

Last summer I..ah.. * cough * discovered...yeah...a piece of the Summa that had been ignored, and published it on my blog. Today I republish the main text of the question of whether beer can be blessed, and found that dear St. Thomas Aquinas indeed has an opinion. Now, mind you, given that this is New Years' Eve, he does address temperance and moderation. Fr. Kyle Schnippel has the Beer Blessing (in Latin, no less!) on his blog.

My personal favorite quote from the good Father Schnippel is this:

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

So read this section of the Summa carefully, take note of the linked Blessing, find a good Priest to invite to your party, and have a Happy New Year!


On Whether the blessing of beer is proper and can be justified?

Objection 1. It would seem that the impropriety of blessing the intoxicating liquid commonly called "beer" should be obvious to one and all who aspire to living a life of sanctity. As beer can be quickly intoxicating and thus eliminate the inhibitions of properly-sober persons, the action of "blessing" the beer would seem to give license not only to intoxication, but also to limited mental faculties that lead one into sin.

Objection 2: Further, blessing beer creates a temptation and an occasion of sin. When sober, a man has the use of full reason consistent with his intellectual capacity, however, the use of beer can diminish what reason he possesses. In the diminishment of reason, one may determine that something otherwise considered to be sinful would in fact be pleasent and "good", and thus, the beer would have lead said person down a path away from reason and towards sin. Such a thing is a temptation and thus the blessing can be termed to be "an occasion of sin."

Objection 3: Further, beer is a beverage not consumed at holy events, but in bars, backyard barbecues, and keg parties for the sake of imbibing great quantities for the intended purpose of intoxication. It should not be imbibed at all, and other intoxicating liquids should also be avoided for one trying to live a life in God's grace.

Objection 4: It is scandalous to the faithful to bless beer.

On the contrary, It is written (Jn 2:3) "When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine'". Even further, it is written in reference to the 30-gallon jars meant for ritual purification, that they be filled to the brim. In this, the first miracle of Jesus (Jn 2:7), Jesus changed that water into wine for the feast, and He provided a quantity fit to intoxicate a crowd of their own volition. Thus we see that although the scriptures mention abundant wine, they do not mention beer.

I answer that, beer was not an ingredient of celebration in biblical times, however that does not imply that the invention of it is ungodly, only different but similar in effects to the predecessor which was wine.

Reply to Objection 1: Good beer was created from earthly ingredients freely given by God for this purpose. Good beer was created from especially tasty elements and was designed not for embarassing consumption but to be sipped in fellowship and enjoyed as with a good wine. The intoxicating properties are limited through the virtue of the one who consumes the beverage. Beer consumed in proper amounts does not inhibit the life of sanctity.

Reply to Objection 2: As in the reply to Objection 1, although beer can be a temptation to sin by some, it is not a temptation to sin for all. I further answer that food can be a temptation for some, but that does not inhibit our need to ask God to bless our food. To argue that beer cannot be blessed because it may be a temptation and occasion for sin is fallacious; for that point to be true, those who are tempted to gluttony must not have their meals blessed, if they eat at all! Thus, blessing beer does not enter one into an occasion of sin.

Reply to Objection 3: I answer that beer is also consumed at fine meals and at family events, taken with food, and limited in quantity. Just as wine with dinner is not automatically drunk to intoxication, thus is beer. Beer is no different from wine in this regard. To argue against blessing beer is to argue against allowing wine to be blessed with the meal. Jesus himself consumed wine at Passover and had beer been created, he would likewise have consumed beer. Yet we do not read of Christ and his Apostles drinking to intoxication at the Last Supper.

Reply to Objection 4: It would seem that it is NOT scandalous to bless beer. As we also bless food and consume it, thus we must also bless beer to be consumed with the food, for its elements too, are gifts from God, as are our friends and family. It must be observed that the blessing must call to mind right use of those gifts, which further enables us to focus on the virtues of temperence and charity, while unblessed food or beer could lead us to treat those gifts and ourselves callously. Thus, we see that the blessing of beer would not only be spiritually advantageous, but could, in fact, draw one into a closer union with God through the increased virtue inspired by the blessing. Especially if the blessing is stated in Latin.

Further, the only thing that would cause the blessing to be scandalous would be if the priest blessed the beer and then refused access to the rest of the present faithful.


The original post and context in which it was written can be found here.

(Gotta love St. Thomas...what a guy!)


Cathy_of_Alex said...

I been saying this for YEARS! :-)

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Christine said...

Happy New Year!

Adoro said...

Cathy ~ LOL! Now you have the theological treatise to support your instinct!

Both of you...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jeff Miller said...

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

The original source for that is Benjamin Franklin.

Adoro said...

Jeff ~ I just got off the phone with Father S., and he told me the same thing. He didn't have time to comment here so now I'll have to edit to give credit to the dead Deist. * sigh * I so wish Father had said it himself...

swissmiss said...

Happy New Year Adoro!

St. Thomas totally rocks. Now if there was only an argument for chocolate!

Adoro said...

I'll see if I can find something! Let me do some research....