Hi, my name’s Fr. Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascention Presents. A couple years ago,
my dad was at a conference in England. They went to Oxford, he and my mom,
and they went into a pub called The Eagle and the Child. They knew I would be pretty excited when they told me they went to the pub called the Eagle and the Child, so they took a picture of a booth —you know,
a booth in a bar, a pub — to send back to me. Like, what? That’s really weird.
Why would they go to a pub in Oxford, take a picture of a booth,
and send it to their son, the priest? And the reason is because
The Eagle and the Child is the name of the pub
that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and some other of their compatriots, contemporaries, known as The Inklings would spend a lot of time. And that’s where they grew —
in a lot of ways, they grew their fraternity together. they grew in their friendship
and fellowship with each other, talked about big ideas, criticized each other’s works,
and then built each other up. So the Babe and the Bear, or Babe and the Bird?
Yeah, the Bird and the Babe. The Eagle and the Child is that
pub, and that was their booth. And I can just picture
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis sitting there with a pint of some kind of beer,
and it always has this great romantic idea in my head of just these friends gathered together with a couple beers, and just becoming
closer and closer friends, and becoming better and better
fellow Christians with each other. Because that’s what getting together over food or getting together over drinks can do. But here’s the question: If that’s what can happen —
if we can drink as Catholic Christians, then like,
HOW do you drink as a Catholic Christian? (With your mouth.) [Laughter]
But here’s what I’m saying, is… You know, there are some Christians who say, “Absolutely not. I can’t drink at all.
No alcohol, absolutely.” As Catholics we say,
“No. Wine, beer, those spirits (as they say), alcohol — is a good, it’s a gift.” In fact, Psalm 104 says wine gives
warmth to men’s hearts. Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana,
turned the water into wine. I know there it’s much more symbolic —
it represents over-flowing grace, but I’d imagine somebody
drank that wine. They had to taste it
in order to say it was the best. In scripture, St. Paul writes to Timothy and says
have some wine, not just water, for your stomach. So there is no condemnation
of alcohol itself in Scripture. There absolutely is a condemnation
of drunkenness in Scripture. I have found
a lot of Catholics who say, “Yeah, we’re Catholics, we’re not like
some other Christians who can’t drink. We’re Catholics so we can drink all the time.” That’s actually
not what the teaching is. Chesterton, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis: They drank in a way
that would help them live in the moment. They drank in a way that would help them savor
the pleasures of the body that God has given to them. They drank in such a way
that actually bonded them more because it didn’t distort
the goodness of that moment, it didn’t distort
the goodness of themselves, and it didn’t distort
the goodness of alcohol. But so many Catholics are like, “No, we’re Catholic so we can drink, so I’m just gonna drink indiscriminately.” And that’s a problem. Because every time —
I’m gonna say this again — every time the Bible talks about drunkenness,
it’s always in a way that condemns it. Now when it talks about alcohol
it doesn’t always condemn it. It’s often seen as a gift.
It’s even talked about as the reward in some ways. It’s the blessing of God,
to have abundant wine. But to drink to the point of drunkenness
is absolutely always condemned in the Bible. Why? I would say this:
it exacerbates the consequences of the fall. Think about what happened in the fall,
like original sin, right? The fall, in the garden of Eden. We had a darkened intellect, we had a weakened will, and we lost our freedom. Not completely, but we lost freedom. What does an abundance
of alcohol do to us? Well, it dims our intellect, that’s for sure.
We’re not making good decisions. It weakens our will.
So, it lowers our inhibitions. I say yes to things I shouldn’t say yes to,
I say no to things that I shouldn’t say… you know I’m saying. And it reduces my freedom.
It makes me more of a slave. Now think about this: to take a good gift of God
and to use it in such a way that it exacerbates
the consequences of the fall would be to take a good thing
and use it for an evil purpose. So drunkenness
is always condemned. So how do I
approach alcohol as a Catholic? One, as a gift. But, secondly, not simply as a gift
to be indiscriminately taken in, but as a gift to truly be enjoyed. This is the big point, this is the big piece.
Here’s what I mean. A couple years ago I was with some family friends,
and they had some wine. And so, we’re having wine out on the deck,
and it’s a nice night and whatever. And they ran out of wine
and so we’re like, okay, whatever. It was a fun night
just hanging out with each other. So the patriarch of the group, the dad,
he was like “No, no, no.” He had a cellar down in his basement,
and, like, wow this is nice. And he said
“I’ll come up with a really nice bottle for just us.” Great! This is awesome.
And he comes up with this really nice bottle, like, kind of the nicest, most
expensive wine I’ve ever had in my life. His wife, meanwhile goes into the kitchen,
starts chopping up strawberries and making slivers of chocolate, you know,
chopping up slivers of chocolate and she brings it out and they’re like,
okay, here’s how you drink it. Now up until that point we’ve
been enjoying the moment, enjoying each other’s presence,
enjoying each other’s company and enjoying the cheaper wine. But at this moment, everything changed. It was like, “Okay, slow down. Now when you take a sip of wine,
here’s how you taste it.” Here, have a strawberry.
Now taste this. Now have a thing of chocolate,
now taste this. And what they were doing was,
they’re saying, okay what we’re going to do is, we’re not just gonna pound it back.
We’re going to enjoy every sip. Because this is the thing. When it comes to being Catholic,
enjoying something is not a bad thing. And so, “don’t get drunk” is not
“stop enjoying it.” “Don’t get drunk” is basically
the law of diminishing returns, right? The more and more you drink alcohol,
the less and less you can actually enjoy it. The church is saying —
scripture is saying — that to enjoy alcohol
but to absolutely avoid drunkenness, is to learn how to enjoy
a good thing as it is, to NOT have the law of diminishing returns —
with each glass you enjoy it less and less and less, but to be, what they call, moderate
in such a way that you don’t enjoy it less, but you can actually
be free to enjoy it more. To slow down and say
the reason why we’re here is to be with each other; what we’re drinking or eating
or whatever it is we’re doing — this is actually for God’s glory. And I can savor this moment, I can savor your presence
and I can actually savor this drink. But the moment
the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and I can no longer savor
this good thing that the Lord has given to me is the moment
that I should probably dial it back. This is how Catholics drink:
we drink to enjoy the gifts of God, we drink to enjoy
the presence of our friends, and we drink to enjoy the moments that God has given
us and to give glory to him by our joy. Because God takes joy in our joy. Enjoy — if you’re over 21. Enjoy the drink. Or, if you’re under 21,
enjoy the soda pop or the sparkling water or whatever it is that you’re drinking
that’s non-alcoholic. But savor it;
enjoy the good things of the Lord, so that in all things, whether eating or drinking,
we can give glory to God. Hope that made sense.
I don’t know. That’s what I got though. From all of us here at Acsension Presents,
my name’s Fr. Mike. God bless! That’s what I got. Like, subscribe, thumbs up, thumbs down. If you disagree, if you think
“That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” tell me! But don’t?
I don’t know, that’s really harsh. It’s okay. Whatever.