|Mallon's Media Watch|
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Don't forget to have your wine blessed on St. John's Day!
The Blessing of St. John’s Wine
December 27, Feast of St. John
By transforming pre-Christian customs the Church gave new meaning to pagan practices such as the sacrificial libation by giving them Christian content. In honor of different saints the early Church blessed wine as a Minne (love drink). Among these blessings has remained above all the blessing of St. John’s Wine (Johanniswein). The legend tells of the apostle having blessed a cup of poisoned wine and thus having freed it from its poison. Legend tells of how a serpent left the wine after St. John made the sign of the Cross over it, and how afterwards St. John drank the wine and suffered no ill effects. St. John’s wine reminds us of the commandment to love one another, which St. John constantly preached. The custom of blessing Johanniswein continues on the Feast of St. John (December 27)to this very day in central Europe. The priest blesses wine after Mass and the celebration is called Johannisminne. At the meal on Johannestag (St. John’s Day) the family toasts: “Trink die Liebe des heiligen Johannes.” (“Let us drink the love of St. John!”) The wine is kept through the year for special occasions such as weddings, and given to the sick, and the dying after they receive Viaticum.
This Blessing is given at the final blessing of the Mass:
A reading from the Book of Sirach:
Wine is very life to man if taken in moderation. Does he really live who lacks the wine which was created for his joy? Joy of heart, good cheer and merriment are wine drunk freely at the proper time. Headache, bitterness and disgrace is wine drunk amid anger and strife. More and more wine is a snare for the fool; it lessens his strength and multiplies his wounds. Rebuke not your neighbor when wine is served nor put him to shame when he is merry; use no harsh words with him and distress him not in the presence of others.
Or: 1 John 4: 7–12
V: Praise the Lord for he is good.
R: Thank the Lord for he is good.
V: Wine gladdens the heart of men.
R: Thank the Lord for he is Good.
Let us Pray
O Lord our God you give us wine as fruit of the earth and the work of human hands. Your son Jesus Christ has chosen wine as the sign of the New Covenant in his blood.
Bless + this wine which we drink in honor of the holy apostle John. Let us experience that you are the Lord who gladdens the hearts of men, and that you our Lord are the author of community. We ask these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When the wine is drunk these words are said:
“Drink the love of St. John!”
Have a Holy Christmas
By John Mallon
December 17, 1995
The Sooner Catholic
Christmas is coming, and we at the Sooner Catholic pray that all our readers have a Christmas filled with joy and wonder and happiness. But we know that for many among us it will be a difficult time, a painful time. The holidays are often difficult for many people. For one thing, in our city it is the first Christmas since the terrible bombing of April 19. I would especially like to address victims of this tragedy and anyone else who may be experiencing depression, grief, pain, sadness and mourning this Christmas season.
I think these difficulties are especially difficult during the holidays because we tend to be unmerciful to ourselves at these times. We may say to ourselves, “It’s Christmas, I’m supposed to be happy!” “I’m not supposed to feel this way!” “Everybody else is happy, I should be too!” “I have to put up a good front, so I won’t ruin it for everyone else!” “I should be over this by now!”
No you’re not, Yes you are, no they’re not, no you shouldn’t, no you don’t, don’t worry about them, and if you’re not over this by now, then you shouldn’t be over this by now! Whew!
Mercy! If you weren’t depressed to begin with, you would be if you listened to all these voices running around in your head! Now, I am not advocating that we wear our hearts on our sleeves, or engage in public misery or whining and complaining. (Indeed, there is a time for putting away sadness, and if we are striving to maintain healthy thinking, perhaps with professional help, we’ll recognize it.) But we need to be kind to ourselves. I think holidays are hard for some people because if we are in pain we may feel left in the backwash: “Everyone else is happy, I should be too!”
First of all that is not true, everyone has heartaches to one degree or another. Second, if a person who had always been such a key ingredient in our happiness is gone, how can we be happy if our heart is broken? But hearts do heal and happiness does return (and can make appearances even in the midst of grief).
For those feeling left in the backwash at Christmas, I would like to remind you that you are not. In fact, you are at the very heart of the matter. Christmas is especially for you. The Light of the World came to us in the midst of a cold, dark, night. He was rejected, He had to sleep in the barn, not to mention be born there.
The Baby Jesus is the hope of the world who came especially for you in your night of darkness. You need not deny, repress or ignore your pain. Bring it to the Manger. That is what the Manger is for. The Baby there smiles for you. He was born there for you just as he came to die for you, to bring you hope, and bring light to your night of death and grief. Embrace that Baby, who is your saviour, and you will not be left out, but in the heart of the matter, the center of the action. This is the meaning of Christmas. This is the spirit of the season. All of those Christmas hymns and Advent Scripture readings are about you. “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who have dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown” (Isaiah 9:1)
If we allow the Baby Jesus to do what He came for—penetrate our darkness as we embrace Him, and cradle Him in our arms, we will be living in the heart of Christmas, and even in the midst of suffering, we will know Joy, and have a holy Christmas.
John Mallon - Gaudete Sunday: This Child Is Our Victory