October 26, 2006

From Catholic Men's Quarterly

Charles A. Coulombe comments on demon rum:
It must be supposed that our complete collapse in sexual mores forces the Puritanical element of our culture to repress innocent pleasures. Thus we are moralistic and amoral all at the same time.

What is the Catholic view on these matters? Well, the love of such as Chesterton and Belloc of both smoking and drinking are very well known; it was even said by their contemporaries that the Chesterbelloc had misheard the Creed, and thought it demanded belief in “One, Holy, Catholic, and Alcoholic Church.” But in reality, the views of the Church go back to the Book of Proverbs’ injunction to give strong drink to the poor and suffering, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ dictum that one could drink ad usque hilaritatem—“to the point of hilarity.” St. Benedict in his rule ordered that each monk be given a measure of wine a day; in Medieval England, that measure was considered to be a gallon, so English monks must have been quite merry, indeed. It is no wonder that the Benedictine Dom Perignon invented champagne.

But does that mean that a Catholic must guzzle and puff to be a good Catholic? By no means. Strict religious orders give it up save on feast days, or even all together. Many a pious Catholic has “taken the pledge,” of perpetual abstinence. But their attitude toward the stuff is totally different from that of the Puritan or the Killjoy.

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