Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Meet The Catholic Monks Brewing Belgian-Style Beer In Italy

monk-brewer-socialThey say Jesus turned water into wine, but a group of Catholic monks in Italy are turning water into beer. 

Before you get ahead of yourself, these monks aren’t creating beer through miracles (other than the miracle of brewing). 

They are, however, making a Belgian Blonde Ale and a Belgian Dark Ale with a back story that few breweries can match.

The brewery, which goes by the name Birra Nursia, is located in the Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy. 

A painting of the Virgin Mary sitting atop barley hangs over the thick wooden doors. 

Inside, monastery men with shaved heads and beards — St. Benedict style — brew, bottle and package the beer. Many of the men are from America, coming from Texas, South Carolina and Connecticut.

There you have it: American Catholic monks brewing Belgian beer in Italy. It’s a set-up as good as any “walks into a bar” joke, but it’s real, and you can get on a waiting list via the Birra Nursia website to try the beer for yourself.

“It is a drink which isn’t really necessary, but it brings a bit of joy to the hearts of those who drink it,” Father Benedict Nivakoff, one of the monastery men and brewers, told Catholic News Agency. “We take as our motto a line from Psalm 106: ‘ut laetificat cor,’ that the heart might be gladdened.”

Belgian-style beers have been brewed in monasteries for centuries. Initially, the beer from Birra Nursia served as a supplement for the monks while they fasted during Lent, when the monks only eat one meal a day. 

Drinking down the good stuff gives the monks a dose of protein, B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. Oh yeah, and a healthy buzz — the blonde is 6 percent alcohol and the dark is around 10. There aren’t enough nutrients to completely replace food, but it they doesn’t hurt and takes some of the edge off of eating so little.

The monastery opened in 2000 and the monks started selling beer to outsiders three years ago. 

The brewery, which was inaugurated by the Catholic Church in a public ceremony, can make 10 barrels of beer at a time. 

Each batch makes around 3,000 bottles, which are filled with 25 ounces of blonde or dark ale.

“We’ve sold out our inventory pretty much since day one,” Nivakoff told CNA. “We had to expand our plant after a year.”

Since March, Americans have been able to order online and have the beer shipped to them. 

There’s even a club, cunningly called the “Brewmonks’ Club,” where you can pledge to buy a six-pack of bottles every month. 

Each Brewmonks member also gets insider knowledge via newsletter about brewing life in the monastery.

Brew on brew monks. 

A good drink with a solid backstory is something we can all raise a glass to.

A whiff of schism: when different Catholics hold radically different beliefs

Featured ImageAt a Catholic parish in Athy, Ireland, a lesbian couple who resigned from parish ministry after entering a legal marriage has returned to active participation—and to loud applause. 

So now everyone is welcome in St. Michael’s parish, right?

Anthony Murphy, the editor of Catholic Voice—the man who objected to the lesbian couple’s prominent role in parish life—has received so many threats that he is, on the advice of the local police, staying away from the parish. 

But then again, if you know the whole story, you may wonder why Murphy would ever want to attend Mass at St. Michael’s.

The bitter dispute in this Irish parish is an extreme example of a sort of conflict that has become sadly familiar within Catholic communities. These conflicts erupted in the 1960s, peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, then subsided for a few decades. 

They have escalated again during the past three years, since the election of Pope Francis.

They involve fundamental disagreements about what it means to be Catholic: debates between people with irreconcilable views, who sometimes suggest (and sometimes forthrightly proclaim) that their adversaries must be excluded from the Church. 

These conflicts pose a clear and present danger to the unity of the Catholic faith, and they will continue until the fundamental questions that are now in dispute have been resolved.

Many good Catholics, motivated by the best of intentions, have sought to downplay these tensions, to avert a showdown. But the conciliatory approach cannot succeed when two sides are irreconcilable. A healthy Church cannot long accept a situation in which some members anathematize what other members endorse. 

(The worldwide Anglican communion, desperately fighting to avoid formal recognition of a schism that is already apparent to the world, illustrates my point.) 

Fundamental questions cannot be ignored and finessed and explained away indefinitely. 

Eventually the failure to answer a question is itself a sort of answer: a judgment that truth and integrity are less important than temporary peace and comfort. Such an answer is unworthy of Christians.

Since the shocking case of St. Michael’s in Athy is the starting point for this essay, let me recount the story:

Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan were prominent members of the parish: both singing in the choir, one the choir director, the other an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. They were also lesbian partners, united in a civil marriage ceremony. (Invitations to the wedding were passed out at choir practice.) 

When Anthony Murphy registered an objection, saying that their active role in parish ministry suggested an endorsement of their union, the pastor, Father Frank McEvoy, brushed away the objection. 

But Murphy’s protests made the couple uncomfortable enough so that they voluntarily stepped down… for a while.

The reaction from parishioners—support for O’Donnell and Flanagan, hostility toward Murphy—brought the couple back into the sanctuary. 

In their triumphant return at a Saturday-evening Mass on September 10, they led the choir in singing “I Will Follow Him”—which is not a hymn but a 1960s pop song, memorably performed by Whoopi Goldberg and others in the film comedy Sister Act—and were rewarded with raucous, shouting applause, which the pastor judged “well deserved.” 

At the conclusion of the Mass the couple stood before the altar together, arms raised, fists clenched, to new applause. 

They had won; Anthony Murphy had lost.

But not just Anthony Murphy.

“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared,” wrote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy. It is impossible to believe that the “human achievement” prompting applause in this case was the couple’s musical performance. (If you listen to their rendition of the song, readily available on YouTube, you’ll see what I mean.) No; this Catholic parish was saluting the couple for their homosexual union. And Yes, the essence of the liturgy had totally disappeared.

After that appalling display, one of the five priests who was on the altar at St. Michael’s said that he was sorry he had been there

Father Brendan Kealy explained that he had intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a fellow priest’s ordination:
I was not present to promote or condone same-sex ‘marriage’ or what appeared to be the apparent triumphant and victorious return of our musical directors which seemed to become the focus of the evening. In my opinion, the Mass was hijacked to support the cause of same-sex ‘marriage’ which is clearly in breach of Catholic Church teachings…I felt Saturday evening’s principal purpose of the Mass was grossly lost and I regret my participation.
Now what does it mean, when a Catholic priest regrets his participation in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Something is seriously wrong there, is it not? 

Father Kealy recognized that the Eucharistic liturgy had been exploited for political purposes—and for purposes that are incompatible with Catholic teaching, at that.

Notice that the exploitation of the Mass for any reason is unacceptable. Even if the distraction takes the form of a magnificent musical performance, that is, as Cardinal Ratzinger argued, an abuse of the liturgy. The Mass is Christ’s Sacrifice and the liturgy belongs to Him; we have no right to turn it to our earthly purposes.

But when those purposes are at odds with the Church’s teachings, the offense is even more grievous and the threat to Catholic unity more acute. American Catholics have been wrestling with this difficulty for years, as prominent Catholic politicians—from Kennedy and Cuomo through Pelosi and Kerry to Biden and Kaine—have continued to approach Communion despite their clear violation of Church precepts on key moral issues. 

Timid prelates tell us that they do not want to turn the Communion line into a political battleground, but that excuse misses the point. It already is a political battleground; the politicians had made it so, by refusing to acknowledge their break with the Church.

The canon law of the Church stipulates that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin”—such as those openly involved in illicit sexual unions, and those who publically support the legalized destruction of innocent human life—“are not to be admitted to holy Communion,” primarily because of the scandal involved. But there is another reason for this policy as well: a matter of that it means to be “in communion” with the Catholic Church.

To say that we are “in communion” with other Catholics is to profess that we believe what they believe, we worship as they worship, we are members of the same faith and recognize each other as such. We are not “in communion” with our Protestant friends, no matter how much we might love and respect them; nor are they in communion with us, since they “protest” various aspects of our faith. Nor are we fully “in communion” with the Orthodox, even if their belief in the Eucharist matches our own.

How can it be plausibly argued that Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan—and, apparently, most of the parishioners at that Saturday-night travesty—share the same faith as Anthony Murphy and Father Brendan Kealy? It cannot. 

Murphy thought that the lesbian couple should be excluded from parish leadership; the couple’s supporters made it clear, on a sympathetic web site, that they rejoiced in having purged Murphy’s “right-wing” views from their community. Clearly these people cannot profess a common faith, until the major issues that separate them have somehow been resolved. They are not “in communion” with each other.

Nor is their problem unique. More and more frequently, Catholics disagree on what it means to be in communion, what it means to be Catholics. Radically different beliefs are held, and dramatically different goals pursued, by different members within a parish, different parishes within a diocese, different dioceses within the universal Church. 

(To take just one prominent example, the indissoluble nature of the marriage bond apparently now means something different in Philadelphia and Phoenix from what it means in Argentina and Germany.) 

These divisions will continue to stretch the fabric of Catholicism, straining the seams, threatening a serious rift, until they are confronted. 

The unity of the faith requires unity of belief, and unity of belief requires clarity.

Teen sorry after filming foul-mouthed 'play' in Belfast church

Footage of the teen at the altarA teenager has apologised and denied he was mocking the Catholic Church after shocking footage appeared on the internet of him swearing while standing at an altar.

The video shows a youth behind the altar of St Joseph’s Chapel at Hannahstown on the outskirts of west Belfast where he appears to be mocking a part of the Mass when clergy sometimes sing words ahead of communion.

The boy then speaks into a mobile phone and swears and makes disparaging comments about a bride, as though he was conducting a wedding ceremony.

One local person said many parishioners were “furious” that the video was filmed inside the church and one described it was a “desecration”.

Asked if he wished to make any comment he said he was sorry if any offence was caused and claimed he was taking part in “a play. I’m sorry, it was a play”.

After deleting the video, a message also appeared on the boy’s Facebook page which stated: “That video was a play I was doing today. I did not mean to harm anyone in any sort off way!
“I deeply apologise if I have harmed anyone at all.

“I personally was offended by the video, this video was not to make mockery of the Catholic Church, it was a part off a play that was going on, I am deeply sorry for the video being posted!”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor was not immediately available for comment.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened.

In 2014, the filming of a raunchy pop video showing a couple simulate sex on the altar of the Good Shepherd Church in Belfast outraged parishioners.

Vandal damages Denver’s oldest active church

Image result for Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 2760 Larimer St.The Denver Police Department is searching for the person who damaged Denver's oldest active church.
Officers were called out to Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 2760 Larimer St. on Sunday morning. 

Parishioners walked into the church to find damage to the historic sanctuary.

They said someone at the church saw a man throwing things at the stained glass windows on Saturday night.

"Oh, it's just heartbreaking," 30-year church member Liz Ruby said. "This is a 135-year-old church. The statue was over 100 years old. This has been our family. This is my family. It breaks my heart. It's really sad to see."

Four broken stained-glass windows surround the sanctuary.

"We always look up at her and she's not there," longtime parishioner Esmerelda Martinez said.

The vandal also broke three large religious statues, including Our Lady of Guadalupe missing from her perch on a wall.

"We come to our Lady of Guadalupe and kneel and pray. And for her not to be here today is something very, very uncomfortable for us," Martinez said.

She has been coming to Sacred Heart since she was 8.

“You would believe it's peaceful and very safe. I don't know what kind of person wants to do this in a church," she said.

It's unknown if the surveillance camera caught the suspect in the act. Members said someone saw  him -- but he got away.

"It was a male, started grabbing things and throwing them at windows and our statues," Martinez said.

Now they're left wondering how they will repair damage to statues that are irreplaceable and stained glass that has withstood decades of time.

"There are sick people in the world. I don't understand," Ruby said.

Uganda: More Catholic Priests Rebel Against Archbishop Lwanga

Image result for Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito LwangaThe Roman Catholic Church in Uganda is facing a tough test as more priests walk away from the mainstream, threatening the harmony and discipline it has always been associated with.

At Lubaga, the seat of Kampala Archdiocese, there are fears that the growing resentment among priests towards Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga's leadership could lead to an Arua-like scenario.

A source at Lubaga told The Observer on Friday that the number of disenchanted priests has grown over what they call the archbishop's high-handedness.

"What happened in Arua is not far from happening at Lubaga because of the way the archdiocese is being managed," the source said.

On September 22, a combined force of regular and military police fought running battles with angry Christians at Ediofe cathedral in Arua. 

The Christians who converged overnight wanted to evict the Arua diocesan bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki who they accuse of mismanaging the diocesan affairs.

Bishop Odoki too has a trail of bad relations with priests under him. 

Some rebel priests in Kampala archdiocese have chosen to take a low profile while others have defected and joined charismatic preacher Fr Jacinto Kibuuka, who was suspended from the Catholic Church in July.

Notable among the defectors is Fr Dr Vincent Kibuuka Byansi, who previously headed Caritas Kampala, a church organisation involved in socio-economic development activities. 

Others are Fr Deogratius Ssonko and Fr Anthony Ssewanyana.

Russian Church official speaks about Vatican's unwillingness to discuss the problem of Greek-Catholics in Ukraine

Image result for Metropolitan Hilarion of VolokolamskThe Moscow Patriarchate official states again that actions of Greek-Catholics (Uniates) in Ukraine impede normal dialogue with the Catholic Church.
"The Unia is a stumbling block in the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church exercises certain restraint and even unwillingness to discuss the question," head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk told the journalists commenting the results of his recent meeting with Pope Francis and the session of the Orthodox-Catholic Commission for Theological Dialogue.
He stressed that it was impossible to avoid the question, "as Uniates loudly and violently remind of their existence almost every day."

The hierarch was positive about his meeting with the pontiff saying that he conveyed him a particle of St. Seraphim relics as a gift from Patriarch Kirill.

Metropolitan Hilarion pointed out that historic meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis held in Havana this February "opened new prospects in relations with the Roman Catholic Church."

Earlier, the Russian Church more that once accused Ukrainian Greek Catholics of anti-Russian rhetorics, also saying they were extremely politicized.