Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St. John, Community Customs, and Wine!


Tuesday night, our Vespers (and Lauds too) celebrated St. John the Evangelist and Apostle. It is the custom of our Monastic Community to begin the supper with a special blessing of wine in the refectory! According to tradition, St. John survived drinking a cup of poisoned why because he had blessed it first. In some European cultures, the Feast of St. John is a day to make peace with enemies over a glass of wine.

The monastery celebrated the Feast of St. John with a blessing of our gifts of Christmas wine: boxes of white zinfandel next to bottles of Merlot and even a stray bottle or two of Mogen David. The blessing began with a call and response, a reading from the first letter of John, and then the prioress sprinkled all the wine and sisters with holy water. Finally, the Prioress completed the blessing with a prayer that closed with a toast!

The meal was our simple Tuesday fare, but with a glass or two of wine, we all lingered at our tables. The refectory was filled with stories, chatting, and laughter...the sound of sisters catching up as family. As one of the sisters who works away from the monastery, these long meals are a gift to hear about all the stories from home and each sister has so many tales to tell!

(The Blessing Prayer)
Almighty and ever-living God,
You loved us so much,
that in the fullness of time
You sent Your eternal Word, born of Mary
to make His dwelling among us.
We ask You to bless this wine
which You have given us to cheer our hearts.
As we share this fruit of the vine,
empower us to become Your children.
Make us one in love
that we may share in fullness the life of Your Son,
Your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendor of eternal light,
God for ever and ever.
(The Toast)
"Taste and see that the Lord is good! Amen"

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