A little help making holiday cocktails — from the Saints

Holy Name Parish to hold fundraiser featuring author of Drinking with the Saints

Despite popular belief, adult beverages and the Catholic Church definitely go hand in hand; just ask Dr. Michael Foley, author of Drinking with the Saints: The Sinners Guide to a Holy Happy Hour.

“I believe that a healthy faith and a healthy drinking culture go hand in hand,” Foley told the Denver Catholic.

On Dec. 10, Holy Name Parish in Sheridan will host Foley as he speaks about his book, which is essentially a bartender’s guide mixed with an encyclopedia of saints. The evening will feature a silent auction, and samples of the some of the drinks featured in the book will be provided. All are invited, and proceeds from the $10 cover fee will benefit the expansion of Holy Name’s parish hall.

Father Daniel Cardo, pastor of Holy Name, said the purpose of the occasion is two-fold; the holidays bring with them lots of gatherings and parties, and Father Cardo thought it would be nice to provide some mixed drink ideas for hosts to serve their guests. More importantly though, he said it’s a way to bring Christ back to Christmas.

“In these celebrations and gatherings for family and friends, we want to bring Christ, but we know it’s difficult,” Father Cardo said. “Many people don’t think about Jesus during Christmas, sadly, so my hope is that this event will also give us some elements as to how, in a very friendly and loving way, to be able to bring Jesus Christ back to our Christmas gatherings.”

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Drinking with the Saints by Michael Foley pairs cocktails, wine and beer suggestions with the many feast days in the Church’s liturgical year. (Image provided)

The idea for Drinking with the Saints was sparked by Foley’s family traditions and his love of a good cocktail. The book is organized by the liturgical year and features over 350 cocktails in addition to wine and beer suggestions, all paired with the Church’s feast days. Each day features a drink suggestion and a short biography of the saint, rife with interesting facts.

“I got the idea to write the book from my own family’s customs – we enjoy the liturgical year – and also my wife and I enjoy an evening cocktail, so it was only a matter of time before those two things came together,” Foley said.

The book, Father Cardo said, is thoroughly researched, and does a good job of presenting biographical information about various saints in a fun manner.

“The book is a very interesting combination of a lot of research, but expressed in a fun and deeply Catholic way,” he said. “It has a lot of information about the saints and the liturgical year, and a lot if information about drinks, which offers a very virtuous, human and fun way of enjoying God’s blessings.”

He added, “I think it makes a great Christmas present.”

A drink recipe from Michael Foley

Two days prior to Foley’s talk at Holy Name is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The author was kind enough to share with the Denver Catholic a recipe for a “White Lady,” which he said was “an appropriate cocktail salute to Our Lady’s immaculate purity.”

White Lady
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. triple sec or Cointreau
1/2 oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 egg white (optional but tasty)
Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Drinking with the Saints

Saturday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m., $10
Holy Name Parish
3290 W. Milan Ave.
Sheridan, CO 80110

For more information, and to buy the book, visit drinkingwiththesaints.com

COMING UP: Sin, suicide and the perfect mercy of God

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I love my hair stylist. 

She’s a devoted Christian. So, when I see her, we tend to have much deeper discussions than the usual gossipy hair stylist sessions. And, because it’s a small shop, the discussions often branch out to the other people within earshot, waiting for their appointments or waiting for their color to process. Because she tends to attract a smart and faithful clientele, the discussion is always interesting. 

Yesterday, at my bimonthly appointment, we somehow got onto the topic of suicide — specifically, the insidious way that it spreads among teenagers. One suicide often leads to another, which leads to another. I made the comment “It is demonic.” 

At that point, a woman in the waiting area chimed in. “I disagree. I’m Catholic. It used to be a mortal sin, but they changed it. It’s not any more. It’s mental illness.” 

If a nice Catholic lady at my hair salon could be confused about this, I figured perhaps some of you out there may be as well. Which made me think perhaps it’s time for a little review on the nature of sin — both in general, and specifically as it applies to suicide. 

First, sin in general. The fundamental point here is that the Catholic Church has no power to decide what is a sin and what isn’t. It’s not like there’s a committee that meets periodically to review the list of sins, and decide if any need to be promoted from venial to mortal, or demoted from mortal to venial, or dropped from the list entirely. 

Sins are sins because they are outside of God’s will. And they are outside of God’s will because they have the potential to do tremendous damage to people created in His image and likeness, whom He loves. We know they are sins because it was revealed to us in Scripture, or it has been handed down from the time of Christ in sacred tradition. Sometimes the Church must apply these timeless, God-given principles to new situations, to determine the morality of technologies undreamt of in ancient times. 

The Church has the authority to do that because she received it from Christ, her bridegroom. And once she does declare on a subject, we believe it is done through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So the Church isn’t going to change her mind. Something can’t be a sin, and then suddenly NOT be a sin. 

“But,” you ask. “What about eating meat on Friday? That was a sin, and now it isn’t.” This is an example of a discipline of the Church. Eating meat has never, in itself, been an objectively sinful behavior — on Fridays or any other day. But the Church was calling us, as Jesus calls us, to do penance. And the Church selected that penance as something we could all, as a Church, do together. The sin was never in the ingestion of the meat. It was in disobeying the Church in this matter. This particular discipline has been dropped. But it doesn’t change our obligation to in some way do penance for our sins and the sins of the world. 

Now, on to suicide. It is obvious that something must have changed in the teachings of the Church. Because, in the olden days, a person who committed suicide couldn’t be buried with a Catholic funeral Mass. And now they can. So what gives? 

Here’s the situation. Taking innocent human life is always a grave evil. (I add the “innocent” qualifier to distinguish this discussion from one about self defense, or about the death penalty — which in a sense is self defense. But those are separate discussions.) God is the author of life, and it is He who decides when our lives will end. To usurp that power always has been, and always will be, a grave moral evil. 

But there is an important distinction we must understand. There is the objective gravity of the sin — the nature of it, and the great damage done by it. Then there is the question of the individual’s moral culpability of that sin. In other words: a great evil was done. But is the person who did it liable to judgment for it? Or were there extenuating circumstances that mean that, while the evil was indeed done, the person who did it was somehow functioning in a diminished capacity that reduces or eliminates their moral responsibility? 

For a person to be culpable for a mortal sin, three conditions must be met. First, the objective act must be gravely sinful. Second and third, the person committing the sin must do so with full knowledge of the sinfulness of the act, and full consent of the will. In the question of suicide, we have learned to much about the psychological condition of a person driven to such a horrible deed. The instinct to self preservation is strong. In order to overcome it, the mental and/or physical suffering is frequently very intense. There may even be, as my friend at the salon mentioned, mental illness involved. All of this can drastically reduce a person’s mental and intellectual capacity to make rational decisions. 

And so, while an objectively horrifying act has occurred, God may very well have tremendous mercy on that person’s soul, given the extreme states of agitation and pain that led up to the act. 

Know that I write all of this as someone who has lost one beloved relative and several friends to suicide. And I am tremendously optimistic in my hope that they are with God. Not because they didn’t do something terrible, or that what they did was somehow justified. But because the God who loves them sees their hearts, and knows that pain and suffering can drive people to acts they wouldn’t possibly consider while in their “right” minds. 

And this is why the Church offers the Rite of Christian Burial to those who die by suicide. Because they need the prayers. And their families need the comfort. And because the Church, too, believes in that the God who embodies perfect justice also embodies perfect mercy. 

And we live in great hope that they are with Him.