October ‘Saints, Monks & Beer’ pilgrimage will immerse pilgrims in Catholic culture

Aaron Lambert

The history of Catholicism and beer is a fascinating one, combining a litany of libations with that of the saints and the rich spiritual tradition of the Church.

Those intrigued by any of these things may want to consider partaking in the “Saints, Monks & Beer” pilgrimage Oct. 19 – 29. The pilgrimage is intended to explore the Catholic culture in Belgium and Northern France and will be led by Dr. R. Jared Staudt, Catechetical Formation Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver. Father John Riley, chaplain for the Augustine Institute, will serve as the chaplain for the pilgrimage.

“I’m aiming for a total immersion in the Catholic tradition, and that’s going to be through art, prayer, the saints, through food and drink, and really experiencing the life of the monks,” Staudt said.

The pilgrimage will also coincide with the release of Staudt’s new book, The Beer Option: A Catholic Guide to Beer and Culture, which is set to be released early October through Angelico Press.

The pilgrimage will begin in Paris and make its way to various parts of France rife with solid ties to the Church, including various cathedrals, churches and places associated with some of France’s great saints, not the least of which is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Of course, the famous Louvre Museum is also on the itinerary, as well as a night at the Solesmes Benedictine monastery.

From France, pilgrims will make their way to Belgium, which is where the beer lovers on the pilgrimage will truly be satisfied. Pilgrims will visit several different Trappist monasteries throughout Belgium, including Westvleteren Trappist monastery, home of Westvleteren 12 beer (voted the best beer in the world in 2014), and Scourmont Abbey, home of Chimay Beer. Not only will they be able to taste some of these beers directly from the tap, they’ll also be given the chance to pray in the monasteries with the monks.

“The monks created the first large-scale breweries in Europe, and they essentially began brewing beer as we know it today,” Staudt said. “If you look at our brewing process today, the monks perfected that.”

Pilgrims will have the unique opportunity to witness this process firsthand, but it’s also something Staudt explores at length in his new book. Contrary to popular belief, beer has played an integral role in Catholic culture and the history of the Church, and Staudt hopes to enlighten those who thought otherwise and come to a fuller understanding of what it really means to be Catholic. A copy of his new book will be given to each pilgrim, which will serve almost as a supplement to the pilgrimage.

“We’re not just tourists, we’re pilgrims through the culture, and the culture, in an integrated way, will be our guide through the tradition,” Staudt said. “I really would just like to lead Catholics more deeply into Catholic culture.”

To learn more about the pilgrimage, join Dr. Staudt and Father Riley for an evening of Catholic culture at De Steeg Brewing (also the home of Blind Faith Brewing) at 4342 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212 on April 10th at 7 p.m. Come out and support a new Catholic-owned brewery and learn more about how the monks have shaped beer throughout the centuries. Light food will be provided and beer, of course, will be available for purchase.

Saints, Monks & Beer: The Catholic Culture of France and Belgium
Oct. 19 – 29
Cost: $3,678 ($350 nonrefundable deposit due at time of registration)
To register, visit rtijourneys.com or call 303-563-6261

COMING UP: Local artists choose life in pro-life art show

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For someone who’s always been in love with art, it’s not surprising that Brett Lempe first encountered God through beauty. Lempe, a 25-year-old Colorado native, used his talent for art and new-found love of God to create a specifically pro-life art show after a planned show was cancelled because of Lempe’s pro-life views.

Lempe was “dried out with earthly things,” he said. “I was desperately craving God.”

Three years ago, while living in St. Louis, Mo., Lempe google searched for a church to visit and ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

“I was captivated by the beauty of the 40 million mosaic tiles,” he said.

Lempe is not exaggerating. This Cathedral is home to 41.5 million tiles that make up different mosaics around the sanctuary. Witnessing the beauty of this church is what sparked his conversion, he said, and was his first major attraction towards Catholicism.

Lempe continued on to become Catholic, then quit his job several months after joining the Church to dedicate himself completely to art. Most of his work post-conversion is religious art.

Lempe planned to display a non-religious body of artwork at a venue for a month when his contact at the venue saw some of Lempe’s pro-life posts on Facebook. Although none of the artwork Lempe planned to display was explicitly pro-life or religious, the venue cancelled the show.

“I was a little bit shocked at first,” he said. “Something like me being against abortion or being pro-life would get a whole art show cancelled.”

Lempe decided to counter with his own art show, one that would be explicitly pro-life.

On Sept. 7, seven Catholic artists displayed work that gave life at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Denver.

“Catholicism lends itself to being life-giving,” Lempe said.

The show included a variety of work from traditional sacred art, icons, landscapes, to even dresses.

Students for Life co-hosted the event, and 10 percent of proceeds benefited the cause. Lauren Castillo, Development director and faith-based program director at Students for Life America gave the keynote presentation.

Castillo spoke about the need to be the one pro-life person in each circle of influence, with coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The reality of how many post-abortive women are already in our circles is big, she said.

“Your friend circle will get smaller,” Castillo said. “If one life is saved, it’s worth it.”

Pro-Life Across Mediums

Brett Lempe’s Luke 1:35

“This painting is the first half at an attempt of displaying the intensity and mystical elements of Luke 1:35,” Lempe said. “This work is influenced somewhat by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ painting as I try to capture the moment when the “New Adam” is conceived by Our Blessed Mother.”

Claire Woodbury’s icon of Christ Pantokrator

“I was having a difficult time making that icon,” she said. “I was thinking it would become a disaster.”

She felt Jesus saying to her, “This is your way of comforting me. Is that not important?”

“Icons are very important to me,” she said. “I guess they’re important to Him too.”

Katherine Muser’s “Goodnight Kisses”

“Kids naturally recognize the beauty of a baby and they just cherish it,” Muser said of her drawing of her and her sister as children.

Brie Shulze’s Annunciation

“There is so much to unpack in the Annunciation,” Schulze said. “I wanted to unpack that life-giving yes that our Blessed Mother made on behalf of all humanity.”

“Her yes to uncertainty, to sacrifice, to isolation, to public shame and to every other suffering that she would endure is what allowed us to inherit eternal life.”

“Her fiat was not made in full knowledge of all that would happen, but in love and total surrender to the will of God.”

All photos by Makena Clawson