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: Past 25 years remembered, next 25 anticipated at More Than You Realize conference

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“Be not afraid!”

This was the rallying cry at the Aug. 11 More Than You Realize conference, echoing the very same call St. John Paul II gave exactly 25 years ago when he visited Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.

Over 5,000 faithful from across the Archdiocese of Denver filled the seats of the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland at what was the largest Catholic gathering in Colorado since WYD ’93. The all-day conference was presented in both English and Spanish tracks, featured a dynamic lineup of renowned Catholic speakers, and culminated in a powerful commissioning Mass.

The name More Than You Realize and consequently, the logo resembling an eyechart, stems from the idea that almost everything may appear a certain way at surface level, but upon closer inspection, it can be more than one realizes and seen in a different light. This is especially true when it comes to the Catholic Church.

Over 5,000 gathered at the Budweiser Events Center Aug. 11 for the More Than You Realize conference, which celebrated the last 25 years since World Youth Day in Denver and looked to the next 25. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

In planning for nearly two years, pastors from each parish of the archdiocese hand-picked those parishioners and members of their community who they wished to attend the conference, which revolved around the idea of discipleship. Through engaging videos and talks given by speakers such as Chris Stefanick, Luis Soto and Dr. Edward Sri, attendees were invited to join a new movement of discipleship within the archdiocese, echoing the one sparked 25 years ago at World Youth Day.

“[I] had a great rejuvenating time at the More Than You Realize Conference,” said Alex Martinez, a parishioner at St. Pius X Parish. “I am excited to see the MTYR movement take shape.”

Brenda Garrett, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception said, “It was an amazing event, so blessed my pastor Father Ron from the Cathedral Basilica sent me. I am so proud to be part of this movement.”

The key to evangelization

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford spoke before Mass began about the impact of World Youth Day 1993 and the challenges the Church faces today.

“What does the summer of ’93 teach us about our present circumstances in 2018?” the cardinal asked. “The Holy Spirit was sent out in a special mission to our Church in 1993. The power of that sending was unexpected and disorienting to me as archbishop and to most others.”

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford speaks during the More Than You Realize conference. (Photo by Jason Weinrich)

But despite urban violence, threats of boycotts, organized protests and other issues prior to World Youth Day 1993, “a fundamental change took place in the Church of Denver,” said Cardinal Stafford, “but not only here — among the young people who came throughout the world, [and] even the Holy Father.

“Above all, our Church was transformed,” he said.

Cardinal Stafford said that to evangelize those who don’t know the Gospel, we first need “…a deep awareness of the delight of the Father taking in each of us as baptized men and women,” he said.

“I would urge you to think deeply and to pray deeply about realizing how delighted God is in you — each of you — because you are received by the Father as being [part of] the body of his Son, who is beloved.”

‘Jesus is much more than you realize’

In his homily given in both English and Spanish, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila also touched on what World Youth Day 1993 means for us today.

“The world likes to tell us many things about ourselves,” he said, “and not many of them today are good or uplifting. Just look at the distorted image of beauty that is prevalent today, let alone the distortions of what it means to be a human person…

“The devil is certainly having a field day in a world that has abandoned God, and even in some members of the Church who have a weak faith in Jesus,” he said.

But despite similar issues taking place in 1993, the pope brought to Denver a message of hope.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrates the commissioning Mass that closed out the conference. (photo by Andrew Wright)

“When St. John Paul II spoke to the youth gathered for the prayer vigil on Saturday night at Cherry Creek State Park, he reminded them that God and a much bigger role for them to play in history,” said Archbishop Aquila.

That message is just as important today, within an archdiocese and Church that stand at a crossroads, the archbishop said.

“We have an opportunity to make a major impact for Jesus Christ, even as the surrounding culture is becoming less Christian.”

The pope opened the doors for those who attended to become greater disciples of Christ — not just directly after World Youth Day, but forever.

“St. John Paul II believed in retrospect that a revolution had taken place in Denver,” said the archbishop. “We, today, are the inheritors of this spiritual revolution, and we must not be afraid to put out into the deep to let our nets down for a catch.

“Jesus is much more than you realize. The Church is more than you realize. And your role in the plan of God is much more than you realize or [can] even imagine,” he said.

“And so, I beg you as your shepherd today to open your hearts to Jesus and speak heart-to-heart with him who loves you most.”

Aaron Lambert, Moira Cullings and Vladimir Mauricio-Perez contributed to this report.