From the Pastor: Wine With Which To Please God
A while ago, before covid put an end to all such pleasures, I was enjoying an afternoon bar-b-que with some parishioners. Along with the wonderful company and food there were also some nice bottles of wine. The hosts were not only gracious to share the libations but also the stories behind several of the bottles, why they were chosen, what to expect them to pair with, and other such delightful information. We enjoyed the day and I went home fat and happy. A month or so afterward, a bottle of wine showed up with a note that said something along the lines of “I noticed that you really enjoyed this wine at the get-together. I thought it would be a nice wine to use for Mass if that is permissible!” Well, it is permissible. The requirements for the wine used at Mass are pretty simple. The wine must be made out of grapes and it must not be adulterated in any substantial way. Things that adulterate the wine in non-substantial ways include such additives as sulfites, which are naturally occurring but more are often added to fight bacterial contamination and oxidation. The use of sulfites is fine even in “Mass wine.” The grape wine may be either red or white. Color does not change the essence of the wine. The wine may be either sweet or dry, depending on the grape varietal used and the way it was fermented and processed. The wine may be purchased at the religious supply house and have a label that says “Altar Wine” (which is purely a marketing ploy and may actually be deceptive, as these companies supply goods not only for Catholics but also for other religious groups, some of which may not have the same requirements for their “service.” Think “grape juice” being acceptable to some religions.) Or the wine may be purchased at the local ABC or grocery store. It may come in a bottle, in a can, or in a box. As long as it is made of grapes and not substantially changed (for instance by adding distilled alcohol to it) it can be validly used at Mass.
So now I had a bottle of wine which this man already knew that I enjoy and he was very happy to allow me to use it at Mass, both for me to enjoy and, in a manner of thinking, for God to enjoy as well, instead of just using “whatever” wine for the Holy Sacrifice. Of course, sipping a glass of wine at a gathering is quite a bit different than consuming the Precious Blood at Mass! For instance, before almost every Mass I have either recently brushed my teeth or used mouthwash. The flavor of the wine does not come through exactly the same way when paired with Scope instead of cheese and crackers! But I liked the idea of using a “better” wine at the most Holy Sacrifice. Another man did, too, as he heard of what was done, and he, too, brought in a wine he favored and asked that it be used at Mass. Since then I have occasionally thought about sharing this story with you but never actually got around to doing it. Until now.
Do you have a favorite wine? Would it please you and do you think Our Lord would be pleased if you would have it used for the consecration? I am going to put this out there and see what transpires. We use about a bottle of wine a week (my sacristans will tell me later how much off my guestimate is!) so the wine expense is not a major line item in our budget. I tell you that so that you will know that I am not just trying to save a dollar! I could go to Trader Joe’s and get some Two Buck Chuck if saving money was the overriding factor. Instead, I want to offer you the opportunity to bring in a bottle of your favorite wine (pure grape wine only, please!) to be used at Mass. If you tape your name onto the bottle in a way that it will stay, I will be sure to read it at some point during the week and remember to pray for you during the Mass! I don’t know how to practically let people know whose bottle is being used at any one time, but at least God will know. Please don’t bring in more than one bottle, though, because if we don’t have room to store the bottles or if we get so many coming in that we cannot possibly use them within a reasonable amount of time, I will be forced to use them for our potlucks or other dinners, which will pretty much defeat the purpose of bringing them for use at the Mass. If you want to share a short story about why that particular bottle of wine is your offering to Our Lord (“It was the wine my bride and I drank as our first toast 50 years ago—different vintage, of course—and we pour a glass of it every anniversary.”) feel free to include that type of information as well.
I will end this with a simple reminder that Monday is Memorial Day. It would be quite appropriate if you offered both a toast and a prayer for those who gave their lives defending our country. God knows who His “faithful departed” are. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace, Amen. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka