Friday, December 26, 2008

St. John's Love

On December 27th we celebrate the feast of St. John the Apostle. St. John was one of the sons of Zebedee, or "sons of thunder," and the apostle "whom Jesus loved." We have a extra special devotion to St. John in our home since we celebrate one of our sons "namedays" on this feast!

According to legend, Emperor Domitian served St. John poisoned wine in an attempt to murder him. However, since St. John blessed the wine before drinking it, the poison rose from the glass and slithered away in the shape of a serpent.

In remembrance and honor of St. John, Catholics can bring wine to church to be blessed at the end of Mass. The wine is then turned into a sacramental called the "Love of St. John." This sacramental wine can be used for special occasions throughout the year, or be given to the sick.

Blessing of Wine for the Feast of St. John the Apostle
(Source: Feast Day Cookbook)

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who has made heaven and earth.
Leader: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray. Be so kind as to bless and consecrate with Your right hand, Lord, this cup of wine, and every drink. Grant that by the merits of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in You and drink of this cup may be blessed and protected. Blessed John drank poison from the cup, and was in no way harmed. So, too, may all who this day drink from this cup in honor of Blessed John, by his merits, be freed from every sickness by poisoning and from any harms whatever. And, when they have offered themselves in both soul and body, may they be freed, too, from every fault, through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.
Leader: Bless, Lord, this beverage which You have made. May it be a healthful refreshment to all who drink of it. And grant by the invocation of Your holy name that whoever tastes of it may, by Your generosity receive health of both soul and body, through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen

Often times a special hot mulled wine is made to be served with the main meal. We have made this wine the past couple years and have really enjoyed it:

St. John's Love

1 quart red wine
3 whole cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 two-inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar

Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes (at this point the alcohol will be pretty much evaporated). Serve hot.

If you were unable to have wine blessed at Mass, the father of the family will bless the cup and then sprinkle the wine with holy water.

To begin the toasting, the Father of the house lifts his glass toward the Mother and says, "I drink you the love of St. John." The Mother then replies, "I thank you for the love of St. John." She then turns to the oldest child, lifts her glass and says, "I drink you the love of St. John..." and so on, until everyone has been toasted. Even the children can have a small sip, though I am not going to promise that they will like it!!

*This year I picked up Martenelli's Sparkling Apple-Pomegranate for my kids. I'll still serve it in our wine glasses.

May you all have a very blessed feast of St. John!
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  1. Thanks for sharing that lovely tradition -- I especially enjoy the toast. That face is a keeper!

  2. Dear Jessica,

    Regarding your comment, "Boil for 5 minutes (at this point the alcohol will be pretty much evaporated)", I know most chefs will say this. However, the latest studies available show that alcohol takes much longer to evaporate than we previously thought:

    I found this out the hard way. Last Christmas (more like Boxing Day, really) we gathered with friends and ate a delicious chicken baked in pineapple and white wine. Having been baked from scratch, I assumed that all the alcohol had evaporated after over an hour in the oven.

    Much to my surprise, my epilepsy started to act out only half-way through the meal. I'm one of those few epileptics whom the rule of "1 glass of alcohol sparingly is OK" does not apply. For me, 2 sips and in 15 minutes I'm having the worst hangover of my life. That, and seizure fits.

    So if anyone else is concerned about cooking with alcohol due to health issues, keep an eye out.

    Kindest regards.