Monday, June 18, 2012

Of Saints, Skeletons and Saison (Part 2)

by Ryan

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; 
he who finds one finds a treasure."
– Sirach 6:14

With all of this talk about saints from centuries long gone, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Catholic Church puts too much focus on these outstanding individuals. However, as my friend Marie points out, the Church is often a “both/and” institution. As in, we focus on saints of the past and of the present. While the saints of the past no longer need our aid in reaching their heavenly reward, the saints of the present need all the help they can get.

Without getting into a long discussion about the sacraments of the Church and their role in maintaining the saints of the present, one might wonder how a saint can be recognized. The book of Galatians offers this handy checklist:

“...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
Reading that list of wonderful qualities makes me shudder! I feel that I fall horribly short of those aspirations most of the time. That’s why I find immense value in friends like John. I met John and his wife Drina in our parish choir, and we visit each other when we have the opportunity. 

After listening to the ninety-minute presentation on SS. Magnus and Bonosa, John and I went over to Sergio’s World Beers, a beer lover’s paradise located a short distance from the popular Frankfort Ave. area. I love visiting Sergio’s because it has such a wonderful beer selection, but is also usually quiet enough to have conversations and relax. 

John, though not a beer enthusiast at heart (he prefers bourbon, I believe) seems to always have an open ear as I endlessly rattle off beer stories, facts, style, etc. One of our most recent conversations involved saison, a beer style originally consumed by Belgium’s seasonal farmers. These beers range from a pale gold to amber in color (usually the former), though darker examples can be found; Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire, for instance, pours a deep, rich brown.

Fantome's Dark White saison with stoneware vessels 

The saison we shared was from the small Fantome brewery in Soy, Belgium, and also represents a departure from typical saison with its darker amber color. This saison, called Dark White, struck with a damp, musty, herbal aroma with some notes of red grape and apple. The initial pouring of this beer filled our glasses with a huge, billowy head that never really went away. The flavor was quite similar to the aroma — lots of damp, musty character, but the fruit shined through a bit more, making the overall flavor much more refreshing than the initial aroma; the finish was dry and lingering. Dark White, in the manner of other great Belgian beers, had an effervescent mouth feel that seems to dissolve on the palate.

Before my rather extended passage on beer, I was talking about John and Drina, and their “immense value.” The Catholic Church actually considers the saints — past and present — as part of the “Church Treasury.” We usually associate the word "treasury" with money, but the end goal of the Church is for those who were born of God to return to Him; to this end, the value of the saints on earth as extensions of God’s virtues cannot be measured. I consider John, Drina, and many other friends and family as part of this treasury. I hope you find yourself just as fortunate.

John (hopefully) enjoying his glass of Dark White.

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