Blessing of Wine and Spirits in honor of St. John the Evangelist
On Tuesday, December 27th the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, there will be a special blessing of wine and spirits after the 5:15pm Mass at St. Agnes. Please bring your bottles with you to Mass and keep them with you in your pew. We will bless them and then pass through to sprinkle them with holy water.
Wine is blessed on this day because according to tradition, St. John was served poisoned wine but survived because he blessed the wine before he put it to his lips; the poison rose from the chalice in the shape of a serpent. In his happy memory, Catholics bring wine to church, which the priest blesses, turning it into a sacramental called the “Love of St. John.” Catholics use this sacramental wine for special occasions throughout the year and to give to the sick.
The wine is also a symbol of the great love of Christ that filled St. John’s heart with loyalty, courage and enthusiasm for his Master. He alone of all the apostles was not afraid to stay close to Jesus during the Passion and Crucifixion and he was the only Apostle not martyred. At least some of the wine blessed on the feast should be enjoyed on the day of the feast itself. When it is drunk on his Feast Day, we drink it before dinner as a toast to St. John. The Father of the house lifts his glass toward Mother and says, “I drink you the love of St. John.” The Mother replies “I thank you for the Love of St. John” and then turns to the oldest child, lifts his glass, and says, “I drink you the love of St. John…” –and on it goes down the line until each has been toasted. The wine may be drunk as is, out of the bottle, or may be prepared as in this recipe:
St. John’s Love (serves 8)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 (this pretty much evaporates all of the alcohol). Serve hot.
Here’s an English translation of the ritual for blessing the wine, translated from the 1962 Rituale Romanum:
BLESSING OF WINE on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
At the end of the principal Mass on the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, after the last Gospel, the priest, retaining all vestments except the maniple, blesses wine brought by the people. This is done in memory and in honor of St. John, who drank without any ill effects the poisoned wine offered to him by his enemies.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
If it please you, Lord God, bless and consecrate this vessel of wine (or any other beverage) by the power of your right hand; and grant that, through the merits of St. John, apostle and evangelist, all your faithful who drink of it may find it a help and a protection. As the blessed John drank the poisoned potion without any ill effects, so may all who today drink the blessed wine in his honor be delivered from poisoning and similar harmful things. And as they offer themselves body and soul to you, may they obtain pardon of all their sins; through Christ our Lord.
Lord, bless this creature drink, so that it may be a health- giving medicine to all who use it; and grant by your grace that all who taste of it may enjoy bodily and spiritual health in calling on your holy name; through Christ our Lord.
May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come on this wine (or any other beverage) and remain always.
It is sprinkled with holy water. If the blessing is given privately outside of Mass, the priest is vested in surplice and stole and performs the ceremony as given above.