The liturgical year guided and nourished and shaped Catholics for centuries. It does so far less now, since it is much diminished after the “reforms” that hacked away at the calendar. However, once upon a time people not only followed the turning of the earth and the wheeling of the stars and the rising and setting of the sun and moon with serious attention for the sake of planting and harvesting – a life and death matter – but they also marked the passage of time with sacramentals and blessings and other customs.
Ttoday is the Feast of St. John the Evangelist and Apostle. In the older, traditional Rituale Romanum, which priests of the Latin Church may use no matter what anyone says, there is a blessing today for wine.
Why wine? There is a story about St. John that an attempt was made to kill him with poisoned wine. John was protected, however. He blessed the cup and the poison extracted itself from the wine and crawled out of the chalice in the form of a snake. This is why St. John the Evangelist is often depicted not just with an eagle, his gospel symbol, but also a cup with a little snake crawling out of it.
I have in the past had some wine that was so bad that I was sure someone was trying to kill me. I wish I had had the presence of mind to bless it especially just to see what would happen.
Here is the translation of the beautiful Latin blessing for wine. Remember, Fathers, according to the edition of the Rituale Romanum, blessings are to be done in Latin or they are not valid.
Frankly, I am not sure how that works, but… just do them in Latin.
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.
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.
4. ANOTHER FORM FOR BLESSING WINE on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
At the end of Mass, after the last Gospel, the following is said:
(for this psalm see Rite for Baptism of Children)
After the psalm: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.
P: Save your servants.
All: Who trust in you, my God.
P: Lord, send them aid from your holy place.
All: And watch over them from Sion.
P: Let the enemy have no power over them.
All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm them.
P: Then if they drink anything deadly.
All: It will not harm them.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, who willed that your Son, co-eternal and consubstantial [apparently “consubstantial” wasn’t tooo haaard back then!] with you, come down from heaven and in the fulness of time be made flesh for a time of the blessed Virgin Mary, in order to seek the lost and wayward sheep and carry it on His shoulders to the sheepfold, and to heal the man fallen among robbers of his wounds by pouring in oil and wine; may you bless + and sanctify + this wine which you have vintaged for man’s drink. Let all who taste or drink of it on this holy feast day have health of body and soul; by your grace let it be a solace to the man who is on a journey and bring him safely to his destination; through Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, who spoke of yourself as the true vine and the apostles as the branches, and who willed to plant a chosen vineyard of all who love you, bless + this wine and empower it with your blessing; so that all who taste or drink of it may, through the intercession of your beloved disciple John, apostle and evangelist, be spared every deadly and poisonous affliction and enjoy bodily and spiritual well-being. We ask this of you who live and reign forever and ever.
God, who in creating the world brought forth for mankind bread as food and wine as drink, bread to nourish the body and wine to cheer the heart; who conferred on blessed John, your beloved disciple, such great favor that not only did he himself escape the poisoned potion, but could restore life by your power to others who were dead from poison; grant to all who drink this wine spiritual gladness and everlasting life; through Christ our Lord.
It is sprinkled with holy water.