Last week, I enjoyed my first-ever wine tasting tour in the Harbor Country of Michigan along with my wife and our kids and their significant others. It was a wonderful experience as we enjoyed the variety of flavors from a number of wineries in the New Buffalo area.
The experience led me to reflect on the role of wine in our spiritual journey. It is no accident that Jesus chose wine as one of the elements to represent his very being and life. Of course, the abuse of wine or any alcohol is a very serious danger in our society and is not to be taken lightly. By the same token, however, Catholics have typically not seen the need for abstaining from the fruit of the vine as long as we practice temperance. We recognize wine’s power to lift spirits and lighten moods and find comparison in that to what the Holy Spirit does to us. Here’s how I describe it in my book, Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ:
Given our basic human desire for intoxication, it should come as no surprise that one of the most famous traditional prayers of the Catholic Church, the Anima Christi, goes like this: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me.” With these words, we pray for the same kind of intoxication—a sober one—that the apostles experienced on the day the church was born.
Somewhere along the way, unfortunately, we lost this robust and ebullient approach to proclaiming the gospel, as if the church had instituted some kind of “prohibition” against the inebriating influence of the Holy Spirit. The goal of this book, Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ, is to send a message, loud and clear, that the time has come for this prohibition to be lifted. The New Evangelization—a renewal and refocusing of the church’s mission in the twenty-first century—is a clarion call for Christians all over the world to drink deeply of the Holy Spirit and begin living a transformed life under the influence of Jesus Christ.
Let us drink deeply of the Holy Spirit!