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Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - NSMSSS - 12-01-2020

This is more of an opinion question than a theological one, per se, but I am wondering if I have been infused with too much of a Puritan mindset.

I drink, perhaps two or three drinks per week ordinarily (usually beer but occasionally something else), but as soon as a penitential day hits (e.g. Fridays, Ember Days, weekdays of Advent and Lent, etc.), I usually do not drink.  It's been built into my mind that alcohol consumption is a luxury, though that may be more influence by living in an historically-Protestant country and the exorbitant excise taxes applied to alcohol sales.  It also seems like something "fun" that should be given up once its time for penance (and I may be a rarity in that I drink because I am thirsty and enjoy the taste of beer.  I'm not really looking to feel the affects of alcohol.  In fact, it would be nice sometimes if they weren't there).

Yet there have been those, monks and others, who have fasted upon beer in penitential seasons such as Lent, to say nothing of those who drink as commonly as with most evening meals, not really thinking much of it.  My other traditional Catholic friends outdrink me by quite a bit.  They just don't see alcohol as exciting as I do, I suppose.

I understand how abstinence from alcohol can be a good penance and all that, but I guess I am questioning whether I should be viewing drinking in the way that I am.  I think my attitudes may be hindering the potential benefit I could derive should I be abstaining as a form of penance (it seems as if I am demonizing it somehow).  Also, because abstinence is one of my usual first go-tos for penance, I question whether I am depriving myself of a better action I could give up or do (though what that might be, I'm not sure).

So, how do others here view alcohol consumption?


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Pandora - 12-01-2020

In the “olden days” beer and wine were cleaner than any city water one might have to consume, and I’ve heard it said the alcohol content was less and/or it was cut with water.  Besides fasting, the monks were being very pragmatic about what was and wasn’t safe to consume when the diet is being restricted.

As for Lent, in some cultures it’s traditional to fast from alcohol.  Even though I don’t drink, I always put a bottle or beer or wine in my basket to be blessed on Holy Saturday and I would say most families appear to do the same.  If they actually fasted from it the whole of Lent is another story.

This doesn’t really answer your question, but from what I understand as long as one doesn’t drink to get drunk, drinking in and of itself isn’t sinful.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Credidi Propter - 12-01-2020

The alcohol flows strongly at just about every Catholic event I’ve seen. While alcohol consumption in moderation is ok, what is moderation for some may be a very serious excess for another. Alcoholism is also a significant problem in society. Unfortunately, the Church apparently has no concern for that.

“...alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death’ in the United States, coming after tobacco and unhealthy diets and/or lack of exercise. A person who succumbs to excessive alcohol use loses a potential of 30 years of potential life, and as many as 40 percent of all the hospital beds across the country are used to treat health conditions that develop from alcoholism.”[/font][/size][/color]

“The epidemic is such that as many as 17 percent of men in the general population and 8 percent of women will meet the criteria for alcoholism in their lifetime.”

https://www.alcohol.org/statistics-information/


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - MagisterMusicae - 12-01-2020

Where e'er the Catholic sun doth shine
There's music and laughter and good red wine.
At least, I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Eric F - 12-01-2020

Lately, my Catholic attitude towards alcohol is that gives me too many headaches.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Chadster - 12-01-2020

I abstain from alcohol during lent, and other holy days. But honestly I thoroughly look forward to opening a bottle of wine and enjoying it with my wife.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - MagisterMusicae - 12-01-2020

In my own view, alcohol is a very good thing, but the whole matter turns on the purpose for which it is used.

Alcohol should be use to celebrate, not medicate, or put another way, one should drink with friends because he is happy, not to become happy.

If ever we use alcohol as stress relief, or because we are sad, or such, it's already a kind of abuse, even if it's not seriously sinful. That attitude begins our dependence, and can easily lead to alcoholism.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Ptochos - 12-01-2020

(12-01-2020, 05:26 PM)NSMSSS Wrote:  I think my attitudes may be hindering the potential benefit I could derive should I be abstaining as a form of penance (it seems as if I am demonizing it somehow).  Also, because abstinence is one of my usual first go-tos for penance, I question whether I am depriving myself of a better action I could give up or do (though what that might be, I'm not sure).

So, how do others here view alcohol consumption?
I thought the idea of penance and abstinence was to give up something lawful in order to mortify the flesh.This doesn't demonize that thing but rather strengthens our self control.
I'd think about something you perhaps enjoy more than drinking and give that up.
Video games. Tv. Caffeine. Dessert. Salt. Driving when it's not a necessity. Sleeping in on your day off. It's all about finding what really helps you most.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - LionHippo - 12-01-2020

I rarely drink anything, but when I do, it's more so for celebration or as a treat. I will have a glass of wine or two at major holiday dinners, perhaps a beer or two at a summer barbecue, etc. I have a rather large lawn to cut with a push-mower, so my "halfway done" drink is a beer. However, alcohol as a whole is an infrequent beverage for me.

That being said, I still don't think it's indulgent to have one drink per day. Some folks just see it as their treat after a long day of work.

As Magister said, drinking to get drunk is sinful. Also, being unable to unwind or have fun unless one is drinking also points to an unhealthy dependency.


RE: Catholic Attitudes Towards Alcohol - Pandora - 12-01-2020

(12-01-2020, 09:33 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: In my own view, alcohol is a very good thing, but the whole matter turns on the purpose for which it is used.

Alcohol should be use to celebrate, not medicate, or put another way, one should drink with friends because he is happy, not to become happy.

If ever we use alcohol as stress relief, or because we are sad, or such, it's already a kind of abuse, even if it's not seriously sinful. That attitude begins our dependence, and can easily lead to alcoholism.

Agree violently, and additionally there are health benefits when alcohol is consumed in moderation, specifically to the risk of heart disease and possibly even strokes and diabetes.  I believe that pertains specifically to red wine, though.


I'm surprised you didn't bring up the wine consecrated during the Mass... too easy?