Notebook

Recognisable Joy

In his thoughtful, exquisitely illustrated account of a visit to Mount Saint Bernard, Mark Dredge says of one of my brothers, ‘It takes me a couple of days to sense that his calmness comes with something deeper, a profound contentment and happiness which I come to recognise as joy.’ What a wonderful testimony is joy! And how marvellous that a monastic brewery provides an occasion to share it! I still believe beer-making can reveal something of the mystery of the Church. By being refined to manifest their choicest qualities; by being brought together in a favourable environment; by mingling their properties and so revealing fresh potential; by being carefully stored and matured, the humble malt, hops, yeast, and water are spirit-filled and bring forth something new, something nurturing and good, that brings joy to those who share it. Considered in this perspective, the brewery provides us with a parable for monastic life, with the Lord as virtuoso brewmaster. The Scriptures favour wine as an image of the Gospel—but that is culturally conditioned; beer, it seems to me, is a much-neglected theological symbol. – Temperance in enjoyment, needless to say, is taken for granted!