51ZXZVYYnWL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Dear friends of ours for Christmas gave my husband (although I’ve been a faithful reader of it, too) the wonderful read Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael P. Foley. It embodies the spirit (and spirits!) of Catholicism perfectly.

Laid out by calendar year, the book marches through the various feast days in the Church’s calendar, pairing a cocktail with each saint. My husband and I recently had a Monk (two parts gin to one part lemon juice and Benedictine) in honor of St. Maurus, the first disciple of St. Benedict who was once ordered by the famous monk to run out over a lake to save a drowning brother.

Foley writes about the saints in a modern, colorful, and engaging way, sharing stories that I’d often never heard of before. He also writes with great knowledge on the history of the many types of spirits whose stories are intertwined with those of the saints.

This fun, smart, beautiful book embodies the richness of our faith, captured by the author in the foreword:

 And I am in accord with G. K. Chesterton, who is said to have converted to Catholicism because it was the only religion that could reconcile the pipe, the pint, and the Cross.

We could sit on the back porch all night and discuss why this is so over a good bottle of scotch or bourbon, but at the risk of cutting the conversation short let me suggest that the ultimate cause is both a gratitude for the goodness of creation as well as an understanding of that creation as “sacramental.” To the Catholic mind, not only can earthly, physical things be turned by the agency of God into channels of divine, invisible grace (as we see with the seven sacraments), but all creation is sacramentum, or “divine sign,” pointing to the luminous goodness of God. Like William Blake, Catholics see a world in a grain of sand and a Heaven in a wildflower. And they even get a foretaste of that Heaven in the simple pleasures of table and tavern (ix).

God in His great goodness made a glorious world for us to enjoy and an abundance of heavenly friends to show us how. Michael Foley’s book will give you a greater appreciation of both kinds of spirits that can help us see His great love for us.

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Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer