minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Archive for the month “January, 2013”


trappist-introLast week I bottled my first batch of beer since our move to North Carolina. It’s been nine months since my last brewing and while I was a little nervous about forgetting something important; the whole process went very smooth. It was a little awkward working in a new kitchen but apart from that it was certainly good to be back at it.

The choice for my first beer in our new home was a classic Belgian Trippel, which is probably my favourite beer, (though sometimes it’s hard to really have a favourite…..). After doing a quick internet search for a local brewing supply store and trying to decide which one of the dozens of recipes they had kits for, I finally made my choice. This store actually had about 3 different recipes for a Belgian Trippel, so naturally I chose the biggest one. Yay!

The Belgian Trippel is a beer that has some history. Brewed by monks over the centuries, several styles of beer developed. The trippel/tripel is probably an older beer but it’s name dates to the 1930’s. Along with Dubbels and other Abbey style ales, the trippel has found a following in recent years outside of the Abbeys as home and micro breweries began to venture into the making of the great variety of beer styles. The trippel is so named because it has about three times the amount of malts which in turn gets converted into a beer that is about three times stronger than your average beer. The flavor can range from a spicy clove to a fruity, almost banana like, taste and the fragrance follows suit. I can still remember the first time I was exposed to this wonderful brew. It was a shock to the senses. I had never had such a beer with so much flavor and I honestly had to ask if this was really even a beer. Anyway this opened the door for my own adventure into the world of beer and home brewing.

My trippel has been bottled and now I’m just waiting for carbonation… In the meantime I have my pots out and wort boiling as my next beer, a Dark English Ale, is brewing.

Missa – Dominus Vobiscum

300px-Meester_van_Catharina_van_Kleef_-_Getijdenboek_van_de_Meester_van_Catharina_van_Kleef2The second part of the Introductory Rite of the Mass is a greeting/blessing which like the sign of the cross will reappear through the Liturgy. Dominus vobiscum is Latin for “The Lord be with you.”, which is the most simple, and probably the most recognized expression. The response to this is “And with your spirit” or “Et cum spiritu tuo”.

In my youth we used to respond “And also with you” but recent reforms to render the english closer to the latin have been made. I like the new translation, not only because it fits the latin better, but because it sets a better standard. The idea of the spirit of man. When we greet each other we are greeting the deepest part of all of us, not just another body, or another stranger, but a person as God sees them, “a living soul”. During this part of the mass we are greeting the priest or person presiding the service, but later we will greet each other in a similar way. This is the sign of peace and the same terms are used here between family, friends and fellow believers. Ultimately it is a symbol of unity and fellowship among all believers whether clergy or layman, old or young, and friend or stranger.

In the liturgy there are two other greetings which may also be used:

(A)The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.


(B)The grace and peace of God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

To which we also respond with “And with your spirit” or in some cases we can respond to the (B) options with “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Dominus Vobiscum is the (C) response, and what you will see through the rest of the liturgy are similar options for prayers, readings and such. These will be listed in the Missal, which if you are new to the mass may itself be a bit intimidating to get through. But what is nice is that over time, the responses are learned and become an automatic part of our participation. The mass begins to take shape and we can move with it not as spectators but as participants. This function of the Mass, is essential to the religious community. It means we are all part of what is going on, all needed, and all important. We are not a mere audience listening to a man preach or coming for a show, but rather part of a mystical body who play their part to make up the whole church in the collective work of the liturgy.

In my youth, I recall hearing this phrase, or rather an aberration of it in a very interesting place. It was a movie which practically changed the way we look at space. Yes, you guessed it. Star Wars. And while you can probably find hints of just about every culture, religion and politic throughout the series; everything from the Samurai, Mafia, Roman Empire, Pirates and Farmers, it was the phrase “May the Force be with you” that really stuck with just about everyone I knew. I recognized the idea immediately, and not just because the guy saying it was dressed like a monk. I could see it hinting at the “Dominus vobiscum” of the liturgy and in a way making it kind of cool. Like Aslan, Jean Valjean, Neo, and Tom Bombadill; or the many other figures from literature and movies which draw their typology from biblical stories and people, it brought an idea which many would avoid or steer clear of because it was “religious” and placed it in a story, a parable, and suddenly it became a cultural symbol.


Missa – In nomine Patris…..

149955862563850223_xp9wKOSQ_bIn nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. These are the words that accompany the Signum Crucis or Sign of the Cross. It is an action made by the ancient church, and even retained in some of the early protestant sects. You’ve seen it made by catholics, or on tv and in the movies, usually to signify a religious or spiritual moment. The Sign of the Cross is a blessing which is made by tracing a cross with the hand and repeating the Trinitarian Formula. The most notable instance of this is by tracing the cross over the body, starting from the forehead, down to the chest and then to both shoulders. It is with this sign that the Introductory Rites of the mass begin, and throughout the mass the Signum Crucis will reappear.

After the Procession, when the Priest and those accompanying make their way to the Altar, the priest continues to the altar, he genuflects, and then in an acknowledgment of Christ, he will kiss the altar. The kiss is also of ancient origin, a greeting which was not confined to those of the opposite sex. It carried with it not only a sign of affection but was also a symbol of homage, allegiance and submission. Kissing the altar expresses the submission of the priest to Christ because the altar itself is a symbol of Christ.

The priest will then turn to the congregation and greet them with the sign of the cross to which the congregation will respond by making the sign on their own bodies along with the priests blessing and completing it with an “Amen.”

The sign of the cross is an action. Some would call it a dead ritual or even a work of sorts. Something done merely for religion; a reaction, a mechanical response done without meaning. But the truth is that such symbols which are expressed by action and word are a completion of what goes on in ones mind. A sad aspect of modernity, especially in the religions which were born out of the reformation is that such actions were slowly removed, ridiculed and rejected, in light of a more ‘mental’ or ‘assent’ styled faith. The ancient church, in every way has been ‘incarnational’ in it’s mindset. It is a holistic faith where the body, soul and spirit are all at work together, completing the whole man, and completing what is traditionally understood as faith. Understanding what the symbol means, what is meant by the action sets the stage for the mass in the same way that holding hands or giving a hug may begin a date. Some may criticize, giggle, or frown upon such acts of affection but for the couple who are preparing for a special night out, such signs are essential for a romance. A word whose etymology starts in Rome.

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