Now that Advent is upon us, many minds turn to the thought of Christmas shopping. The Anchoress has a fairly complete catalog of gift ideas, most made by professed Catholic brothers and sisters. Her “Let’s Go Christmas Shopping” has some great starting ideas. Nicoletta’s column in today’s bulletin has a few more ideas, mostly books, for Christmas gifts. Your humble author can only hope to mention a few more Catholic items that the devout shopper could consider. All my suggestions are made by professed religious.
One easy to find monastery product is made by Belgian Trappists: Chimay Beer, the prototype of all Belgian ales. The good monks of Scourmont Abbey in the country of the Walloons in Belgium have been producing their powerful ales since 1862. Chimay comes in four different alcohol percentages, ranging from 4.8% to a kicking 9.0%. Like all Belgian beers, the ingredients are water, malted barley, wheat starch, sugar, hop extract and yeast.
In addition to the four ales produced at Scourmont, the good brothers also produce some excellent cheeses. The thrifty monks feed their dairy cows with the leftover solids from the brewing process.
The TRAPPISTS are a reform order of the Benedictines, the order founded by Saint Benedict. Technically, they are Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Ordo Cisterciensium Strictioris Observantiae – OCSO), taking their name from the main monastery at La Trappe in Normandy. This reform of the Cistercian reform was lead in the mid-1660’s by Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé. Following St. Benedict’s dictum of “ore et labore” or “prayer and work”, Trappists around the world support themselves by making highly regarded preserves and fruitcakes.
Chartreuse is several types of good Catholic liqueurs made by Carthusians, an order that has been described as “a community of hermits.” Green Chartreuse is made of a top secret formula of 130 herbs and spices. It is about 70% alcohol. A manuscript with the original recipe for an “Elixer of Long Life” was presented to the Carthusians in 1605, but it took about a century to perfect the recipe. Yellow Chartreuse is only 40% alcohol, and has a much simpler recipe. (Sad to say, Benedictine is no longer made by monks.)
The CARTHUSIANS were founded by St. Bruno in 1084. They follow his Statutes instead of the Rule of St. Benedict, and spend most of their lives under a strict discipline of silence. La Grande Chartreuse, the mother-house of the Carthusian Order, sits fourteen miles north of Grenoble at an elevation of 4268 feet in a high valley of the Alps. This same site and these same monks were the subject of the 2007 movie “Into Great Silence“. Their web page is here: http://www.chartreux.org
Another group of religious with a easy-to-fine product are Clarisa’s Cookies. These are made locally by the Northern Colorado branch of the Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters. Cookies can be purchased year-round from Our Lady of Light Monastery at 3325 Pecos St. here in Denver. Each $12.00 box contains 1.5 pounds of these delicious butter cookies in four flavors: cinnamon, coconut, orange and vanilla. For details on how you can get yours, see:http://www.capuchins.org/cookies/index.html
I’ll be happy to volunteer to dispose of any unused cookies that may be left at your house.
The CAPUCHIN POOR CLARES are a reform of the religious Order founded by Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. In 1538, Mother Maria Lorenza Longo established the order in 1538. Capuchin Poor Clares are contemplative sisters living in community whose lives revolve around prayer, manual work, study and silence.
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