Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist. There is a lovely tradition on this day, still done in some parts of the world. Wine is traditionally blessed at the end of Holy Mass on St. John’s Day in remembrance of the legend that St. John safely drank poisoned wine offered to him by his enemy after blessing it. Here is the blessing the priest uses:
Let us pray. Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, You willed that Your Son, equal to You in agelessness and substance should descend from heaven and in the fullness of time be born of the most holy Virgin Mary. Thus He could seek the lost and wayward sheep and carry it on His shoulders to the sheepfold, and could cure the man fallen among robbers of his wounds by pouring in oil and wine. Deign now to bless and sanctify this wine which You produced for man’s drink. Whoever drinks of it on this holy feast, grant him life in body and soul. By Your goodness, let it be to him strength to prosper him on the way, that his journey may come to a blessed end. Through the same Christ our Lord.
The blessed wine is taken home and poured into a glass by the father of the family, who drinks and passes it first to the mother, and then around the table to children and guests, in commemoration of the disciple of love. A greeting showing that it is love that binds the family together goes round with the cup:
“Drink to the love of St. John, the Apostle.” “And where love is, there is God,” responds the next member of the family, taking the cup and drinking.