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By Joseph Pearce, Crisis Magazine, March 17, 2020
Joseph Pearce a senior contributor to Crisis. He is director of book publishing at the Augustine Institute, editor of the St. Austin Review, and series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. An acclaimed biographer and literary scholar, his latest book is Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know (Augustine Institute, 2019).
As I write, there is no customary and comforting glass of bourbon at my side. There’s no refreshing gin and tonic; no hearty glass of craft ale. It is Lent and all such blessings have been set aside. And yet, even in the desert, Holy Mother Church leads us to the occasional oasis, a place to feast in the midst of fasting. One such oasis is the Feast of Saint Patrick, the one day in the year when even a dyed-in-the-wool Englishman can rediscover the closeted Celt lurking deep inside him. In my case, it’s the ghost of my Irish grandmother, a Kavanaugh from Galway, or, at a pinch, it’s my Irish mother-in-law from Tyrone.
It was in this spirit of rekindled wannabe Irishness that I found myself browsing through Drinking with Your Patron Saints by Michael P. Foley (Regnery, 2020), a companion volume to his two previous titles of a similar ilk: Drinking with the Saints and Drinking with Saint Nick. Something of the rambunctious spirit (pun intended!) which fills these pages is evident right at the beginning of Part One when Mr. Foley tells us that some of his suggestions “are to be taken with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.” This is indeed the spirit with which a book of this sort should be both written and read, suggestive of that “boozy halo” with which the killjoy H. G. Wells accused Belloc and Chesterton of surrounding Catholicism. It is the halo of healthy conviviality that surrounds both the spirits in the glass and the spirits of those imbibing them. ….