St. Robert Bellarmine QuoteThis is a Lenten mission the good Cardinal Bellarmine gave while teaching. Strong words. Take a minute, sit back and enjoy.
Brethren, there is one sin at which this Lenten mission aims; the worship of the false god, Bacchus, the Greek god of wine and intoxication. Some say it is a modern vice, but no, it dates back to the Deluge. Bacchus was worshiped in the Egypt of the Ptolemies, and in ancient Greece and Rome nations, mind you, now extinct or fallen under Turkish sway. The Roman Senate once forbade this worship an eloquent contrast to Christian governments that foster it and license it.
It is safe to say, in fact, that Bacchus gets more votaries from Christians than from Pagans. They point to us with scorn. Every Christian drunkard delivers to the Gentiles once again the Son of man to be mocked and scourged and spit upon. Ah! when we think how often and how many celebrate the feast of Bacchus a double feast of the first class, with a vigil and an octave have we not good cause to fear the history of Jerusalem's destruction will repeat itself?
The drunkard is guiltier than the Saviour's crucifiers, for they were irresponsible fanatics, but he deliberately blinds his reason face to face with sin "a double crime," says Aristotle, "deserving double punishment," a crime once under ban of excommunication in the Church. Drunkenness is such folly that, unlike most sins, its very motive is irrational. Every sense will crave its proper object, but that object in excess destroys the sense. The eye craves light, but not the direct rays of the sun; the ear craves sound, but not the shock of an explosion; and an overindulged taste forfeits its power of enjoyment. I will not deny, a little wine may please and benefit betimes, but only as St. Paul prescribes: " a little and that, too, only when necessary for the stomach's sake and one's manifold infirmities." There is danger always, lest, from small libations, one become a too fervent worshipper of Bacchus. "Their God," says St. Paul, "is their belly."
A certain fish discovered by Aristotle has its heart in its stomach, and is called the seadonkey. The drunkard shares the characteristics of that lowly animal; his heart is where his treasure is: he is lazy, stupid, lustful, and open only to one argument a club. He lacks the higher qualities of the brute a healthy appetite for water and the power of judging when he has enough. Talk to him of God and his soul of the Mission or of Lent, and notwithstanding Nature has given Him generous ears, he cannot hear, he cannot understand. But talk to him of banquet halls and liberal potations, and lo, with ears erect, he is eager to begin. The Holy Ghost and Christ, the Doctors of his soul, denounce the drug as deadly, and though the bottle bear the death's head label, he will drink it, come what may.
Our life is warfare, and, says St. Paul, "whoever strives for the mastery, refrains him from all such noxious things, that weaken us or stupefy." Our adversary, the devil, knows no rest and it behooves us, lest we be surprised, to be sober and to watch. Drunkenness led to Noah's shame and his curses on his family; drunkenness caused Lot's crime and Samson's downfall; it led the Israelites to adore the golden calf, and through it Holofernes lost his head. " Drunkenness" says St. Basil, " is the ruiner of reason, the waster of our body's strength, it is premature old age and in a little while it is death."
Saint Robert Bellarmine Quote Calling Drunkards To Repentance