My husband and I just returned from a 10-day vacation in the Cumberland region of Tennessee that included a wine tasting at a local winery. While we enjoyed all of the wines, there were some that appealed to us more than others.
This Sunday’s readings are parables in which we can see ourselves depicted as the vines of God’s vineyard. We have been chosen as select vines that are intended to produce good grapes. Yet the parable cites that vines can become corrupt and yield a bad harvest. The relationship between the wine of good grapes and wine that comes from less than stellar grapes should remind us of the consequences of our decisions as we choose mediocrity over excellence or complacence over righteousness. Do our actions yield the pure juice of the grape or have we adulterated it with our bad choices? Looking at the wine in carafe as the gifts are prepared, or as the chalice is offered to us, we should remember this parable.
As I was pondering these readings, it got me to thinking about the cup of wine consumed as the blood of Christ at Mass. Where does the altar wine come from? Are there vineyards just dedicated to altar wine? What are the requirements for such wine? The Code of Canon Law (n..924) states that wine for the Eucharist “must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.” The law goes on to say that it is not allowed to use wine that is not authentic. Therefore, altar wine should be secured from a vendor that is respectful of the necessity for these requirements.
It makes sense then that the choice of wines for Mass be made with the utmost care for authenticity and purity. If we truly advocate the Real Presence, what does it say if the wine that is consecrated into the blood of Christ at the liturgy is of inferior quality?
Now, back to the origination of those wines. You will be surprised to know that many come from Napa Valley by such manufacturers as Christian Brothers, Mont La Salle and Cribari Vineyards. They all make the wine in accordance with canon law and are approved for sacramental use by the church. So the next time you partake of the blood of Christ, think about the significance of that pure wine and its importance to our faith.
Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.