Day 5: Bread, Beer and St. Brigid

“He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened”  Matthew 13:33 also Luke 13:20-31

Today’s blogging challenge is to write about bread and beer.

Both bread and beer are produced with yeast. Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. Yeast grows and on the way it converts its food (in the form of sugar or starch) into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation. This is known as  anaerobic respiration and is also used by other microorganisms such as bacteria. The species of yeast used to make beer and bread is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Two different strains are used, one known as Brewer’s Yeast and the other as Baker’s yeast. Baker’s yeast is also a single-cell microorganism found on and around the human body. Small cells like these, microorganisms, can be found in air, water, on the ground, in the bodies of animals, in plants and plant extracts. You could get a quarter of a million of them on a dot on this screen!

The yeast, in order to produce, works its way through stuff, through its actions on the flour and the dough.So what does the Lord mean when he compares the Kingdom to leaven or yeast? Let’s go back to the image. Bakers know that only just enough yeast is needed. If you put too much it overpowers the flavour of the dough. The yeast almost works by stealth. It leaves its trace within the dough yet also helps the dough increase and develop. It’s like the inner, hidden, yet living and creative action of God ‘s Kingdom, which works within  human hearts, animating them and bringing them to life.

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”  (I Corinthians 5:6), writes St. Paul.  Although, in context, St. Paul is using it with an alternative meaning (what evil old leaven can produce) In the Parable of the Leaven we see the action of the Spirit, within human hearts, acting in such a way to produce the Kingdom of God within us.

Why three measures? According to some Fathers the three measures of flour signify the  three main powers of the human soul: the intelligent, incensive and desiring powers of the soul, or the mind, heart and will, or even the body, soul and spirit of the human person.  Through the Holy Spirit God’s Grace slowly penetrates and sanctifies the spirit, soul, and body of man.

As saint Paul says “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23


What can one say on beer?

If you wanKeo Beert a good Orthodox beer try KEO beer, owned by the Church of Cyprus.

We all know about monasteries in the West brewing beer, and it being a staple, or in Russia it is known as liquid bread.

We cannot leave a discussion of beer without mentioning St. Brigid of Kildare 


St. Brigid of Kildare

The Life of St Brigid the Virgin, written by a Kildare monk, Cogitosus Ua hAedha, around AD650, writes

On another extraordinary occasion, this venerable Brigid was asked by some lepers for beer, but had none. She noticed water that had been prepared for baths. She blessed it, in the goodness of her abiding faith, and transformed it into the best beer, which she drew copiously for the thirsty. It was indeed He Who turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee Who turned water into beer here, through this most blessed woman’s faith.

SAINT BRIGID’S PRAYER

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

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