St. John the Apostle is the disciple “whom Jesus loved”. It is an old custom to drink of “St. John’s Love” by blessing wine on his feast day, December 27th. According to legend St. John drank a glass of poisoned wine without suffering harm because he had blessed it before he drank. The wine is also a symbol of the great love of Christ that filled St. John’s heart with loyalty, courage, and enthusiasm for his Master; he alone of all the apostles was privileged to rest his head upon the breast of Christ and hear the beat of His heart. As we drink this wine, may we too open our ears to the heart of the Logos, the beat of which resounds throughout the universe.
St. John’s wine, blessed by a priest or sprinkled with holy water by the father of the family, is served with the main meal. In Europe, even the children receive a little sip of it after the main course of the dinner. The wine is then poured into glasses and passed around to the family and guests. As each glass is given, the leader says: “I drink thee the love of St. John.”
The response to this is: “I thank thee for the love of St. John.”
To begin the wine blessing, start by reciting Psalm 22 (23), followed by the Our Father and versicles.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Our Father, etc.
℣. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
℟. Who hath made heaven and earth.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.
Then the leader says the following prayer over the wine:
Let us pray. Graciously bless and sanctify, O Lord God, this wine with Thy right hand, and grant that by the merits of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in Thee and partake of this wine may be blessed and protected. And as Saint John drank poison from a cup and was unharmed, so may all those who this day drink of this cup in his honor be preserved from all poisoning and from any harms whatever, and as they offer themselves to Thee in body and soul, may they be free from every fault. Through Christ our Lord. ℟. Amen.
Then the leader says:
Bless +, O Lord, this drink which Thou hast created, that it may be a salutary remedy for all who partake of it, and grant that all who taste of it may, by invoking Thy holy name, receive health of both body and soul. Through Christ our Lord. ℟. Amen