Saturday, February 27, 2021

St. Gabriel Possenti: Patron Saint of Handgunners

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the tradition associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense. Sadly, the founder of the group died in 2017 and it appears the organization is no longer active.

A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range. If that's not possible, maybe I'll buy some extra ammo instead, if I can find any for sale at a reasonable price.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Two Warm Days, and Cigars

After several weeks of cold weather and seemingly endless winter precipitation, we were treated to a couple days of warmer weather this week. Of course, I took advantage of that tease of spring to sit outside on the deck.

On the first day of the brief warming trend, I rushed outside right after dinner with a bottle of Elijah Craig bourbon and a CAO Pilón to go along with the libation. The sun would soon be setting and I did resort to turning on the heater at my feet. Nonetheless the hour long smoke and sips of bourbon provided a good digestive. The cigar's creamy cocoa and nutty notes were a good match for the vanilla and oak in the mild-mannered bourbon.

The next day proved to be even warmer, creeping up over 60° for a short time. I was even able to finally get the thick layer of ice off the sidewalk to the front porch. To my delight all my Zoom meetings for the day ended by mid-afternoon. My thoughtful wife prepared our dinner early so there'd be more time afterwards to enjoy the outside before the sun set and temperature ultimately dropped.

The selection for this evening was Liga Undercrown Maduro paired with Starr Hill Little Red Roostarr Stout. The Undercrown is a favorite stick, and I've enjoyed many of them in the Robusto vitola. This time I opted for the larger Toro. The familiar espresso, cocoa sweetness, and dark fruit flavors were present, although I felt they were less pronounced than in the smaller stick. The sweet chocolate and vanilla of the stout paired well.

By the time the two hour smoke ended, the sun had set. I resorted to adding a sweatshirt, but never needed the heater. I must say, it's been a while since I enjoyed the deck without supplemental heat. The spring preview was short-lived, but was a welcome reminder that warmer weather is just a few weeks away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A Lenten Sacrifice

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers.

The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening - he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all..."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well... It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Powstanie Broadleaf Short Perfecto

We had a brief respite from the cold mid-week when the temperatures hit 50° in the afternoon. I decided enjoy an after dinner smoke on the deck. Even though the temperature dropped while I smoked, it was still an unseasonably temperate setting, though I did eventually fire up the heater.

A few weeks ago I picked up a few Powstanie Broadleaf Short Perfectos. The Powstanie Broadleaf is one of my favorite smokes, but I had never tried the Short Perfecto vitola. The small 5x50 perfecto seemed perfect for a quick smoke. 

Like the other size offerings, the blend features a Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over an Indonesian binder. Estelí Ligero, Jalapa and Pueblo Nuevo tobaccos are the filler tobaccos. It's a full-flavored smoke, with creamy chocolate, wood and cedar spice treating the palate.

I got an hour's worth of enjoyment out of this little stick. That was just long enough to coincide with the sun setting and the evening chill setting in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Saint José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed by Mexican troops for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory." The young martyr was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005, and later canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

The Saint's story is one with which few American Catholics are familiar. That is a tragedy in its own right. Though they might not know the Saint's story, many Americans are no doubt familiar with his face. The picture, shown below, of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that is often seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for religious freedom is looking down at them while they eat.

After José was captured by government forces fighting the Cristero, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholic countrymen, yet he never wavered in his faithful resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood as a final act of defiance.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong when our own persecution comes.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Snow, Sun, a Cigar, and a Beer

The predicted Sunday winter storm was, fortunately, a bust. It snowed quite heavily for a few hours in the morning, but then the sun came out, the temperature approached 40° and the woods soon sounded like a summer rainfall as the snow melted from the trees. It was still cool, but there was little wind in the air. I took advantage of the sun to enjoy some deck time.

The beer selection was Starr Hill 2 Tone Vanilla Porter. This beer pours nearly black in color with a thin mocha head. The aroma is sweet vanilla and caramel. Sipping gives flavors of espresso, cocoa, and a very mild vanilla sweetness. The mouthfeel is light with a lingering hint of bitterness.

Not knowing how long I had before the sun went behind the clouds, I grabbed a moderately small stick. The Southern Draw Quickdraw Pennsylvania Broadleaf is a small 5" x 46 Corona Gorda but it still gave a 75 minute smoke — lasting much longer than the 12 ounces of beer.

The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper hides a Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The predominate flavors are cocoa and coffee, with a touch spice. The cigar's flavor melded well with that of the porter. 

The initial weather prognostications indicating the day would be spent indoors were thankfully inaccurate, allowing for a surprisingly pleasant and restful Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Another Saturday "At The Farm"

No, you aren't experiencing déjà vu. The photo below is a common view of late. Saturday afternoon I stood on my screen porch contemplating a cigar. The temperature was not that bad, and I have heaters. But, oh, the wind. Even with the heaters, the breeze blowing through the screens disperses the heat too quickly. So I headed over to the Olde Towne Tobacconist lounge at 1781 Brewing. There I ensconced in the enclosed patio to enjoy a quick smoke and a pint or two.

I grabbed a Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles to go with my mug of Washington's Hare Porter. The porter is a "go to" beer for me, especially when I'm smoking. The mildly sweet caramel and bitter toffee notes pair well with most cigars, and the 5.5% ABV makes a reasonable afternoon libation. The porter had been out out of the rotation for a few months and I've been enjoying regularly since its return.

The small 5" x 50 cigar features a slick Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. With the Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos, the smoke produces rich cocoa and pepper notes. The creamy, slightly peppery finish lingers on the palate until the next draw, or sip of beer.

I enjoyed a couple hours of conversation with other patrons. The heat from the wood stove inside and the propane heaters outside moderated the temps inside the plastic patio enclosure and kept the wind at bay. With the prediction of another winter storm coming our way on Sunday, the brief diversion was a welcome respite.

Monday, February 1, 2021

St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. In a quote traditionally attributed to St. Brigid, she prays...
"I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."
Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. It was during our trip to Ireland a few years ago that I came to realize just how popular she is in that country, second only to St. Patrick it seems. Her legendary association with miracles involving beer often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion.

Beyond her prayer for a "great lake of beer" this revered Saint has other interesting connections with beer. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.

St. Brigid Statue, Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

St. Brigid, ora pro nobis! And cheers!