I’m sitting here now with Corona. Not the kind that comes from China with need for a mask, but the kind that comes from Mexico with need for a lime. I was simply in the mood. Some days, you know, are like that. (Twenty-first Century technology is great when it does what you want it to do, but sometimes the trouble is getting it to do what you want it to do. Even my laptop, for some unknown reason, decided to shut-down and reboot taking twenty minutes to do so as I had just sat down at my desk. I guess it was tired. Oh, well! Cheers my friend!) I certainly wouldn’t call myself a beer connoisseur, but one of the most interesting beers that I’ve ever had is called Rauchbier (smoked beer). The occasion of my first having it involved a bit of travel and my catching-up with Tom. I’ve known Tom from about the time that he was in the sixth grade. He is a former altar server of mine and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. In college, he spent a year abroad. I caught up with him in Bamberg taking a train up from the Munich area where I was visiting family and friends. Tom gave me a quick little tour of the historic town in Franconia (Bavaria) and then showed me his room. He told me that there was a little Ratskeller that he wanted to visit with me. It was famous for the beer that they brewed there. After freshening up a bit, we made our way to the tavern. It seemed small and somewhat dark. Even the table at which we sat was dark. The blackened wood table was worn and I could imagine the locals sitting at this same table centuries ago. Tom warned me. Now Father, you may not like this beer. If not, don’t worry, I’ll finish it. I knew that wouldn’t be happening. The beer itself does have a unique smoky taste. Think of a very slight mesquite barbeque like taste. I enjoyed the dark malty brew and it’s worth a try if you’re into different types of beer. The actual name is Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. At the darkened table with the dark and smoky brew a number of things came to light – as is often the case. We talked life and we talked vocation. Tom always had a “religious” bend and he does to this day. He wants to leave the world a better place than how he found it. He’s thought of priesthood and religious life. He was and he is seeking. Tom not only introduced me to a unique type of beer, more recently he has introduced me to a unique type of vocation, one which, I must be honest, I’m not overly familiar. There are actually many different vocations in the Church, just like there are many different beers in the world – some of which, by the way, are brewed by monks. That’s a vocation that I want to discern! Tom contacted me the other day. He let me know that he is with the Focolare Movement. It is not a specifically Church sponsored organization, but (from Wikipedia) “the Focolare Movement is an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. Founded in northern Italy in 1943 as a Catholic movement, it remains largely Roman Catholic but has strong links to the major Christian denominations and other religions, or in some cases with the non-religious.” Tom is currently in Loppiano, Italy near Florence living in community there. It will be interesting to hear about his on-going experience. Maybe, one day, in a post-pandemic world, we’ll be able to get together once again drinking some Rauchbier at some dark table in some quaint little town where a friendship will be renewed, vocation will be discussed, and much of life and its unique living will be brought to light!