Alcohol or Tobacco in Religious Life?


Hello everyone. I hope that this is not an absurd question, but is drinking or smoking generally allowed in religious orders? I currently neither smoke nor drink but am curious about this. I would think that such a thing as an alcoholic monk or chain-smoking friar is rare, if non-existent. But is moderation with either substance tolerated in, say, a mendicant order? I know that “bad habits” exist among at least a few of diocesan clergy, but wondered if such substances are consumed at all among those who have taken a vow of poverty, or is it typically considered to be sinful or a luxury? I thank you for any replies.


I’ve seen priests do both, smoke and drink…don’t know about monks or brothers…


I don’t know about alcoholics, but the Benedictines where I went to school made their own beer. (many orders used to make their own beer and wine). I have also seen Franciscans smoke.

I would imagine that alcohol would generally be limited in religious life, just because of the cost and availability. Smoking would depend on how strict the vow of poverty is (do they give the members a small allowance for personal items which smokes would be one) and if the order would make allowances for the addictions or have the person take this time to kick the habit.


i do not know about smoking, but the brothers of the sacred heart (which, God willing, i am going to join) do drink, not to excess, but they have several bottles of wine (probably 5 or six) that they keep at one of their residences.


A few years ago I dated a man who had previously gone to seminary and spent a year in Rome taking classes. One of his teachers was a Papal Latinist who, according to my ex, was a full-blown alcoholic who drank during lectures. He said it was no secret, and while not encouraged it was obvious no one was going to do anything to stop him.


We have no rules against either in the Carmelites.

We also have a tradition of recreation before dinner which we call potus. This is when we gather before dinner for recreation which in many of our houses includes a drink or two.


I know who that is! HAHAHAHA…


I appreciate all of your informative comments.


I’ve heard of monks and brothers making their own beer. And I’ve heard of nuns under a strict vow of poverty being allowed to have a glass of wine and sweets on Christmas.



I know a friar who would have a weekly cigar. And I certainly know friars who drink.



From the Rule of Saint Benedict:

Chapter 40: On the Measure of Drink

“Everyone has her own gift from God,
one in this way and another in that” (1 Cor. 7:7).
It is therefore with some misgiving
that we regulate the measure of others’ sustenance.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the needs of the weak,
we believe that a hemina of wine a day is sufficient for each.
But those to whom God gives the strength to abstain
should know that they will receive a special reward.

If the circumstances of the place,
or the work
or the heat of summer
require a greater measure,
the superior shall use her judgment in the matter,
taking care always
that there be no occasion for surfeit or drunkenness.
We read
it is true,
that wine is by no means a drink for monastics;
but since the monastics of our day cannot be persuaded of this
let us at least agree to drink sparingly and not to satiety,
because “wine makes even the wise fall away” (Eccles. 19:2).

But where the circumstances of the place are such
that not even the measure prescribed above can be supplied,
but much less or none at all,
let those who live there bless God and not murmur.
Above all things do we give this admonition,
that they abstain from murmuring.


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