100th Anniversary of the founding of the Militia of the Immaculata

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Militia of the Immaculata, an evangelization apostolate of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Established on the evening of October 16, 1917 at the Conventual Franciscan’s College in Rome by St. Maximilian and six of his fellow students, its goal is to “win the whole world for Christ through the Immaculata, Mother of God and of the Church.”

The original aim of the MI was “To pursue the conversion to God of all people, be they sinners, or non-Catholics, or unbelievers, in particular the freemasons; and that all become saints, under the patronage and through the mediation of the Immaculate Virgin.

Kolbe was inspired to “do something” after a violent anti-Catholic demonstration by the Freemasons on Rome in early 1917, hence the original reference to the freemasons.

It has since spread throughout the world. One joins after a period of prayer and meditation on the charism of the MI. You then consecrate yourself to the Blessed Mother under the formula devised by St. Maximilian. His method is similar to the consecration of St. Louis DeMontfort. One typically selects a feast day associated with the Blessed Mother in order to join with however many others are consecrating themselves, and as a way of honoring Mary. The Act of Consecration is as follows:

“O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O sacred Virgin.

R. Give me strength against your enemies.”

The Daily Renewal of Total Consecration is:

“Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew
my consecration to you this day and for always, so that you
may use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in
the whole world. To this end I offer you all my prayers,
actions and sacrifices of this day.”

I have been a member of the MI since 2002; I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary of consecration to Mary this past October 7th, having selected the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary as my day to enroll.

Although the Militia of the Immaculata is not a recovery organization by any means, I do credit my consecration with keeping myself sober when AA was insufficient. I have always said here on “Sober Catholic” that my Catholic Faith has been primarily responsible for my sobriety, with AA and the Twelve Steps providing the focus for drinking-specific issues and root causes. But for spirituality and the growth and depth of my maturing relationship with my “Higher Power” (Jesus), the enduring basis for sobriety, I credit the Faith. And although I may not have realized it at the time, my consecration to the Blessed Mother quite possibly gave me the strength to deal with things that AA couldn’t. Putting yourself in the hands of Mary for her to use by whatever means she wishes to bring about a “Civilization of Love,” you’re pretty much guaranteed of a solid sobriety. Not that I haven’t on occasion “felt thirsty,” but the feeling withers quickly.

I do think that “Sober Catholic” is a direct result of inspiration from Mary. This is all subjective, of course. But that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Quotes and other information courtesy of Militia of the Immaculata in the USA. When you visit that site, you’ll discover plenty of information on the history and founding of the MI, including how to enroll and the preparation needed, as well as material on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

If you’re not in the USA, go here: MI International and you can locate information for your country.

I have also blogged about St. Maximilian Kolbe numerous times: St. Maximilian Kolbe post archives on Sober Catholic.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Early October feasts

October has a great number of feast days of some really awesome saints. On the 1st was St. Therese of Lisieux, the 2nd was our Guardian Angels, the 4th was St. Francis (with the celebration of his death and passing into eternity, the “Transitus” on the 3rd.) October 5th was the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska, the “Apostle of Divine Mercy,” who was inspired by Jesus to write a journal of His communications with her which is one of the 20th Century’s greatest mystical works (and may be on a short list of profound mystical writings in the 20 centuries of Catholicism). The 7th was the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. Today is St. Teresa of Avila, a master spiritual writer and mystic.

There’s no real point to this post except for two things:

1) to point out in a small way the riches of the Church through the lives of the saints. Thi is a major reason for this blog. Each one I mentioned above has something of value to offer sober Catholics. I may do a few blogposts in the near future to expound a little on that;

2) I have been blogging much too sporadically this year. I know, this has been an ongoing issue with myself over the decade I’ve been blogging and it will probably never end but still it bugs me. This quickie post is just “a little something” to get through the blogging blockage I’ve been suffering. “Blogging blockage” is the term I just now invented; it’s like “writer’s block,” but is caused by getting out of the habit of regular blogging (even if its just a post-a-week.) The blockage is that emotional of psychological feeling that too much time has elapsed since my last post and there’s this inertia keeping me from posting. A blogger at rest tends to remain at rest and blogging will just continue to slide. That answer to that is just to post. Post anything, as long as it’s relevant (and sometimes not!) Hence this.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The Fatima Message is ongoing

The Centennial of Our Lady’s Apparitions at Fatima concluded this past Friday, October 13th. On that day in 1917, Our Lady appeared with a promised miracle, the “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by over 70,000 people.

Because of this and other things I had thought that “something interesting” was going to occur of the 13th, something of a supernatural event. Nothing did, which is fine as my faith is not based upon prophetic events and the like. I was a little disappointed, but I got over it and “moved on.”

And so should we. The Fatima Message is not over with the centennial. I doubt anyone seriously thought that, but with all the postings in the Catholic blogosphere concerning 2017 being the anniversaries of several events (Fatima and the founding of the Militia of the Immaculata, the Bolshevik Revolution, the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Revolt, the 300th Anniversary of the founding of Freemasonry), I have a feeling that there was an expectation of something supernatural and with that a change in the world. Anyway…

God’s timing is not ours. We cannot will prophetic events. We can, however live Gospel lives and incorporate the Fatima Message into them. Prayer, penance, reparation for our sins and especially for those of others, saying the daily Rosary… all these point to living out our vocations as Catholics and hopefully making some positive impact on the world.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Sister Ignatia of Alcoholics Anonymous

Aleteia has a good article on Sister Ignatia: The Catholic nun behind Alcoholics Anonymous

Sr. Ignatia assisted AA co-founder “Dr. Bob” Smith at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, OH in AA’s early years. She was of tremendous help in developing a treatment program for alcoholics, probably the pioneer in such matters.

Sr. Ignatia was also responsible for what became the AA tradition of giving “chips” or medallions to people who have passed sobriety milestones (one day, 30 days, etc.). She gave Sacred Heart badges to people upon the completion of their hospitalization.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

St. Michael’s Lent begins today!

Today, August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, is also the beginning of the Franciscan devotion known as “St. Michael’s Lent.” It is a 40-day period of fasting begun by St. Francis of Assisi in the 1220’s similar to the actual Lenten season. It ends September 29th on the feast of St. Michael. It was during one of these fasts in 1224 that St. Francis received the stigmata.

I looked up this observance online, didn’t find much beyond what I stated above (there was an informative link that I referred a few years ago on Sober Catholic from a Franciscan site that is now a broken link.) But, I assume that you can just observe a fast of sorts (food or bad habit/character defect, etc.) and whatever other penitential practices you can think of.

I do believe that it is significant that this period begins and ends when it does. The Solemnity of the Assumption is observed because as Mary was preserved from Original Sin in her conception, she was bodily assumed into Heaven when her mortal period of time on Earth was over, thus preserving her from the corruption of death. St. Michael was the champion and leader of the blessed angels in their battle against Lucifer and his demons in the Fall of the Angels, and in his victory cast Satan out of Heaven. We can gain strength from theses days in our struggles against drinking and drugging, and especially against sins of impurity. If you are anxious and stressed about things (and what isn’t stressful nowadays?) you can perhaps “fast” from anxiety. Easier said than done. No wonder Satan uses impurity and addictions and fear in his ongoing war against those made in the image and likeness of God.

(Just in case anyone counts the number of days from Aug. 15 to Sept. 29, you’ll get “46.” .Don’t count the six Sundays that occur and you’ll get the forty. Sundays aren’t considered a part of any Lenten observance.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe begins (with updated links to the original)!

During Sober Catholic’s inaugural year in 2007, I decided to introduce readers to St. Maximilian Kolbe. He is a patron saint of addicts. Last year, on the 75th anniversary of his martyrdom I wrote this on my other blog In Exile :

“St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe was executed in the Nazi German concentration camp at Auschwitz seventy-five years ago today for being a Catholic priest.

He was a Conventual Franciscan friar and Guardian (leader, administrator) of Niepokalanow, then the world’s largest friary and a major Catholic media center. It is located some distance west of Warsaw, Poland.

He was canonized a saint by the Church in October 1982.

In late July 1941 a prisoner escaped and as was Nazi policy, ten men from that cell block were randomly selected to be sentenced to a starvation bunker until the escapee was found (dead or alive.) In reality, the ten condemned wouldn’t be released at all, regardless of the escapee’s status.

Death by starvation and dehydration is a very slow and very painful way to die. The ten were stripped naked and placed in a cell that measured three meters by three meters (that about 9 feet on a side.)

One of the ten was a Polish Army sergeant by the name of Franciszek Gajowniczek, who, upon being selected, wailed that he was a husband and father and bemoaned the fate of his family. Upon hearing this, Fr. Kolbe stepped out of line, went forward to the commander and offered to take the sergeant’s place.

The Nazi officer was duly astounded. Perhaps taken aback and confused by this act of selfless sacrifice, he accepted Kolbe’s offer and the Gajowniczek was excused. He survived the war.

Over the course of the next few weeks, the ten died, one-by-one. Every day an attendant would go into the cell to retrieve the dead.

Prison guards and camp survivors reported that while there would typically be sounds or rage and anger, of wailing and crying and begging, during the two weeks that Fr. Kolbe was imprisoned in the cell with the others, the sounds were quite different. Hymns were sung. Rosaries said. It was as if Fr. Kolbe had turned the bunker into a chapel. On August 14th, seeing that he was still alive, the Nazis got impatient that he wasn’t dying fast enough and had him injected with carbolic acid.

When he volunteered to take the sergeant’s place, the Nazi asked Fr. Kolbe who he was. His answer?

“I am a Catholic priest.”

This was his identity, it was who he was. He died for being a priest; he died being a priest, ministering to his fellow condemned.

Week48IAmACatholicPriest

(Image via MI Canada)

Being a priest was enough to have him targeted by the Nazis; however there was more to him than that. For nearly twenty years he published “Knight of the Immaculata,” a monthly magazine dedicated to being the voice of the Militia of the Immaculata movement he founded in 1917 (more on that, later.) This publishing venture, begun in 1922, gradually expanded over the 1920s and ‘30s to include other periodicals and a daily newspaper. Circulation was amongst the largest in pre-WW2 Poland (and significant amongst global circulations, too.) Fr. Kolbe had already launched a shortwave radio station, although it was limited at first to just being on the Amateur bands. He also had plans for a TV station. Expansion of the radio station to non-amateur broadcasting and the TV enterprise were halted by the Nazi and Soviet invasion of September 1939. Fr. Kolbe also had plans for a motion picture studio.

He was “New Evangelization” before anyone else thought of it. If you wish to get the gist of what he did and also what he planned, what Mother Angelica did in Alabama 50 years later is essentially that…”

Sober Catholic has links about him in the sidebar, as here is an Archive of Sober Catholic posts referring to St. Maximilian. Take your time to peruse them, some briefly refer to him, others give pretty good detail about him.

I bring this up as it is also time for the annual Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe. Technically, it should have begun yesterday so that it would end on the day prior to his feast day of August 14th, but I forgot to post about it. But, beginning it today like I did so that it’ll end on his feast day is all right (in my opinion.) You can say novenas to anyone at any time of the year. It is recommended that they’re said during the “proper time” as you’re adding your intentions to the clouds of prayers rising up to Heaven like incense. But maybe doing you own thing has a better chance of getting the saint’s attention 😉

In 2007 I wrote my own Novena. Here are the links to all nine days (To my horror I discovered that the links were “broken,” directing people to a prior, now defunct version of Sober Catholic. They are now corrected.)

The Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe for Alcoholics and Addicts:

Novena Day 1

Novena Day 2

Novena Day 3

Novena Day 4

Novena Day 5

Novena Day 6

Novena Day 7

Novena Day 8

Novena Day 9

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Random thoughts on the Blessed Sacrament

Random thoughts that I have while sitting in my parish’s Adoration Chapel just looking at Him.

You are little…the World prefers big.
You are humble… the World demands pride.
You are meek… the World encourages arrogance.
You are still… the World is fast.
You are helpless… the World honors the strong.
You are mercy… the World teaches revenge.
You are forgiveness… the World nurtures resentment.
You are quiet… the World blares noise.
You are peace…the World is at war.
You are sacred… the World is profane.
You are trust… the World is in fear.

Some of these had been inspired by a daily devotional of Eucharistic readings, others just popped into my head while thinking about them.

Just sitting quietly, whether alone with Him or with others present, is enough to “set the day aright.” Consider spending time in front the Blessed Sacrament; whether He is exposed or reposed matters little. He is still there awaiting you and welcomes you no matter.

(Maybe you can add your own thoughts in a similar vein in the comments; better yet, if you have a blog do a similar post and I’ll link to it here! …hint-hint…)

(Image courtesy of My wife, Rose Santuci-Sofranko.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

All things work for good…

There is a very reassuring passage from the Second Reading in today’s Mass for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

(Courtesy The Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version)

Reassuring inasmuch as it helps us to understand that regardless of what we are going through, there may be value to it. Suffering can be “offered up” in reparation for ours’ and others’ sins… we can use it to grow closer to God as that frequently is the reason for it. Suffering detaches us from the world as we can see that the means by which the world uses to allay suffering can often be destructive. If suffering is material or economic in nature it can encourage us to adapt to a more frugal and simple lifestyle; again, detaching us from the rampant materialism and consumerism that spawns greed and envy. We come to rely on Divine Providence.

At any rate, convinced that “all things work for good” helps us to become aware that eventually “it will get better,” that despite whatever our current situation is if we just keep our “eyes on the prize” we will get through it.

And we “who are called according to his purpose;” what purpose could that be but to hold onto our sobriety and recover the life we are supposed to lead?

So, keep on Trudgin’ the Road of Happy Destiny and know… it does get better. We just have to learn not to look at things the way the world does.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

One curious phenomenon…

I’ve taken to regular repeat readings and studies of AA’s “Big Book” and “12 and 12.” Although my Catholicism takes precedence in my recovery, Twelve Step literature – especially the main reference works, do provide major assistance in dealing with life issues and such.

I have noticed one curious phenomenon every time since I last read the books. New insights are gleaned and I’ve notice things I missed previously, or I understand them in a new way. It is like “as if” a passage has been “rewritten,” or otherwise is substantially different than it was before. This same phenomenon occurs when reading the Bible. Others have noticed this, too.

I’m told that this is because you have made substantial “spiritual progress” since previous readings. You are different than before, and it shows in your understanding of the text.

So, go back and reread, better yet study, the basic texts of your recovery program. And obviously, keep a Catholic Bible handy (and looking well-read)!

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

California Mystic- future saint?

I learned of a new potential saint in the Church, Servant of God Cora Evans. Born into Mormonism in in Utah in 1904, she died a Catholic in California in 1957. Her Cause for Beatification and Canonization was opened in 2012.

Her appeal is based upon numerous mystical visions she experienced, including many which revealed new details on the life of Christ and St. John the Baptist. I won’t go into details here, rather than duplicate efforts I strongly urge you to read 20th Century California Mystic, On The Road To Sainthood: Servant of God Cora Evans on Glenn Dallaire’s excellent blog, Mystics of the Church.

The reason why I am making this Servant of God known to you is that there are some interesting teachings contained in her writings from these visions. Namely, the “the Mystical Humanity of Christ, a way of prayer that encourages people to live with a heightened awareness of the indwelling presence of Jesus in their daily lives.” (From the Mystics of the Church blogpost on Evans.) This is not a new teaching, no private revelation ever has anything new to add to the Sacred Deposit of Faith. But revelations can emphasize certain “old” teachings or present them in a new way, perhaps to remind us of something forgotten or to prepare us for whatever is coming up in human history.

This “Mystical Humanity of Christ” appears to be a re-presentation of the Pauline doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ; the divine indwelling of Jesus in each of us baptized is nothing new, either. But apparently her writings teach a manner of prayer where this can be maintained constantly. Even that isn’t really new, for we are exhorted in the New Testament to “pray unceasingly.” Perhaps Evans offers a practical method. (I have not read any of her writings beyond what is excerpted on her Cause’s site: The Writings of Cora Evans. If you spend time on that site and study Glenn’s post on his Mystics… blog, you’ll know as much about Cora Evans as I do.)

If this “heightened awareness of the indwelling presence of Jesus in their daily lives” is legit, then this is an excellent spiritual exercise for all Catholics, but especially for those of us struggling with addiction (regardless of how long sober or clean.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"