St. John the Baptist and Recovery

I’ve just read a book on St. John the Baptist: (John the Baptist: Prophet and Disciple) and now is an appropriate time to have done that since it’s Advent. As John is the Precursor of Christ, foretelling of His first Coming, this book helped me to better prepare for Christmas.

One thing about my reading it is that I should have given St. John the Baptist a much larger role in this blog. I don’t think I’ve mentioned him too often. This is odd as I’ve kind of felt this blog to be in the spirit of his mission. He pointed the way to Christ, he was not the light, but merely reflected the light of Christ. He decreased, so that Christ would increase. Likewise, I’ve used this blog to not especially promote a plan of recovery (save for possibly a “Matt Talbot Way”), but rather to point the way to what resources the Church offers to alcoholics and addicts. Rather than illuminate a “Catholic Recovery Program” invented by me, I’ve sought to reflect the light of the Church with regard to the possible efficacy of the Mass and the Sacraments, prayers and devotions, the Saints and others, to those who might be searching for it, but do not see it. Don’t come looking to me, take a look at what I’m pointing out. I’ll get out-of-the-way, you spend more time in Church. ;-)

And so, I’ve had some attachment and self-identification with the “Voice crying out in the wilderness” tagline that St. John the Baptist used. In fact, if I recall back when I started this blog in January 2007, I considered that for a title for this blog. I probably rejected it as being too wordy and not properly descriptive.

So, this one sober Catholic “Voice crying out in the wilderness” of recovery, pointing the way to the healing power of the Church and Her resources, is going to spend a few posts writing about St. John the Baptist and how his message of prayer, fasting and repentance can be useful in recovery.

A brief review of the book linked to above: It’s a very good work, it should be in every Christian’s library. It very much helped me to better appreciate the role of John in salvation history and his place within Christianity. My only problem with it is I think it could have gone through one or two more rewrites. The author frequently brought up points as if it were the first time he mentioned them. A minor cosmetic or stylistic problem, but I got annoyed every time he brought up, for example, the issue of scholars regarding John as merely being a product of “Second Temple Judaism.” The multiple times he mentioned this is fine, it’s just that the way he brought it up was as if each time was the first. But don’t let that get in the way of getting the book, ordering information is in that link up above.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Awestruck’s “Life on the Rock” appearance!

I watched on You Tube an episode of EWTN’s show, “Life on the Rock,” which featured the guys behind a new and growing Catholic Social Network, “Awestruck.”

A little bit about Awestruck (from the network’s “About” page):

“The main-stream media is not in the business of promoting the Church nor the message of the Gospel. Giant social networks like Facebook, because of their necessarily inclusive approach, often overstep the mark by tolerating and even promoting content radically opposed to the faith and to good morals. For example: Vimeo and Tumblr are infested with porn and repeated attempts to close a number of hate groups on Facebook have not been successful. This situation calls for a niche social network dedicated to celebrating the faith and promoting the Church. A trusted space where Catholics can feel “at home”, discover trusted Catholic content through our feeds, and have the tools to easily share this content to networks outside of Awestruck. That’s Awestruck in a nutshell.”

The place also has a lot of useful tools and functions for Catholic bloggers and organizations. I’ve written about that here: Awestruck for Catholic Bloggers

I highly recommend and strongly suggest that if you’re Catholic, join up! If you had before, but didn’t do much with it, try again! The place has evolved from what it looked like a few months ago, site functions and navigation are very good. It is a great place to meet and interact with Catholics from around the world! Right here: Awestruck.

The video is here:

And: My Profile.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

But I’m not drinking over it (UPDATED)

I live in western New York State, in the USA, and this past week we’ve been suffering through a near-Apocalyptic snowstorm. Depending upon the location, various areas have received at least three to seven feet of snow (that’s one to over two meters).

All over the area, people are coming together to offer assistance; neighbors helping neighbors, not waiting for the government to help (which is admittedly limited and strained due to the severe conditions). Facebook in particular has been extremely helpful in this grassroots mutual aid effort; there are several Groups formed with the express purpose of organizing and coordination offers of help with requests for aid.

I can’t do much, trapped in my house. All I am doing is posting and resharing links and the like.

But, the point of this post is that I am a sober alcoholic and I don’t want a drink.

Not at all.

And I have an 800 foot (250m) long driveway buried in 3-5+ feet of snow that’s probably too hard for our snowplow friend to plow with his pickup. And he drives plows for the town, and so he’s been working around the clock plowing township streets, so who knows if/when he’ll be available?

And I haven’t been to work in a week. And I may not get paid for this week unless I either use whatever vacation/personal time I have remaining, or otherwise hope we all qualify for FEMA funds (if/when they become available) and that covers lost wages or perhaps if the State Labor Dept has some form of Unemployment Insurance for the week. And there’s no guarantee I can get out of my driveway on Tuesday when I’m next scheduled to go to work. 

And I have to worry about our roof collapsing what with all the snow on it, getting heavier with the added rain expected today/tomorrow.

And I have to be concerned about water. We get ours from a well, but that tastes strange despite being fit for consumption. And so we get drinkable water in jugs, which are getting low. I’ve taken to collecting snow and boiling it to use for my own purposes (i.e. COFFEE) so that my wife can have the good water. We have been wanting to get one of those “Big Berkey Water Filter” contraptions to ease our dependence on this, but money is stretched.

And I have to worry about power outages; what with all the snow out there, and the expected rain, trees may collapse, pulling down power lines.

And I have no need for a drink, nor even want one.

I am not a martyr, so don’t interpret this to be, “See what a good ex-drunk I am.” Not a boast, just a statement of facts to perhaps inspire others who have issues and things and they reach for a drink to ease the suffering. this is what happens a lot in AA meetings; people discuss their issues, and declare “I didn’t have to take a drink over it.”

UPDATE: The snow is almost gone; almost right after the storm ended, temperatures started to rise and much of the snow melted. Although we had difficulty in getting out of the driveway, we managed. The friend of ours who I mentioned does our plowing isn’t able to for the time being as his pickup with the plow has something wrong with it. Hopefully this winter won’t be bad and weather cooperates and we can get out when we need to.

There was another “warm up” yesterday; you’ll never know that there was a major snowstorm a few weeks ago, although there are signs of it in fallen trees and tree limbs. Some areas were hit by heavy flooding, be we didn’t suffer that.

I should get paid for the week I lost at work; my boss said he will submit a request to use my available vacation or personal time (I was planning on asking him to do that, so it’s all good!)

And thus the appeal I had included in the original post isn’t needed, but I’ll remind you in case you’re encouraged to support the work of this blog that there’s a PayPal link up top, right below Matt Talbot’s picture, where you can donate money. I do wish to thank those who did donate, your contributions will be put to good use. Prayers are always appreciated, too!

Thank you!

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Awestruck for Catholic Bloggers

If you are a Catholic blogger, the Awestruck Catholic Social Network offers some interesting tools. I mentioned ACSN before: Awestruck Network USA Tour 2014 Regarding these blogging tools, to quote from their site:

“We created Awestruck to serve the Catholic blogosphere as best we can. A useful feature is the creative freedom we offer catholic bloggers through our network, namely, full access to our blogging platform. Our Bloggers Dashboard allows users to run a WordPress blog directly on Awestruck.

For those communicators who use various platforms to produce content e.g. Pinterest Boards / Tumblr or Facebook Pages, WordPress or Blogger sites, Awestruck can be a powerful tool to aggregate their content. Activity on third party networks, upon request, can be automatically syndicated to an Awestruck user profile. Bloggers, tell us what your URL is and if you’re in sync with the Church we’ll sync your feed. Links to all aggregated content point directly to the source. With linked sites we display only a snippet of the source content, together with a thumbnail, in order to showcase the original site. In fact, Awestruck actively seeks out the best publicly syndicated feeds and aggregates them in an effort to promote the Catholic blogosphere and help consolidate its members (who are very often isolated and disconnected).

And for others who can benefit from Awestruck’s network: “No longer a single site, Awestruck consists of various sites networked together through a customizable social stream. One login gives you access to all sites on the network. Think of a site as a lens through which you choose to view the network. Choose one lens or flip between as many as you please. Each lens (site) has a unique menu, highlights specific groups and aggregates related feeds. Sites distinguish themselves regionally or thematically and new sites will be added to serve new interests and communities.

If you’re getting your news and opinions of the Church from predominantly secular sources the odds are that you are not following the international Catholic blogosphere – communicators who make it their mission through their blogs to provide a Catholic perspective on anything from politics to sport to beer to craft.”

Beer? Catholics blog about beer? What I can tell ya about beer… oh, nevermind ;-) So, if you’re a Catholic blogger, or want to be one, or you just love the entire holy lot of us, Awestruck can help you sort it all out!

Note: Both Sober Catholic and its sister blog, The Four Last Things, are aggregated on Awestruck and are a part of the “Scribes” site. I do not use their Blogger Dashboard as I prefer to self-host. Getting my stuff aggregated involves a simple message to Norm (the dude who heads the network) with your blog’s URL. I also included the URL for my blogs’ RSS feed, although he didn’t ask for it.

Check it out!

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

“Catholic Healing Prayers”

A good friend on Facebook posted about this site that contains numerous Catholic prayers for healing. There is also a list of healing Scripture verses. I thought I’d share it with you.

Catholic Healing Prayers – Overcoming Serious Illness.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Death! Where is your sting?

NOTE: this post is a version slightly edited from The Four Last Things. “O death! You separate those who are joined to each other in marriage. You harshly and cruelly divide those whom friendship unites. But your power is broken. Your heinous yoke has been destroyed by the One who sternly threatened you when Hosea cried out: O Death! I shall be your death. And with the words of the apostle we, too, deride you: O death! Where is your victory? O death! Where is your sting!

Your conqueror redeemed us. He handed himself over to wicked men so that he could transform the wicked into persons who were truly dear to him.” – St. Braulio, Bishop.

The above is from the Office of Readings in the Office of the Dead from the Liturgy of the Hours. I said that this morning instead of the usual Divine Office as today is the ninth anniversary of my Mom’s death.

I still haven’t gotten completely over it. Who really does “get over” death? Perhaps some unfortunates.

I posted the above quote from St. Braulio to give comfort and to remind you that there is hope in the Resurrection. I also post it to remind those that harbor resentments that the clock is ticking. Once people are gone, they’re gone. Amends can no longer be made.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Blog redesign

I was sort of in a geeky mood this afternoon and decided to make some changes to Sober Catholic’s design.

I went with one sidebar, deciding to merge all of the features of the now-deleted right sidebar into the left. I did this as I have a plugin that automatically converts this site to a mobile view for those who read Sober Catholic on a smartphone or tablet. It also happens to do that when viewed on a netbook (whick kind of freaked me out a few weeks ago, I thought someone had hacked the blog and redesigned it. I like consistency, and so went ahead and merged the sidebars).

I also think posts read better, now that they have more space across whatever screen size they’re read on.

It also means I may have to search for “right sidebar” and edit all posts that that reference some feature on that side whenever I had to point it out. :-(

Some widgets were also deleted, mostly “badges” linking to the blog’s Pages on social networks. Those widgets slowed the loading of the blog and were just clutter, I think. Besides, the links are found in the “About this Blog” and “About Me” Pages up above.

Other than that, it’s the same theme, and with a nicer color scheme. :-)

Since everything is on one side, I may run more Google Ads, and perhaps some other advertising options. There’s space, they can “break up” the link widgets and possibly bring in some needed revenue.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

The Miracle of the Sun and Halloween

On October 13, 1917 the final Marian Apparition at Fatima, Portugal took place.

I know I’m a few weeks late with this, but upon reflection, I decided to push back writing this until today, the Feast of All Hallow’s Eve (a/k/a “Halloween”). I’ll explain at the end.

Seventy thousand people attended the event, which was supposed to have a miracle promised by the Virgin Mary so that all may believe.

Amongst those present were representatives of the Portuguese media, all socialist and all anti-clerical (theophobes who despised the Catholic Church, professed atheism, and who cooperated in what they hoped would be the eventual destruction of the Church in Portugal. The country had undergone a revolution in 1910 which deposed the Catholic monarch and imposed restrictions on the Church.)

Our Lady appeared as promised, but not alone. St. Joseph also appeared, holding the Christ Child.

Oh, yes: the sun also danced in the sky. Witnessed by all those in attendance, and by more hundreds of miles away, the sun whirled about in the sky, terrifying the witnesses.

It also appeared to hurtle towards the Earth, convincing people that the World was ending (and this part of the Apparition is why I decided to take advantage of my posting tardiness and write this today.)

One note on the sun dancing: for anyone who may be skeptical, one evidence that “something” happened lays in the fact that it had been raining heavily all day long, so much so that the ground throughout the area was drenched. Saturated with water, and combined with the foot traffic of 70,000 attendees, it was a horrific muddy mess.

Until the sun dried it. Nearly instantly. According to all those present, after the Apparition was over and the sun returned to its normal state, the ground was hardened as though it had not seen rain for weeks.

And another note for skeptics: this was all duly reported by the anti-clerical media. The reporters had gone there hoping (or rather assuming) that the whole event would be a non-happening; that the seers would be shamed,the Church embarrassed and once and for all the foolish belivers would have their religious superstitions exposed for what they are – nonsense.

But no, they couldn’t deny the event, their skepticism and non-belief didn’t prevent them from witnessing the Miracle of the Sun, nor acknowledging the effects on the physical environment.

So much for that.

Now, as to why I “reframed the situation” and took advantage of my lateness in posting this.

As the sun plunged to the Earth the believers were understandably freaked out. They thought the world was ending.

The liturgical calendar for the Catholic Church has tomorrow as the Solemnity of All Saints, and after that the Memorial of All Souls. All Saints is for all those in Heaven, officially canonized by the Church or not; and All Souls is for the Faithful Departed who are undergoing purification in Purgatory.

These two days are there (amongst other reasons) to remind us of our ultimate end. Someday we will all die. There is no escaping that.

Maybe this is something for you to consider, before God decides to hurl the Sun at you.

(This is the last post on the Marian Apparition at Fatima, Portugal for 2014. As I’ve stated before, I plan to write on this Apparition around the anniversaries of each apparition in the months they occurred through the centenary anniversary in 2017. The Apparition happened on the 13th of May, June, July, September and October, as well as a late one on August 19th. I do this because upon my research into the the Apparitions, I find many things useful to Catholics in addiction recovery. To discover more, please see the “Fatima” category in the drop-down Category menu in the sidebar.)

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Awestruck Network USA Tour 2014

UPDATED (see below after the strikethrough):

Some South African Catholics who’ve started the “Awestruck Catholic Social Network” will be travelling to the USA in November to film a guest spot on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” show. This is a wonderful opportunity for you all to engage in some Works of Mercy, meet people from a far country and help the Church fill a critical need.

First, a little bit about Awestruck (from the network’s “About” page):

“The main-stream media is not in the business of promoting the Church nor the message of the Gospel. Giant social networks like Facebook, because of their necessarily inclusive approach, often overstep the mark by tolerating and even promoting content radically opposed to the faith and to good morals. For example: Vimeo and Tumblr are infested with porn and repeated attempts to close a number of hate groups on Facebook have not been successful. This situation calls for a niche social network dedicated to celebrating the faith and promoting the Church. A trusted space where Catholics can feel “at home”, discover trusted Catholic content through our feeds, and have the tools to easily share this content to networks outside of Awestruck. That’s Awestruck in a nutshell.”

The network was started a few years ago and has grown steadily. One upcoming boost in its global profile and exposure will be their appearance on EWTN next month. And hence the reason for this post.

Norm and Cris (the two “Awestruckers” appearing on the show) will be doing some travelling about the States while here. They are travelling with almost no money – trusting in Divine Providence and remembering that He sent the 12 out with not even a change of cloak!

As we read in the Gospels:

Matthew 10:10 “…no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick.”

And remember: Matthew 10: 11-13 “Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.

And here’s a biggie: Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…”

Have you ever read those passages and wondered what you might have done if people sent by Our Lord and Saviour Himself appeared in your town and perhaps your door and needed a place to stay or some other help? Or what if the visitor was Him? Now’s your chance! While not implying that Norm and Cris are the equvalent to the Apostles or Jesus (but they are disciples of Jesus, as are you and I), they are taking upon themselves an enormous challenge in travelling all the way from South Africa to the United States on this mission that benefits the Church and Catholics worldwide.

This takes guts and heroism. Cape Town is nearly 8,000 miles (14,000 km) from New York City. A long trip, and they’re traveling another few thousand after arriving!

Their itinerary:

  • Arriving in the US on 5 November – first stop New York City for 3 nights.
  • Flying to Pittsburgh, PA on 8 November for 2 nights to visit the nearby Franciscan University of Steubenville.
  • Leaving for Dallas, TX on 10 November and staying for 1 night.
  • Onward to Birmingham, AL and EWTN on 11 November for 3 nights.
  • Then on to Atlanta, GA on 14 November from where Cris will return to Cape Town.
  • Norm to remain for the night of 14 November in Atlanta from where he will leave for home on 15 November.

***The guys are really needing some help in Pittsburgh/Steubenville, Dallas and Atlanta. Anyone around those places who can support their cause with beds and meals?***

UPDATE: They have places to sleep in all of their stops, although Dallas had to be dropped. But there is still the issue of money, for some meals and also some travel expenses.

So, since some of their material needs are being met (beds) can you help out financially? You can do this by several ways:

  • joining up at Awestruck and providing a financial contribution through a PayPal button. How to join? Again, quoting from their network on signing up: “Join thousands of fellow Catholics. The easiest way to register is to simply “Login with Facebook”, then, access all sites on the network, make friends, follow feeds, create open or closed social networks for your parish/group/organization, discover, post and share from the stream at will.” But you needn’t use your Facebook login (I didn’t, I registered and created an account separately. But that’s easy, too!) Awestruck is found here: “Awestruck”.
  • If you’re not willing to join Awestruck, you can send a donation to me through PayPal, my donation button is near the top of the blog, you can’t miss it. Please just make a notation as to what it is for (the “Awestruck Tour” will do). I will then transfer it along to them ASAP.

And if you do join, you can find me here and send a Friend Request: My profile.

This endeavor has a Group on Awestruck that you can join and learn more or give advice:
Awestruck USA Tour 2014

I sincerely hope that if you are reading this you can do several things:

  • Support Awestruck in some way, either by sending a financial contribution to their PayPal
  • and/or by helping out the intrepid Awestruck travellers in some way.
  • Just joining the network, help it grow by spreading the word about it
  • Make use of it in some way! Make it an integral part of your online life!

Finally, a greeting from Awestruck:

“Awestruck will be shooting a “Life on the Rock” show on 13 November at EWTN Studios, Birmingham which will be aired on 10 December 2014!
We are extremely keen to meet up (socially) with any Awestruckers along the way. Coffee anyone?”

Coffee?!?!? Did someone mention coffee?????

Special thanks to Awestrucker Ana St. Paul for some of the information for this post. (I hope you didn’t mind my copy/pasting of your stuff. ;-) )

Let me know what you can do via the comments or by email (sobercatholic at gmail dot com).

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

EWTN’s Fr. Groeschel passed away

Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, 81, died at St. Joseph’s Home for the elderly in Totowa, New Jersey, USA at 11PM on October 3, 2014, after a long illness. He was a noted author, speaker, psychologist, and spiritual director familiar to many from his shows and appearances on EWTN as well as from his numerous books.

Fr. Groeschel was very important in my reversion to the Catholic faith, as well as on how I maintained my sobriety. Although he wasn’t an alcoholic or an addict, he was a psychologist with a unique insight into things that I found applicable to addiction recovery. Perhaps this was also due to him being a priest. It was  his recognizing our fallen nature and the manifestations of that nature within our minds and “inordinate attractions” that inspired me to buy and read a great number of his books. He ministered to that fallen nature, appropriate for a priest, but with his added psychology credentials.

Many of his books dealt with spiritual development, growing closer to God and just “coping.” Coping with death and grief. Coping with daily trials and troubles. Hence why I feel that if you’re a Catholic in recovery from addictions of any sort, start getting his books.

I learned much from his books and television appearances on the healing power of Catholicism, from her Sacraments to prayer life and devotions to spiritual reading and the like.

As we see in the Gospel of Jesus according to Mark:

{2:17} Jesus, having heard this, said to them: “The healthy have no need of a doctor, but those who have maladies do. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.”

via Catholic Public Domain Version of the Sacred Bible.

Fr. Groeschel was a wonderful example of this.

Information on his death, memorial services, a Facebook Group in his memory and where donations can made is found here: Statement On Father Groeschel by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media