got email?

I had received an email notification earlier today about someone requesting membership in the old Matt Talbot Way of Sobriety Yahoo email Group. Unfortunately, that Group is largely defunct as there’s been no activity for a few years.

This brought to mind an idea I had about starting an informal email list. Nothing like a Yahoo or Google email Group, just a bunch of us sober (or aspiring to be sober) Catholics who will email each other when we need to in order to keep in touch, offer support, report on “where we’re at” and pray for one another.

It will be just this: If you’ve emailed me recently (like within the past year or so) or I otherwise know you from way back, you might be getting an email from me regarding this idea. This initial email will be a blind copy “bcc:” to everyone to preserve anonymity and inquire about interest; after that, the emails will be the standard “To:” any interested. Those who take part will then be introduced to each other through the subsequent emails. The extent to which you’d like to share personal info is up to you. It might be advisable to not use an email address that contains your real name.

It isn’t complicated; after receiving the bcc’s email, let me know if you’re interested. After that you’d just use the email option “reply to all” (or however your email program or app has it) and participate. Or just read everyone’s emails if you’re not that talkative. Remember to add all recipients to your Address Book or “approved recipients” or whatever it says so someone’s email won’t end up in a spam folder.

It is a cozy, very anonymous way for each of us to offer mutual support and fellowship.

To that end, I think I’ll go through my email accounts that readers use to write to me and look up people.

If you who are reading this might be interested, look up my email address in the “About Me” page and let me know!

Another option is to revive the Talbot Yahoo email Group. I’m not sure I want to do that as people might not feel it’s anonymous enough.

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 Future of the Four Last Things Blog

I have spent much of this past month discerning the future of “The Four Last Things Blog.” Originally it was to be an auxiliary to Sober Catholic but focusing on the specific subjects of Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell (the four “last things” we are all going to face one day), rather than general recovery topics from a Catholic perspective. Purgatory, too. Although that isn’t a “Last Thing” as it precedes Heaven. This was because these subjects are rarely covered in Twelve Step meetings. However, despite the good intentions, I haven’t really done much. I never intended to blog extensively at “The Four Last Things” anyway, but I had hoped to delve somewhat more into the various topics, even wandering off into metaphysical speculations and other randomness, as well as any possible grief recovery blogging. There are just over 150 posts which averages to nearly 18 a year. A lot are repetitious ones from prior years on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, cemetery visits and devotions and the like. But, “I never intended to blog extensively anyway” when combined with a slacker-blogger attitude has resulted in the blog being essentially undeveloped.

More activity has been found on the blog’s social media Pages on Facebook and Google+. I might keep those. That’s part of the discernment. I could just as easily post Four Last Thing’s material to “Sober Catholic’s” social Pages in the future, I just don’t know. It might be better to just consolidate. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to export content from a Facebook or Google+ Page and import that content into another one. There are points to continuing the Pages or deleting them (or consolidating them into “Sober Catholic’s” if that’s possible.)

So, given that the stated purpose of the blog was to bring a focus onto the Four Last Things as they are mostly ignored in the real life rooms and online universe of addiction recovery, and as its publishing has fallen way short of that desired goal, I think that the most reasonable solution is to combine “The Four Last Things Blog” into this one. Relevant posts can be published here, and in case I feel a need to blog on matters such as death, dying and the afterlife but without the recovery aspect, those posts can go on “Paul Sofranko’s Blog.” At any rate, “Four Last Things” type posts will be far more visible than they are now, continuing to exist in the post-shutdown afterlife 😉

So, the possible plan for shutting it down will be to export the blog’s file, then import that file here. This file includes all posts, comments, categories, tags and media. I have to manually transfer blogrolls and sidebar widgets; one of the latter, the “Find a Grave” widget, will go to “Paul Sofranko’s Blog.”

But for now I’ll just post this here for now and think about it. One historical sidenote: way back before I self-hosted my blogs they were on Google’s Blogspot servers; I decided once to delete “the Four Last Things,” then changed my mind and resurrected it. So, there’s been some doubt all along as to whether this is a worthy standalone effort. However, it has been in continuous existence since 2010.

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"

Happy New Year!

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year. Just like that secular New year when everyone makes resolutions or otherwise sees it as a time to “turn over a new leaf” or “start over,” we can also use the new Church year to start anew.

Become a better Catholic! Take advantage of the Sacraments! Go to Daily Mass (if you can), start going to Confession more often (like maybe once a month! Or more!) Know of Eucharistic Adoration at a parish somewhere near you? Then go and have a Holy Hour! Read the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and grow in your knowledge of the Faith! Read your Catholic Bible! According to St. Jerome, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!”

There’s LOTS of things that you can do to grow spiritually! Tough times are possibly ahead for Catholics – deepening your knowledge of the Faith and strengthening your relationship with the Lord are ways to deal with whatever is coming down the road…

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"

Claiming God’s Mercy

The Year of Mercy ended last Sunday with Pope Francis’ closing of the Holy Doors in Rome. (Obviously, this post is late. 😉 ) However, mercy is not limited to a single “year.” God’s Mercy is available to everyone who desires it and is easily found in the “tribunal of mercy,” also known as the Sacrament of Penance (or “Confession” or “Reconciliation.”)

Advent begins today. Embracing the Sacrament of Penance by going to Confession during the season of Advent is an excellent way to prepare for the coming of the Lord. For that is what Advent is about, preparation for the arrival of Jesus’ first coming and if you have been praying the Divine Office these past few weeks in November, you are aware that the Church hasn’t waited for Advent; many of the readings in the Church’s “official prayer book” have been referring to the Lord’s Second Coming as well. It is not enough that we need to commemorate His first arrival in a stable in Bethlehem, we have to also be made aware that there is a promise of a Second Coming. The Church in Her infinite wisdom and love is shepherding us along the path towards the narrow gate that Jesus spoke of.

Matthew 7: 13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leads to perdition, and many there are who enter through it. How narrow is the gate, and how straight is the way, which leads to life, and few there are who find it!

Source: Matthew – Catholic Public Domain Version of the Sacred Bible

Why? Because His Second Coming won’t be like the first; He will come as a Just Judge, bringing to completion human history. We will be judged according to our faith and deeds and especially how merciful we ourselves have been to others.

To pass through that narrow gate, we need to repent and claim the Mercy of God.

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ appeared in mystical visions to the young Polish nun Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska back in the 1930’s. I’ve blogged about the “Divine Mercy” devotions before SEE Divine Mercy Post Archive. In her Diary in which she described the visions, she records several statements made by Him on Mercy. Read a few of them and be inspired to seek a priest and have your sacramental confession heard (the numbers refer to paragraphs in her Diary):

723: The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy. My mercy is confirmed in every work of My hands. He who trusts in My mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are mine, and his enemies will be shattered at the base of My footstool.

687: (Concerning the Chaplet of Divine Mercy) Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.

1567: Make known to souls the great mercy that I have for them and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depths of My mercy.

So, think about “where you’re at” in your recovery and also in your relationship with the Lord. Avail yourself of His Mercy. Many parishes have special days and times set aside for Penance in addition to the regularly scheduled times. If you haven’t been to Confession in many years, perhaps call the priest to make an appointment. He can possibly suggest a good examination of concience to help you get started, or just while you’re there guide you along the way.

How to pray The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy

How to get the Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul: the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

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"

Links updated

I went through every link in the sidebar to test which ones are current and deleted those that are offline or otherwise “gone.” I also added several new ones recently discovered. Enjoy! This was long overdue. If you know of any other resources that are suitable for adding, please email me.

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"

REVIEW of “Praying for Those with Addictions” by Anne Costa

Speaker, author and spiritual coach Anne Costa has written a new book and it’s for people who are affected by others’ addictions. “Praying for Those with Addictions: A Mission of Love, Mercy and Hope” offers a Catholic spiritual approach that would be an excellent aid for those coping with a family member or other loved one suffering from addiction.

badke6 annecosta

From the Introduction: “This book is written to offer hope in the hell storm of addiction. It will set you on a course for a mission of love and mercy and for a miracle of healing, not just for the person who is addicted, but for yourself as well.

What seems clear is that at the heart of every addiction is a wound that needs to be healed.

What we DO know and can believe is that prayer works and faith fixes things!

We can stand in the gap through prayer, sacrifice, and supplication for the one who is addicted. Our prayers can, and will, make a difference.”

“Praying for Those with Addictions” is divided into twelve chapters, one for each month of the year. The idea is that this book can be used as a sort of “workbook” throughout the year, each chapter taking you along a spiritual road leading you towards a greater degree of freedom in dealing with your loved ones’ addiction problem and how you can best assist them. Along the way you will learn much about God’s compassion and love.

Each chapter concludes with four sections, one for each week of the month. Each section has a passage from Scripture for you to meditate upon for that week. There are prayers helping you with the meditation, along with a “reflective question” paired off with the verse. All these assist you in starting a prayer journal. (I can personally attest that writing is therapeutic. Whether you call it “journaling” or “blogging,” getting stuff out there even if only you read it helps. I seriously need to do that more often…)

While the book is intended for people in Al-Anon and similar groups for other addictions, I do feel it is worthwhile if the addict or alcoholic is yourself. There are many useful practices that can be applied to anyone in recovery. For example, there is a wonderful examination of conscience for each line of the Lord’s Prayer in Chapter 5: “One Day at a Time.”

There are not very many books published that specifically serve Catholics in dealing with addictions relative to those serving the non-Catholic Christian community; Costa has done all of us sober Catholics in particular and the Church in general a great service in writing this. I highly recommend this book, it is a needed treasure and most definitely fills a void. This is a book that should be on every Catholic’s recovery bookshelf, or better yet, on your prayer table or wherever you do your daily prayers and meditations. It will have a lasting and positive impact on your life as well as the ones you love who are addicts.

From the back of the book: “WE ALL KNOW people who struggle with addictions. Sometimes they are our dearest loved ones. We often feel helpless in the face of their struggle, and yet our prayers are the best weapons we have to help them break free. Anne Costa shows us that we can cooperate with God’s grace as we wait in hope for healing to come. And as we wait, our prayers will help us as well.”

You may order it directly from the publisher here: “Praying for Those with Addictions” from The Word Among Us Press. The publisher’s page also give ebook links so you can buy it for your Kindle, Apple, Nook or Android device.

You can also read a free, thirty page preview on Issuu that gives you a good idea of the structure: Preview on Issuu.

Costa has written other books, you can find them here: Books by Anne Costa.

DISCLAIMER: Costa has listed this blog as a resource (among many other useful ones, some I didn’t know about! I have to update the links sidebar…). Doing so did not impact my review; I would have declined to write it if I thought poorly of the book.

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"

Spiritual Communions

got Jesus?

If not, then you can unite yourself to Him by various means. The best and most obvious is to got to Mass and if you’re in a state of grace (no mortal sins on your soul) receive Holy Communion. Next best is to visit the Blessed Sacrament where it may be exposed for Adoration. Praying before the reposed (hidden behind the tabernacle) Eucharist in Church before or after Mass is excellent, too. Often, the only way as Adoration of the exposed Eucharist isn’t readily available everywhere.

Nowhere near a Catholic Church? No problem! Although Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist in every Catholic parish, He is spiritually present everywhere. One can therefore make a “spiritual communion.” While not a substitute for receiving Him sacramentally in the Eucharist, making a spiritual communion offers you a way to unite yourself to Him where ever you happen to be. Driving to work, going to your dentist for a root canal, suffering in class during an excruciatingly boring lecture; anywhere you are, doing anything.

A traditional one is this:

“My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You.”

If that is too long to memorize, you can always just say “Jesus, come into my heart and soul.” Or anything that reveals a longing for Him.

St. Maximilian Kolbe suggested that one be made every 15 minutes.

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"

…death of an unknown addict..

A drug addict died recently. Name, gender and circumstances known perhaps only to family and friends. But that drug addict left behind something that may make another’s life a nice long one.

For he or she was an organ donor, and my niece now has a new liver.

According to reports, although the donation is “high-risk” due to the addiction, doctors tested it and it is in great condition and visually looks excellent.

Prayers requested for my niece, for her recovery from the operation and that she doesn’t reject the liver.

Also, prayers requested for the soul of the donor. May we meet in Heaven.

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"

God’s voice versus Satan’s voice

I came across one of those “inspiring” images online; I rarely (if ever) have posted them on here, I usually just share them on SoberCatholic’s social media Pages. But this one deserves a share here, as I think it addresses a problem common to all alcoholics and addicts, regardless of how long sober and clean. (I don’t know who the creator is, it didn’t come with any attribution.)

godsvoicevssatansvoice

It appears that “Satan’s voice” is heard quite often by us; frequently when trying to become sober, often still long afterwards.

That voice also isn’t some evil-sounding, malicious growl dripping with hate, either. It can sound like people we know who have been harsh and judgmental with us in the past. Satan knows the pain they’ve caused and just exploits that.

Keep tring to hear that sweet, still, small voice of God.

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. Maximilian Kolbe: martyr, patron of addicts, died 75 years ago today

NOTE: This is an edited version of a post previously published to “Paul Sofranko’s Blog”

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. For this reason, he is considered a patron saint of addicts.

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.

I have also blogged about him before, numerous times (he has become my favorite saint.) Read more of my stuff about him here: St. Maximilian Kolbe post archives.

There is a special group of links for St. Maximilian Kolbe and his Militia of the Immaculata in the sidebar.
But for starters:

Militia of the Immaculata in the USA
The global Militia
“Niepokalanow”
another official Niepokalanow site

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"