Fatima and Prayer

The Fatima Apparition that was to happen on August 13th was delayed by political subterfuge. As I said last year, Our Lady wasn’t to be defeated by a political hack.

Along with the repeated request to return on the 13th of next month and to continue to pray the Rosary, Our Lady exhorted the seers to pray for souls, as many have no one to pray for them. As a consequence, many perish in damnation.

Praying for other people is one of the great works of mercy that we can do. Many people scoff at prayer, typically these people either never tried it, or did but didn’t get whatever it was they wanted and sadly concluded that it doesn’t work. (It does, but sometimes the answer is “No.”) Prayer is the uplifting of the heart and mind to God, and at what better time can we ask His intercession for people we know? How prayer works is somewhat of a mystery. As God already knows what we desire, there would seem to be little reason to tell Him. However, prayer may work for us as it reminds us of Who we are dependent on. In praying for others, we become aware that we are not in this for ourselves, we are “our brother’s keeper,” and prayer may bring unknown graces upon others, giving them strength to persevere when they themselves didn’t think to ask..

Perhaps like when you found that added, needed strength to begin recovery.

Prayer is central to the Fatima Message, it is key to the success of why Our Lady appeared.

As I have said previously, I plan on blogging about these Apparitions in hopes that Catholics in recovery can find some additional tools to pack in their spiritual toolkit for fighting addictions. Every month from May through October, on or about the 13th, I shall post something on that month’s Apparition through the 100th Anniversary in 2017. Initially I’ll be very basic, but when the anniversaries approach again up through 2017, I hope to delve deeper. I am still beginning my journey of exploring the spiritual wealth of Fatima, and the more I read, the more I am coming to regard Fatima as an essential devotion to any Catholic in recovery from addictions. Next year’s posts should be more detailed.

You can keep up with Sober Catholic’s blogging on Fatima at this link: All the Fatima Posts.

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"

Quick post on Fatima

I am over a month late with this post, on the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal on July 13, 1917. Last year I started a series of posts on the Apparitions, to be done on or about the anniversary dates of each and ending on the centenary in 2017. I am doing this because the Fatima message of prayer, penance and conversion is very important to all Catholics nowadays, as well as being very useful to those Catholics trying to maintain a clean and sober life.

In reviewing the information on this particular Apparition, this post will be very brief and not too informative, mainly because there were a few, oh…. shall we say…interesting events that happened during it and I will hold on them until 2016 and 2017. These events are controversial and I’d just as assume wait. (Sometimes I think I should have waited until this year to begin this series. But, no matter. If it gets you to reading up and studying the Fatima Message if you might not have otherwise, all the better!)

The less controversial parts of this apparition was the seers inquiring about certain people, making intercession for a number of the local villagers and their families. What is interesting is that these children had direct access to the Blessed Mother and got immediate responses to their petitions. Would that we always had that grace! Some prayers were answered, others…not.

You can get caught up here with All the Fatima Posts.

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"

Daily Adoration

In the post Abiding in Jesus, I mentioned the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. The Gospel reading that inspired the post gives me a good excuse to relate something that I’ve been doing since July 1st.

Every day I stop off at my local parish and spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. My intention is fifteen minutes in the morning en route to work, but I haven’t quite gotten the discipline down yet of leaving sufficiently early, so I wind up doing about five. If I leave for work with not enough time, then I just spend the fifteen minutes on the way home.

I am not saying this to brag, or to declare that I am “holier than thou,” I do it for myself and for the world. (“Not bragging?”)

For myself, as I feel called to “kick it up a notch” spiritually and one excellent way to do this is to bask for a while, even if for just a short time, in the Presence of Jesus. There are also the usual trials and tribulations that life brings, all the crosses that we have to bear if we are truly be called the followers of Christ.

For the world, as if you have been following the news for quite a while, things are quite terrible. It seems that Satan is pulling triple shifts to tear down the Church and civilization. We all have to choose sides and take up our weapons. Or just become better equipped to cope with things.

Why July 1st? I wanted an aid in doing this and so I ransacked my bookshelves on the Holy Eucharist and found this: Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary
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From the publisher’s blurb: “Here, then,” says St. Alphonsus, “is our heaven on earth–the Most Blessed Sacrament.” This book was conceived and written to help us grow in the knowledge and love of God and in appreciation for what He has done for us. For each of the 31 days of the month, St. Alphonsus provides for us a “Visit to Our Lord”–which is a brief meditation on and a fervent prayer of love toward Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Each Visit to Our Lord is followed by a “Visit to Our Lady.”

Since there are meditations for every day of the month, I decided to start on the 1st.

After doing this for 47 days now, I can attest that I have grown “in the knowledge and love of God and in appreciation for what He has done for us.” (“Are we still sure he isn’t bragging?”)

I do feel an increased intimacy with Him. I have always grasped the Real Presence intellectually, but have found it difficult on an emotional level. This is helping with that. I suppose it is true that the more often you spend time with Someone, the more you get to know them and become closer.

The book has 31 meditations, I will be using it for those months with 31 days. For months with 30 days, I’ll be using this: Moments Divine: Before the Blessed Sacrament
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From the publisher: “This pious book is especially suited for use any time before the Blessed Sacrament. Each of the 30 chapters contain true stories, various prayers, an Act of Contrition, Sacred Heart reading, Spiritual Communion and so much more. … it will enrich any devotional collection and inspire greater love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

I have a few other little books and things to do while I’m with Him, but the above books provide the focus.

I have exhorted you all often in the past to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do this. Just for in and of itself, (like, why would you need an excuse to spend time with Our Lord?) but also as an aid in the spiritual warfare destroying 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"

Abiding in Jesus

The Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

John 6:51-58: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”

I won’t go into a long apologetics regarding John 6 as there are better defenders of the Faith than I, except to say that it is one of the Scripture passages from which the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist; His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are there, really, not symbolically. If He was speaking symbolically, then He would have chased after all those Jews and disciples of His that found the teaching “hard,” and left Him. Jesus easily could have said that He wasn’t speaking literally, that they were misunderstanding Him and should stay. But no, He knew they had difficulty with His teachings, and that they understood it perfectly but rejected Him anyway. He respected their decision and let them go. And so He truly meant that “…the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

So, when you go to Mass or Eucharistic Adoration, Jesus is there. The same Jesus that as the Second Person of the Trinity incarnated Himself as a man, wandered about Palestine preaching and teaching and healing, the same one Who died on the Cross for us all, is there on the altar in the form of bread. The same Transcendent, Immanent, Eternal God who became a man of flesh, blood and bone, has remained with us these past 2,000 years in the form of bread (and wine.)

Now, in light of that, go read the words of today’s Gospel reading again. Oh, go ahead and read the whole chapter 6 of John’s Gospel!

Try and understand that; try meditating on the Reality of His Presence in the bread and wine consecrated at Mass. He will abide in you, and you in Him.

Gives you courage, eh?

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"

Debauchery

The Second Reading from today’s Mass for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (boldface mine):

Ephesians 5:15-20 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”

We know about debauchery. Some of us more than others. St. Paul offers excellent advice on countering this: doing alternative, spiritual things such as singing hymns, reading the Psalms (always a great source of comfort) and giving thanks to God (showing “gratitude.”) How often have you been to an AA meeting and heard about gratitude? Be grateful for what you have, desire nothing more than having your needs fulfilled.

If you’ve been clean and sober for a while, and have explored the spiritual riches of the Faith, perhaps you’ve run across suggestions of doing the virtue in opposition to the vice you’re acting out. For example, practice humility to counter pride. This is what St. Paul is suggesting. Counter debauchery with holiness.

That may sound trite, but all this does serve to interrupt the thought processes leading to sin and relapse. Something has to be done to stop the process.

So, read the Psalms. Break out into song! 😉 Fill your heart and soul with holiness!

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"

Fifty-four Day Rosary Novena

There is a rather dedicated but powerful novena to Our Lady called the “54 Day Rosary Novena.” There are variations on it with regard to preparatory prayers, but I typically keep it simple and just state the intentions I’m praying for followed by the saying the Rosary.

For the 54 Day Novena, you say 3 nine day Rosary novenas in a row in petition for something (this takes 27 days), folowed by 3 nine day Rosary novenas in a row in thanksgiving for the answer (this takes another 27 days, totalling the 54), regardless of whether or not the petition was granted. It may be granted during the 54 days, or maybe afterwards.

I bring this up because a particularly important time to do this is available. Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, if you begin the 54 day novena today, it will end on the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th. There’s got to be some amazing spiritual signifiance for these Marian days to have been placed 54 days apart!

So, begin one today, the first petition novena will end on August 23rd, start the second petition novena on August 24th, and so on.

Pray for anything. Petitions for yourself and your struggles with addiction, petitions for the world and society about you. Whatever, just break out your beads!

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”

August 15th is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and marks the beginning of an unofficial period of penance known amongst members of the Franciscan Order as “St. Michael’s Lent.” You can find out more about it here: St. Michael’s Lent.

Almost annually in August I blog about a “Second Lent,” this year due to lapses I nearly forgot. Typically, I do this prior to August 6th, when the Feast of the Transfiguration begins another “unofficial period of penance” that ends on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross on September 14th; and then a reminder for when St. Michael’s Lent begins. (It ends on September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel.)

This is one of the thigs about Catholicism I love: so many opportunities for conversion, repentance and growing closer to the Lord. If you live in the northern hemisphere, these “Lenten” periods in August may even be harder to accomplish as Summer is not very penitential. A time for vacations, relaxing as much as possible and other “fun” things.

Maybe that’s a reason these periods exist.

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: August 14, 1941

Today is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was martyred on this date in 1941 by Nazi death camp guards. His death is an heroic tale of self-sacrifice, courage and dedication to the family.

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In short, and I won’t do the story justice, but ten prisoners were selected to die because another had escaped. One of the chosen was a Polish Army sergeant named Franciszek Gajowniczek who protested that he had a wife and family. Cynical people would say that his protest was pointless as the Nazis couldn’t care less about that. But, enter Auschwitz Prisoner No. 16670, a Catholic priest named Maximilian Kolbe. He offered to go in the sergeant’s place. To the astonishment of all gathered, the Nazis agreed to the switch. You’d have thought they’d have just have added him and make eleven. But no.

Gajowniczek survived the camp and the war, and lived to give testimony to Kolbe’s heroism.

John 15:13 “No one has a greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He is a particular favorite of mine as he is considered to be a patron saint of addicts and alcoholics due to the manner of his martyrdom. I have blogged about him numerous times before: St. Maximilian Kolbe post archives. There are numerous links on him in the sidebar.

Marytown, the National Shrine of “St. Max” has a nice piece on him: Who is St. Maximilian Kolbe?

Photo courtesy of MaryPages

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 “Sober Catholic Trudge Report” will no longer be out

Several years ago when I was using Twitter more actively, I enrolled in a service called “paper.li.” It is an automated service that culls content from your Twitter feed, per your individual customizations. You can select which Twitter follower lists you have for it to cull, and other ways of determining content (I think). I thought, “This is cute, it might enhance the Twitter experience. I have my own newspaper!” I even had a clever name for it, “The Sober Catholic Trudge Report.” “Sober Catholic,” from the name of this blog and Twitter account, and “Trudge Report,” from the AA phrase “trudging the road to happy destiny” as well as a clever play on a popular news aggregate site.

It ended up being responsible for maybe 90+% of my Tweets, with blogposts another ~9% and actual original Tweets 1%. I decided long ago that Twitter wasn’t worth the hassle. I mean, 140 characters? What can you say with that? Mostly good for links and quick hit-and-run posts…

I discontinued the service today when I discovered it was irritating a Twitter user and follower of my @sobercatholic Twitter account. She, for her own reasons, didn’t like the service picking up her Tweets and adding them to the paper’s feed. Why, I don’t know, as Twitter is primarily for promotion, but for whatever reasons valid and appropriate for her, she didn’t want it and kept repeatedly asking me to stop. Unfortunately, I rarely use Twitter, don’t check my feed much at all, and so wasn’t aware of it until I just happened to login today and find out her consternation.

I decided that despite frequent retweets of the Trudge Report’s tweets by a number of people who appreciated it, it isn’t worth it. The lady’s irritation with me was compounded by the fact that my Twitter account is ignored by me, and for that reason I should have more control over what goes out over it. If I rarely use it, then an automated service shouldn’t either.

I do feel bad that she was irritated, and wish that I had noticed her requests sooner. I’m not sure how I could have eliminated her tweets from being picked up as I think I only logged in to customize paper.li twice since signing up, and so am not familiar with the full range of its functions. So, even if there was a way to just block her tweets from the Trudge Report’s feed, I’m not going to bother. Too late anyway as I’ve already deleted the account. Even in doing that, I had a heckuva time!

I am not going to identify her Twitter account in this post, but I do hope she somehow finds out about my sorrow over her irritation with me and that I meant no harm. It was just carelessness on my part due to my inattention to a social media account. (She has blocked me, and so won’t see anymore @sobercatholic tweets.)

This is, however, a development in the reassessment of my social media use I’ve done over the past few months. I’ll blog about that later. This is the longest I’ve had to deal with Twitter in Who knows how long, so I’m going outside. (A coincidence? I learned about this lady’s irritation with me only because I decided to use Twitter for an original tweet, “Going outside to get outside.” It’s a nice day out there and I wanted to go out and putter around. For no apparent reason I decided Twitter was the place to announce that, as if the world cares. 😉 )

Although I seriously doubt that anyone should be upset with my decision to terminate the Trudge Report, if anyone is, please get over it. It is no big deal, I didn’t read it myself and rarely thought of it. It was all automated, and I put no effort into it apart from logging in once or twice over the years and customizing the feed. I might have been able to just prevent it from picking up her tweets, but I didn’t care enough to find out how to do that. In a way, she did me a favor as I will take a look at my social media use overall, and consider what else is irrelevant. Today I deleted a twitter service responsible for most of my Tweets, I’ve also laregely ceased using Google Plus (I decided on that a few months ago.)

I’d better stop as I’m getting into that post I said I was going to write later…

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"

Prayer to be Merciful

There is a prayer that I have said off and on over the years, but this past month I have “taken it to heart” and have said it with more devotion. It is “St. Faustina’s Prayer to be Merciful”.

This is the abbreviated version on the prayer card that I use:

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ soul…

Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs…

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor…

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbor…

Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor…

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.

May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.

The full version, taken from St. Faustina’s diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” can be found here: St. Faustina’s Prayer to be Merciful. Otherwise, if you have a copy of her Diary, it’s in paragraph number 163.

I have found it to be a very fruitful prayer, a good way to practice the Works of Mercy in a small way, and at least to open oneself up to the task of doing them. The prayer can even merely be a petition to deal with others in a more Christ-like way.

The line: May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me, has become a short aspiration that I say throughout the day, particularly before having to do something or deal with a person. It’s a good aspiration to quickly say on a job. 😉

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"