Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness

In this excerpt from the Gospel reading from today’s Mass for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time we read:

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

Source: EWTN: Catholic Mass, Daily Mass, Catholic Mass Readings, Catholic Mass Online

This is one of those “God incidences,” in that I had been dwelling on this passage from Matthew for several days last week, without realizing that it would be in the upcoming Sunday Gospel! Seriously, coming unbidden from the depths of my inner being, from which all sorts of good and… other things… occasionally spring up, bubbled up this passage. It is one of my favorites, despite my wrestling with what it actually means from time to time.

In “seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness,” I think we realize a tremendous need to TRUST in the Lord, trust in His Mercy and Providence. This isn’t easy. Quite often there is a chasm between where we are and were we should be in our relationship with Him, especially in the area of material needs and wants.

Narrowing the gap of this chasm, to where we are at that point when we can jump across without a perceived safety net is the goal of a spiritual life. Developing such an intimate, trusting relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that we know He will take care of us in our needs. Sometimes giving us just enough, but always giving us our daily bread.

How to do this? That’s a toughie. It takes time to develop this relationship and this trust. But I think there is a sort of common sense aspect, especially if we read the rest of the Gospel passage; which you can find at the end of this old but very relevant Sober Catholic post: Just Enough.

God knows what we need. Asking for things for ourselves and others is nice, especially as doing so reminds us of Who’s in charge. But still, He knows what we need before even we do. Therefore, I think that our primary task is to “Seek first the Kingdom…” and all else will be provided for.

And what does “Seek first the Kingdom…” actually mean? You men, after all these years of pondering I am finally going to come up with a definitive answer?

Maybe, maybe not. “Seeking” is a process and this may be one of those things you dwell on and over the course of time it grows in meaning for you.

But this is what I’ve got, today. In “seeking first” we yearn for Heaven, our True Home and we order our lives so that we can get there. Prayer, partaking of the Sacraments, especially Mass and Confession, spiritual development in ridding oneself of character defects (making oneself more pleasing to the Lord), learning more about the Catholic Faith and applying what you learn to your life. We build up the kingdom of God within us, become more Christ-like and Mary-like. We live by the moral and social teachings of the Church. We live by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46 (sheep and goats “Final Judgment parable.”)

We seek His righteousness and we seek to establish that on Earth (that pesky social and moral…).

In return, the positive effects of this might lead to a greater intimacy and friendship with God and the workings of Divine Providence becoming manifest in your life. But probably “Just Enough.” 😉

You don’t worry about all those other things in the Gospel reading (food, clothing…) They will be provided for, in some way. You might have to learn how to look for them, but He will provide.

Personally, I’m depending on “Seeking first…” to help unravel some very knotty problems in life that I do not see a way out of with massive Divine Intervention. But, He knows what they are, I will will trust in Him to solve them.

His Will, not mine, be done.

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"

Take up the cross, and follow me

The Gospel reading for today’s Mass for the Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time is an appropriate one for a Friday, given the day’s significance as the day Jesus suffered and died.

Mark 8:34-37 “And calling together the crowd with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone chooses to follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

For whoever will have chosen to save his life, will lose it. But whoever will have lost his life, for my sake and for the Gospel, shall save it. For how does it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world, and yet causes harm to his soul?

Or, what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

(Via Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version)

A key line in the Gospel excerpt, “If anyone chooses to follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” is the crux of recovery with a Catholic perspective. In drinking and drugging, or even just making daily choices and preferring our will to His, we refuse the Cross.

Taking up the Cross is in opposition to our own selfish desires as expressed in our self-will. Our instinct for self-preservation insists that we pick “self” first; the pain of the Cross goes against this. And part of the “contradiction of the Cross” is that we reject the self, we “deny ourselves” in order to be saved. In denying ourselves, we have to trust in Jesus.

And so we make a choice. We choose to follow Jesus, “The Way, the Truth and the Life,” deny ourselves and reject addiction. This becomes a cross as we naturally suffer without our addiction. (That we were suffering with it is obvious, but we typically focus on how it “helped” us cope.) We are denying our preferences, our “crutches” and our need to fulfill our base desires. Our mind and body scream, “Give us the drink!” But we reply, “No.”

And so we follow Him: Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician. In choosing to save our life through Christ, we lose the old one. It was nailed to the Cross. We live now by the Gospel and if we persevere to the End will find ourselves reigning with Him and the saints for all eternity.

There is a trade-off. In keeping our addictions, we “gain the world,” or at least our fantasized version of it. But we lose our soul. We do not become the person God made us to be. That one is buried in the addiction. The other trade-off is clear: giving up the addiction we recover who we were meant to be.

This better “trade-off,” that of denying yourself and becoming a disciple of Christ, is essentially the method Matt Talbot chose. If you are a regular reader of SoberCatholic, you know who he is. If not, a short bio tells that he was an Irish drunk who tried several times to become sober after running out of money to buy himself liquor. His friends, for whom he loaned money for booze in the past, didn’t help him. Shocked at this betrayal of alcoholic solidarity and brotherhood Matt tried the “pledge” which worked for a while. He found continued sobriety only after he transferred his love for the drink onto Jesus. Matt lived a life of piety and devotion. He died sober. His Cause for Canonization is open and they’re just waiting on the requisite miracles. There are links in the sidebar to help you learn more; the best one is The Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center.

Matt gave up the drink in exchange for his soul.

What will you give in exchange for your soul? That’s a daunting question. And not an easy one to answer for most people. It is the question that starts the conversion process. Even if you were not consciously aware of it, when you began your conversion process upon attaining sobriety you started to answer that question. And you continue to answer it every day you are sober and continue to learn and live your Catholic Faith.

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 ‘Nineveh 90’ Challenge is almost here! You in?

It’s almost here! One of the toughest spiritual challenges you might be facing outside of rigorous Lenten mortifications! And it begins next Monday the 13th of February! What is it, you ask? “We Sober Catholic readers are all about tough spiritual challenges! Tell us, Paulcoholic!!!”

It’s the “Nineveh 90 Challenge,” of course! I blogged about it before: Spiritual prepping for Fatima and 2017. That post has been updated a few times, please see it again if you were unawares.

Father Richard Heilman has a wealth of resources on his Roman Catholic Man website as well as the “go to” place: “Nineveh90” to assist you in your quest. If you’re on Facebook, there’s also a Group focusing on the Challenge: Special Forces Training. Members are posting links to other FB Groups that focus on regional meetups and the like.

If you are interested in doing this, please look at the above links for thorough information. I’m giving a “last-minute” heads up so that you can do whatever prayer and prepping you need to do before Monday.

I won’t be doing a few of the items on the ‘Ten Elements of the Challenge,’ namely the ‘rigorous exercise’ and the 33-day Consecration. Nor will I join the Angelic Warfare Confraternity (I’ll step up my resolve to say the “Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel.”) A number of things I already do as a part of my daily prayer life. There’s a link to the AWC in my sidebar under “Porn Addiction Links.”

The fact that this overlaps Lent is of great significance!

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 Book for those Affected by Addiction

The Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center recently posted a reminder as to the availability of a A Free Pocket Prayer Book.

It is an initiative of the Irish Bishops. For the background, please see: Address by Bishop Noel Treanor.

I got mine! The link for the download is in the VMTRC post. Get yours!

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"

Praying for our Church

NOTE: Originally posted in slighly different form in my “other” blog, In Exile, I think it would be of interest to Sober Catholic readers:

It is safe to say is that the Church needs prayers. It always does in every century of Her existence for 21 centuries now. But nowadays people are thinking and talking in apocalyptic tones, even myself with some recent posts here about 2017 and its “interestingness;” (see also Nineveh90. Divisions seem to getting more strident and people are forgetting charity.

The purpose of this blog is, as you now know, how the Catholic Church in her sacraments and prayer life can be of use to people in their addiction struggles. Therefore, we should always prayer for Her.

I found a prayer card tucked into a prayer book and figured it would be online somewhere. It is a “Litany for the Church.” A friend of mine told me its original intent was for the restoration of the Latin Mass. Well, that worked out so it is effective! Here it is:

LITANY FOR THE CHURCH
IN OUR TIME

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, Divine Founder of the Church, hear us.

Christ, Who didst warn of false prophets,
graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us.

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church,
pray for us.

St. Michael, Defender in Battle,
pray for us.

St. Peter, the Rock upon which Christ built His Church,
pray for us.

St. Paul, Protector of the Faithful Remnant,
pray for us.

St. Francis of Assisi, Re-builder of the Church,
pray for us.

St. Anthony, Hammer of Heretics,
pray for us.

St. Pius V,
Restorer of the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy,
pray for us.

St. Pius X, Foe of Modernism,
pray for us.

All ye Holy Angels and Archangels,
pray that we may resist the snares of the Devil.

St. Catherine of Siena,
pray that Christ’s Vicar
may oppose the spirit of the world.

St. John Fisher,
pray that bishops may have
the courage to combat heresy and irreverence.

St, Francis Xavier,
pray that zeal for souls
may be re-enkindled in the clergy.

St. Charles Borromeo,
pray that seminaries
may be protected from false teachings.

St. Vincent de Paul,
pray that seminarians may return
to a life of prayer and meditation.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus,
pray that religious may rediscover
their vocation of love and sacrifice.

St. Thomas More,
pray that the laity
may not succumb to the Great Apostasy.

St. Francis de Sales,
pray that the Catholic press
may again become a vehicle of Truth.

St. John Bosco,
pray that our children may be protected
from immoral and heretical instruction.

St. Pascal,
pray that profound reverence
for the Most Blessed Sacrament may be restored.

St. Dominic,
pray that we may ever treasure the Holy Rosary.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

Jesus, our God,
in these dark hours when Thy Mystical Body
is undergoing its own Crucifixion,
and when it would almost seem to be abandoned
by God the Father,
have mercy, we beg of Thee,
on Thy suffering Church.
Send down upon us the Divine Consoler,
to enlighten our minds and strengthen our wills.

Thou, O Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity,
Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived,
have promised to be with Thy Church
until the end of time.
Give us a mighty Faith
that we may not falter;
help us to do Thy Holy Will always,
especially during these hours
of grief and uncertainty.
May Thy Most Sacred Heart
and the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart
of Thy Holy Mother be our sure refuge
in time and in eternity.

Amen.

I found it here: Catholic Doors

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 prepping for Fatima and 2017 UPDATED (AGAIN!)

NOTE: Post updated AGAIN with a corrected link and additional items.

Calling Catholic men (and ladies, too!)

Fr. Richard Heilman of the Roman Catholic Man site has a challenge for you!

Quote: “Inspired by the excellent program, “Exodus 90,” and all of the research that reveals it takes 90 days to replace bad habits (even addictions) with good habits, I am calling upon all of us to enter into a 90 day period of humility and transformation I call “Nineveh 90,” leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2017.

Nineveh 90 is all about freedom. The goal is to achieve the freedom necessary to fully engage the love of God and the love of neighbor. Nineveh 90 is based on a challenging 90-day period of purification, a dying to self, which is supported by fellow soldiers in Christ for greater interior freedom and, eventually, a more purified and selfless love.”

Found here: Nineveh90 and the 100th Anniversary of Fatima

UPDATE: The plan now has its own site, see Nineveh90

The challenge begins February 13, 2017. I am considering doing this, with some personal modifications. I already do a number of the things listed. I may not bother with Items 9 and 10 (33 Days prep for Consecration and the actual Consecration) as I’ve already done that with my wife in 2008; also, I’m a member of the Militia of the Immaculata of St. Maximilian Kolbe, through which I consecrated myself to Mary on 7 Oct 2002. As an MI I renew my consecration daily, so I think that’s covered. I can perhaps substitute something else, such as studying St. Max’s writings and MI literature or Fatima books (both of which I have oodles of). I probably won’t do Item 5 (joining the Angelic Warfare Confraternity) as I may not be able to fulfill some of the requirements (logistics).

The basis for this lies in Fr. Heilman’s first paragraph: “We have now entered the 100th year since Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal. The anniversary is May 13, 2017. Many people are wondering if God may do (or allow) something soon to “shake us up” (I wrote about it HERE – this is the most “shared” article I have ever written).”

Please read the article linked to with the word “HERE” in the previous paragraph. That explains more about the basis for this challenge and the need to become “Spiritual Preppers” soon. I’ve also hinted at year’s end that 2017 might be “interesting.” The roots of Western Civilization are becoming poisoned, the branches are cracking and things might becoming rougher for Christians, especially Catholics. This “Nineveh90” just might assist with your prepping…

Speaking of “prepping,” there’s this: PREPARING FOR NINEVEH 90.

Additional note, Fr. Heilman named St. Maximilian Kolbe as the patron saint of the Nineveh90! See: ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE – PATRON OF LAST DAYS BEFORE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF FATIMA

There are additional posts at both the Nineveh90 and Roman Catholic Man sites
on the effort. Read them! Keep informed!

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"

Sober Catholic’s TENTH Bloggaversary!

It was ten years ago today that I published my first post on Sober Catholic, “Hi, I’m Paul, and I’m and Alcoholic!”

Nothing much else to say except I never really thought I’d still be doing this. My hopes and dreams regarding this were to hopefully reach out to those who were searching for some online alcoholism recovery work with a Catholic touch. Perhaps they were en route to leaving the Faith and were grasping for anything that might interest them in staying. Or maybe they left for any on a host of reasons, but read in Twelve Step literature advice about exploring the religion of their youth. Perhaps a community of “sober Catholics” or some such name might grow up around it. That hasn’t really happened, but that failure hasn’t convinced me to stop blogging here.

Ten years. Nearly 100 posts a year (which seems like a lot.)

I have no plans to stop: I’ll continue this until the Lord convinces me it’s time to logoff for good.

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 Three Hail Marys (UPDATED)

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar.

The dogma of her divine motherhood was proclaimed at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. That she is the “Mother of God” may seem obvious as she gave birth to Jesus, Who is God, and therefore making her His Mother; and so we get, “Mother of God.” However, as we humans tend to complicate things in strange ways a Council was called to define her in this manner, as it also settled numerous raging controversies and heresies concerning the nature of Jesus. I won’t go into them here as it’s beyond the scope of this blog to wade into such matters.

What does this have to do with Sober Catholic? Easy! Mary is also our Mother, as we are God’s adopted sons and daughters through Jesus, that makes Mary our Mom, too!

Unlike our Earthly mothers (biological or adoptive), Mary is perfect in her maternal attitude towards us. She loves us in spite of ourselves. While obviously not condoning our sinning, she accepts our attempts to rise up again after our falls and offers us her hand to help us up. That is, if we seek her assistance. And this we can do in the following manner:

There is an ancient pious practice in the Church of saying three Hail Marys every morning and evening to preserve us from mortal sin. We have to faithfully cooperate with the graces God gives us to make this work; you cannot indulge in this practice and then go off and commit sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance. A firm purpose of amendment and a willingness to detach from sin helps.

Popularly known as “Heaven Opened by the Practice of the Three Hail Marys,” you can find complete information here: Three Hail Marys

In short, you say three Hail Marys every morning and evening followed by a prayer that she preserve you this day (or night) from mortal sin. The three Hail Marys are in honor of her privileges of being the Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son and Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. The instructions in the link in the previous paragraph indicates an Act of Consecration need be said also (it’s on the site linked to); I have other literature not requiring that daily. It’s up to you. It might be nice to say the Act the first day and then perhaps renew it periodically (Saturdays are good as they’re dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.) And some don’t mention the Act.

Try the practice of praying the Three Hail Marys morning and night!

EDIT: Here’s another link to do this (and it ties in nicely with Fatima): America Needs Fatima ‘Three Hail Marys Pledge’

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"

year end

2016 is about to end. It’s easy to insult this past year, given the violence and chaos seemingly gripping the planet by the throat. I won’t even mention the presidential campaign in the USA. However, the bulk of the year was the Jubilee Year of Mercy, of which I took advantage of and am different as a result. Mainly from increased devotion to a few saints which has wrought a transformation within me, and greater appreciation of Divine Mercy and Providence.

2017 arrives in just a few hours. I feel it will offer “Something Interesting” but will refrain from explaining. 😉 It will be an important year in a number of ways, namely the 100th Anniversaries of the Marian Apparitions at Fatima and the founding of the Militia of the Immaculata by St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. I will be blogging on both in 2017.

Next week, on January 5th, is the 10th Anniversary of this blog.

Happy New Year!

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"

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"