St. Michael’s Lent begins today!

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

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

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

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

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am a Catholic priest.”

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

Week48IAmACatholicPriest

(Image via MI Canada)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Novena Day 1

Novena Day 2

Novena Day 3

Novena Day 4

Novena Day 5

Novena Day 6

Novena Day 7

Novena Day 8

Novena Day 9

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Random thoughts on the Blessed Sacrament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

All things work for good…

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

(Courtesy The Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version)

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

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

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

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

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

One curious phenomenon…

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

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

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

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

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

California Mystic- future saint?

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Fifteenth Sober Anniversary: Went outside to get outside (of myself)

Today I celebrated my 15th Anniversary of getting sober. I celebrated it in good sober Catholic fashion: I went to Mass, prayed a lot this morning and as it was my day off and the weather was nice spent a lot if it outdoors. I practiced gratitude for a (finally) working lawn mower by getting caught up with the lawn mowing, and “went outside to get outside” of myself by getting the garden ready for planting. The fences needed attention (posts and chicken wire fencing) and I will finish that up when I get a few new posts to replace some old ones (destined for compost pile support-duty.) I also hoed up the few weeds and other things growing where they aren’t supposed to. I will have a nice compost heap going by the end of the month.

What I wrote last year on my anniversary is interesting.

Also, today is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia

That’s all! I hope your day was good one as you Trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

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"

Books on the Fatima Apparitions and Message

The following books are excellent and are the basics on the Apparitions and the Message (there are several other worthy books written on the history of the Apparitions and placing them in an historical and religious/spiritual context, I won’t bother with them here as they may be out-of-print.) The links are to where you can purchase them from the World Apostolate of Fatima’s online giftshop. I DO NOT get a ‘cut’ of the proceeds, I’m merely posting the direct link as a convenience. You should be able to get them in most Catholic bookstores of other online shops.

Fatima In Lucia’s Own Words I (The first four memoirs of Sr. Lucia, the only seer to survive the Apparition era.)

Fatima In Lucia’s Own Words II (The last two memoirs of Sr. Lucia.)

“Calls” From The Message Of Fatima (In which Sr. Lucia answers many of the most recurring questions asked of her about the Apparitions and the Message. THIS BOOK IS INVALUABLE AS A MEANS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH. I thought I had read it previously, right after completing her memoir volumes, to my great surprise I found out that I hadn’t. I am reading it now! I am finding it an excellent primer of growing in holiness! Sr. Lucia relies heavily on Scripture, so your Biblical knowledge should improve, too!)

Fatima For Today (One of the best and most recent introductory books on the Apparitions and Message. Fr. Apostoli also covers those pesky controversies and puts them to rest. I agree with his positions.)

WAF Spiritual Guide (World Apostolate of Fatima-USA, “Spiritual Guide.” An excellent compendium of all of their pamphlets and booklets in one handy volume. A wealth of information on living the Message.)

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"

Focus on the Message of Fatima

This is a slight detour from the regular postings I do here. Last Saturday marked the 100th Anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to three shepherd children near Fatima, Portugal. I’ve written posts of varying degrees of competence here: Fatima postings.

The message of Fatima is basic: prayer, penance, reparation and conversion. In recent years the message has gotten obscured by various controversies that essentially are pointless. If you are unfamiliar with these, never mind. I never know the extent to which readers know about something I write; I assume many are reverting to the faith of their childhood or are others seeking Catholicism out of curiosity or a need to be more fulfilled spiritually. And perhaps many know more about the Faith than I. I will post links at the end of this so that you can learn more about the Apparitions. The link above on my Fatima postings is a good start, however.

The two major ones are whether or not the “Consecration of Russia” was done. The options seem to be 1) Yes. 2) Yes, but improperly. 3) Yes, but too late to be any good. 4) No, because the so called consecrations were done improperly. (I vote for number 3.)

For those of you who are new to the Fatima Apparitions, there’s been a decades-long debate as to whether or not Russia was properly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope (whoever was Pope at this or that Consecration.) The links below will give you the needed information on the whole thing. It’s not important anymore, mainly because Sr. Lucia authenticated the last Consecration and the Vatican has concluded it was done. For those hoping that Pope Francis or a future Pope will “do it right,” don’t hold your breath. The fact that it probably should have been done before World War II is essentially agreed upon by all; whether the Consecrations actually done during the war and afterwards were effective or legitimate are debated heatedly, some to the point of forming schisms.

It’s beside the point, now. Carrying on the debate is getting the Message obscured, people debate certain issues rather than live the Message. Same for the other controversy:

The “Third Secret.” What was it, and what was actually revealed to be it in 2000 the “real” secret? Like the Russia Consecration, information on that will be found when you review the links below; I’m not getting into it here. And also like the debate over the Consecration, going on about the Third Secret just gets in the way of living the Message.

So, do that. Focus on living the Message of Fatima, for in doing so you are living a life of Catholic sobriety; the ‘Way’ of Matt Talbot. Penance, prayer, conversion, reparation for sins (offering up things and making sacrifices for your sins and other people’s), modesty in attire and a close study of Sacred Scripture and Catechism. All these are essential ingredients to live a sober Catholic existence.

At this moment in time, 2017, debating and arguing about these or other controversies surrounding Fatima are just stoking people’s egos (“My side is right, and I will prove it!”) and expressions of uncharitable self-will. They have nothing to do with the reason as to why Our Lady appeared to the children with the Message she gave to them for the World to hear. And they get in the way of living the Message and spreading it to other people.

Which may be Satan’s plan.

Links to sites on Fatima:

Official Shrine in Fatima, Portugal
Vatican’s Fatima Page
EWTN’s Fatima Site
EWTN’s page on the Apparitions
EWTN’s page on the Message
Living the Message by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate
EWTN’s Page on the Consecrations
EWTN’s Page on the Secrets
World Apostolate of Fatima (Int’l)
World Apostolate of Fatima (USA)
America Needs Fatima
Marians of the Immaculate Conception Fatima Page

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"

Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto, pray for us!

We have two new saints! Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister seers of Fatima, were canonized today in Fatima, Portugal by Pope Francis. You can read more about them by clicking on the links in the previous sentence.

I awakened extra early this morning to watch the Canonization Mass Live on EWTN. Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the day when the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, appeared to three little Portuguese shepherd children from an obscure village. See Fatima posts archive on Sober Catholic.

The Message of Fatima is the message of this blog (if I may be so bold!): “Prayer, penance, conversion, reparation.” We must pray, especially the Rosary… and daily! We must do penance, for ourselves and also for other people’s impenitence (reparation). And we must work on conversion. Our own is a lifelong process. We can never say “I’m done converting! I’m as Catholic as I’m ever gonna be!” And we must never stop praying and working for the conversion of other people.

Today’s new saints did all of that, even though their lives were short. They served as perfect models in their innocence of what we should try and achieve in our adulthood sophistication.

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"