Lent 2016

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and that means Lent, that special time of the year for people who wish to grow closer to the Lord and to make tremendous strides in their spiritual progress. For us sober Catholics, we should embrace this season!

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone is willing to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
(via The Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version)

Bear in mind that taking up your Cross to follow Him could mean ending up like Him, too. Particularly in this day and age of the persecution of Christians.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have two excellent online resources. The first is their Lenten Resources page and the other is the USCCB Daily Mass Readings.

Praying Lent: an Online Ministry of Creighton University is an annual suggestion of mine for Sober Catholic readers.

Last, and certainly least, is Sober Catholic Lenten post Archives, every post I’ve ever done on Lent in nine years of blogging. I don’t know how often I’ll blog during the season, but as usual I’ll try and kick it up a few notches.

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 Relic Tour begins in the USA and Canada (UPDATED)

(NOTE: I was so excitipated over the relic tour that I messed up some links in the body of the post. The “St. Maximilian Kobe Post Archives” link should be fine, and I now include links to the news article as well tour schedule.)

I learned yesterday that a first-class relic of St. Maximilian Kolbe will be taken on a pilgrimage tour of the USA and Canada during 2016. I’m blogging about it only today as I was so excitipated I couldn’t get anything done. See: St. Maximilian Kolbe Relic Tour Begins in U.S.. The schedule is here:
Click here to see if the Tour goes near you.

To be “excitipated” means to be “so excited about something that you cannot function productively.” I made the word up. Yes, St. Maximilian Kolbe is one of my favorite saints.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is a patron saint of alcoholics and addicts. I’ve written many times about him on this blog. See the St. Maximilian Kolbe Post Archives for all the posts on him.

I am also a member of the Militia of the Immaculata, a personal conversion and evangelization apostolate he founded in 1917. He established the MI while in Rome in response to a massive anti-Catholic protest and demonstration by Freemasons.

His relics will be at a parish not very far from me. I will be able to see them on May 22nd, which is a date of much significance to me, for that is my sobriety date. It is also the feast day of St. Rita of Cascia, patron of lost causes and impossible situations.

So, one of my favorite saints, who’s a patron of addicts, will be having his relics pass right by me on my sobriety date. And I’ll be able to see them. Paulcoholic is excitipated!

St._Maximilian_with_beard-255x329

A note on “relics.” From the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center: “What is a Relic?

A relic is something connected with a saint or blessed, including a part of their body (e.g. hair or a piece of bone), their clothing, or an object that the person used or touched.

Relics are classified as 1st Class – a part of the person’s body, for example: blood, hair, or bones; 2nd Class ‑ an article touched by the person or touched directly to part of his or her body; and 3rd Class ‑ something touched indirectly to the person, that is, to a 1st or 2nd Class relic, to the tomb, etc.

It is not the kind of relic or how big it is that is important, but rather the faith and prayer that the relic occasions. By the communion of saints, it is that person who is close to us, blessing and praying for us.”

The first-class relic of St. Maximilian is hair from his beard. Since he was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz, his body was dumped in a crematorium. No remains were saved. A barber had shaved his beard in 1939 just after the Nazis invaded Poland. It was hoped a beardless face would attract less attention. (This is from the National Catholic Register article on the Tour linked to up above.)

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

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

“The Daily Pledge” online recovery community

For those of you who participate in online recovery, either to supplement your face-to-face meetings or to replace them, just a “heads up” that Hazelden’s Social Community will be shutting down near the end of the month. It is being replaced by a new online recovery community called “The Daily Pledge.” I have already changed the links in the sidebar.

If you are a member of Hazelden Social, you should be able to see the notice there. (I won’t bother with a link.)

I just joined “The Daily Pledge” and it seems at first glance to be a useful place to meet others in recovery. I was never really all that active on the Hazelden Social site; although it was useful, the site navigation was cumbersome to me. I did get the hang of it, but I never felt at ease with all the options and functions. The Daily Pledge is more “stripped down” yet retains a rich set of options for members to share.

Here is the link: The Daily Pledge. My profile: My Profile on the Daily Pledge.

I spend much more time on In the Rooms. I login several times a week, sometimes daily. You can find me over there: My profile on In the Rooms. Despite my preference for ITR, due to the massive change for Hazelden Social in moving over to TDP, I will give TDP a chance. I like what I see so far!

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"

Blessed Michael Sopocko: A Divine Mercy intercessor for alcoholics

In my study of the Divine Mercy devotion, particularly focused in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I ran across in one of the biographies of St. Faustina information concerning her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko (in Polish: Michał Sopoćko.) It is pronounced “Soh-potch-ko.”

I won’t get into a biography of him here (there’s a link later on that is a biography) but Blessed Sopocko was instrumental in guiding and advising Sr. Faustina during her life, especially in getting her to write down the messages she received from Jesus as well as other observations on her life (a spiritual journal, or diary.)

The information in particular that attracted my attention, apart from his assistance to Sr. Faustina and the Divine Mercy Message, was that in postwar Poland Fr. Sopocko was involved in a sobriety movement. I found nothing in particular as to what he did except for “In October 1947, the new academic year started at the seminary in Białystok. Father Sopoćko taught the same subjects that he had taught in Vilnius: catechetics, pedagogy, psychology, and the history of philosophy. His work at the seminary was not limited solely to teaching. He was also a confessor of the seminarians and conducted for them numerous retreats. At the same time, he also pursued pastoral, religious, social and educational activities. An important part of his activities were his educational programmes promoting sobriety in a society. From: Biography of Bl. Sopocko

I feel that since we sober (and sobering up) Catholics deeply need Divine Mercy to assist us in achieving and maintaining our sobriety, we should avail ourselves of yet another intercessor. Especially one who is closely acquainted with Divine Mercy and its Apostle. When you read his biography and do additional research on him in the Divine Mercy links in the sidebar, you can appreciate what a powerful intercessor he can be. He lived a difficult life, especially after St. Faustina died in 1938. From the Nazi invasion and occupation of Poland, to the later Soviet sequel, to the banning of the Divine Mercy Message as taught by St. Faustina for over a 20 year period, Bl. Sopocko suffered persecution. A lesson many of us can draw strength from. Although we may not suffer persecution in our work, we can ask Bl. Sopocko for the strength to persevere.

He was beatified on September 28, 2008. His feast day is February 15th.

More on Fr. Sopocko.

On the Year of Mercy and us sober Catholics: The Year of Mercy and what it means for us sober Catholics and St. Faustina and Divine Mercy.

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"

Ninth Anniversary!

Today is the ninth bloggaversary of Sober Catholic. Nine years and over 900 posts later my commitment is still there. Not that I ever think about giving it up; but once in while I wonder if it matters.

Anyway, “Happy Bloggaversary to me!” Seem like I just had one a year ago! 😉

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"

Camino de Santiago playlist on the SoberCatholic YouTube Channel

Last week I posted about The Way – the Movie starring Martin Sheen. I admit to have gotten hooked on the film (although I haven’t watched it since the posting, despite having other plans.) One reason is that I got obsessed with finding and watching Camino videos on You Tube. I spent pretty much all of last Sunday afternoon and evening watching!

Many peregrinos (pilgrims) have taken to recording videos of their camino. Some are documentaries, others just video journals. I decided to gather a few into a playlist on the Sober Catholic YouTube Channel. Go here, if you’re interested in watching any: Camino de Santiago de Compostela Playlist.

I may add more when I find them.

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 Way”

This isn’t really a movie review. I am expressing gratitude for a film. Which one? The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez.

theway

I purchased the DVD a few weeks ago and recently found the time to watch it. I can’t say enough about it… I viewed it twice in one day last week and once again today. I feel compelled to watch it again before 2015 is over, which means I’ll be up early tomorrow morning to pop it in the DVD player right after Morning Prayer.

As the movie is over 5 years old, I won’t worry about ruining it with “spoilers,” besides, I don’t think knowing what happens harms the experience of watching the film.

In short, Martin Sheen plays Tom Avery, a Ventura County, California eye doctor whose son, Daniel, played by Emilio Estevez, is travelling about the world because he has to get it out of his system. Daniel is a Ph. D candidate who decides to not finish his dissertation. He determines that the real world is more important than ivory towers. And so he goes off to China, Nepal and elsewhere.

Near the beginning of the movie, we learn that he is in France. And shortly after, Tom learns through a phone call from the French gendarmerie that Daniel was killed in a freak storm in the French Pyrenees. Tom travels to France to claim the remains and return home. Once there, he learns from the French gendarme who notified him of Daniel’s death that Daniel died while going on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. “The Camino” is a 1,000 year-old pilgrimage ending up at the Tomb of St. James the Apostle. If you do a search for that, you’ll learn much more than I can tell you here; clicking on the movie link in the first paragraph is a good start.

After Tom learns of Daniel’s pilgrimage and goes through the gear that was found on his body, he impulsively decides to finish Daniel’s journey. This is not something that one “just decides to do,” for the Camino is about 500 miles long and training is usually required. Tom is over 60. Did I mention that you have to walk it? (But this is a movie, after all… but… perhaps there is a lesson here?)

And so Tom takes Daniel’s gear as well as Daniel (his body was cremated), and starts.

Tom begins the journey and meets numerous people along the Way. Although consumed by his son’s death and the accompanying grief, he reluctantly gathers three companions for the trip. Joost from Amsterdam is the first, and he is doing the Camino to lose weight. His wife no longer wants to be “intimate” with him and he’s had warnings from his doctor. Sarah from Canada is next, she says that she’s doing the Camino to quit smoking. (There’s another reason, which I won’t disclose.) Finally joining the group is Jack from Ireland. He’s a travel writer who is afflicted with writer’s block. He’s there to write a book on the Camino (interviewing pilgrims) and get “unblocked.”

And then stuff happens, 😉 finishing with their arrival at St. James’ Cathedral. (Do they know how to build Cathedrals, or what???)

It is a deceptively simple movie; seeing it several times so quickly keeps me “in it” and enables me to pick out certain things I otherwise would have missed. In other words, the movie remains fresh and seeing it again so soon helps me to add layers of comprehension. It is also not a typical film, very character- and idea-driven, unlike most Hollywood movies.

I now have a tremendous desire to go on Camino, although I doubt it will happen due to physical and financial issues. Bursitis in my arms, arthritis in my shoulders and feet (the feet also have bone spurs/calcified deposits – complications from old sprains) hinder me.

Why did I say that “I am expressing gratitude for” the film? Going “on Camino” is a basic theme of my recovery; “trudging the road of happy destiny” is an AA phrase for a journey for personal recovery (namely, “life.”) I am “here,” I need to go “there,” and going through whatever is in the way is my path. I am a firm believer that the journey is a part of the destination. A journey, or passage, is a symbol for me of conversion and transformation.

This is why the film “spoke to me,” and why I have these compulsions to watch it repeatedly. It’ll pass, it’s not like I’ll be obsessed with it and will end up watching it 500 times (well, maybe over a thirty-year span…) Right now it’s a new discovery that I’m going to enjoy in the near future and many times beyond.

“The Way” is undoubtedly now one of my favorite movies (the list includes “Casablanca.”)

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"

Remember the lonely and the lost…

Today is Christmas, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. For many people it is a happy day, a time for family gatherings with lots of food and gifts and good times with memories to last.

For others, not so much.

Remember those who are lost today. Those who are lonely, have no family, or if they do, are estranged from them. Those who wander about with no hope.

Remember those who are homeless.

Remember those who are jobless and have to endure the humiliation of that state when they gather with family. Being unemployed anytime is horrible enough, but around the holidays it can be particularly embarrassing and humiliating. The personal degradation that you feel while among family members and they know you are out of work. They look at you, speak to you…

Remember those who have to work today…

Remember those who are just going through a rough time; a time of transition and change. The worst Christmas I ever had was ten years ago, Christmas Day 2005. My Mom had died in early November and just before Christmas the executor of her estate informed me that I had to get out of the house (I had been living with Mom for the previous ten years) so the estate can move forward with the sale. I suppose that if I had thought about it at the time I might have coped better, being forced to move might have made me meditate and ponder on the homelessness and wanderings of the Holy Family as they were on the move for the census mandated by the Emperor. Not to put my situation on a par with theirs at all, but the issue could have been handled with far more compassion.

But the executor had little use for compassion and understanding as they are merely baggage that reminds one of your own humanity.

And so after being told that I had to leave within thirty days, I drove about the county in a suicidal mood. The roads were icy and snowy and I was seeking out an appropriate place to ditch the car with me in it in a fatal accident. The “eviction” was the last straw; having been a punching bag for the executor and held with cold indifference by certain other family members was enough. This nearly broke me. I did have the presence of mind to call my priest who “just happened to know someone” who might have an apartment to rent. He did, and so I spent Christmas Day 2005 moving, hauling carload after carload of possessions across town. Alone, just me, as there was no one available to assist.

I knew “aloneness.”

I apologize for the downer post on Christmas, but perhaps you can spend a few moments thinking about those who are spending Christmas in a situation not at all similar to a warm and rosy holiday setting. Offer something up to help them cope.

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"

Try and make amends before it’s too late

I blogged earlier today on The Four Last Things about an online friend’s sudden death.

I won’t reiterate here what I said there, so please read that post. But given the nature of Sober Catholic, I will offer an exhortation to those who have yet to make amends to people they need to (or have to). Do so, for the time will come when they will die and the opportunity will be lost.

I understand perfectly well the resistance to approaching people and trying to make up for the damage done while drinking or drugging. Sometimes it is not possible as trying to will only do more harm than good. Use your conscience or speak with a sponsor or bring it up at a meeting, if needed.

But at least consider the possibility that they person may not be around when you finally decide to repair the relationship.

NOTE: In case you didn’t read the post on the Four Last Things, the lady who died wasn’t someone with whom I needed to make an amends. Her death was sudden, and that is what prompted these 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"

Yesterday was New Year’s Day…

…on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It was the First Sunday of Advent.

As with every New Year, this is an opportunity to “start over” and improve yourself. Assess your life, see where it’s been and how it’s going and make adjustments. Given the healing nature of the Church, from the Eucharist and the Sacrement of Confession, to opportunities to become closer to Jesus through Adoration, I would say that we sober Catholics ought to give greater importance to the Church’s New Year than to the secular one as a means of “renewal.”

This year seems to be offering a lot for that. There is Pope Francis’ initiative of Jubilee Year of Mercy. I raised the importance of this and how we can make use of it here: The Year of Mercy and what it means for us sober Catholics.

I also wrote earlier about how we should all delve into the Diary of St. Faustina, “Divine Mercy in My Soul;” please see: St. Faustina and Divine Mercy. I continually find great spiritual riches in her writings. It is much like diving into a deep ocean of mystical waters, each time I feel more “clean” and better about my relationship with the Lord. The Diary also gives me confidence to deal with many issues plaguing society today. The World is still scary, but I can cope with it after reading the Diary.

Advent is upon us. Make room for Jesus; He is coming. Take advantage of the spiritual and especially the sacramental resources available. Try attending Mass more often, (not just on Sundays.) GO TO CONFESSION! You’re a sinner (me, too. We all are.)

Have a great Advent…

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"