Fatima Apparition of July 13, 1917 and Praying for Peace

The third Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three little shepherd children occurred on July 13, 1917. In this appearance, Our Lady asked that the seers pray the Rosary every day for world peace and for a “end to the war.” World War I was raging at the time.

This call to pray the Rosary for world peace is just as urgent now as it was in 1917, perhaps even more so. Considering the continued existence of nuclear weapons, terror threats and the increasing persecution of Christians world-wide (but especially in Africa and the Middle East/Southwest Asia), we need to use all of the spiritual weapons at our disposal to combat the evil spreading about the world.

The oldest of the three seers, Lucia, asked her as to who she was. Mary replied that she will identify herself in October, and also will provide a miracle so that all will believe.

It was also during this Apparition that Our Lady provided the seers with a vision of Hell. I’ll refrain from writing about that, this year. I do have to spread things out as I have three more years (God-willing) in which to work on these Fatima posts. I have to save some things for later. ;-)

For those of you who recite the Rosary, it was also during this Apparition that Mary requested that the phrase “Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy” be added to the end of each decade of the Rosary.

So, that is it for this month’s post on the Fatima Apparitions. As I have said before, 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 within a week or so of the 13th, I shall post something on Fatima through the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions in 2017.

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"

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Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today is the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Traditionally linked with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is a devotion to Mary’s interior life, as exemplified by the passage from Luke 2:19,

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

via Catholic Public Domain Version of the Sacred Bible.

In Twelve Step programs, we are reminded that we cannot hope to always work the program perfectly, that we should focus on “spiritual progress, not perfection.” Mary, however, was our race’s greatest triumph, and due to her immaculate conception, was sinless. Essentially perfect. Although we cannot hope to be just like her, we can strive to imitate her virtues and devotion to Jesus and God the Father.

If you are struggling with impurity, a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can help ease the suffering.

She can be our model in our recovery life. She can help us, inspire us, and through our recitation of the daily Rosary, be the focus of our Step 11 work. Yes, I think the Rosary is the best way to really practice Step 11 daily (in addition to whatever prayer manuals and such you may use. But you can carry a Rosary about you wherever you go. It can be recited while driving. Difficult to do that with a Bible or prayer book.

Wikipedia has a nice article on the Immaculate Heart:

Immaculate Heart of Mary – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

And so does the Catholic Encyclopedia:

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Devotion To the Heart of Mary.

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"

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Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Fatima seers

Today and tomorrow are two special days on the Catholic liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and tomorrow is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. More on the latter in a subsequent post.

Recently I have undertaken a study of the 1917 Marian Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. While I had known the basics, I felt it necessary to delve beyond those and read more about the Apparitions. In doing so, I have found myself becoming more devoted to two of the three little shepherd children who were seers of the Apparition, Blesseds Francisco Marto and his sister, Jacinta. Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, both a few years away from becoming teenagers. They were beatified in 2000.

I have started a series of posts on Fatima, and these will continue on or about the anniversaries of each Apparition through their centenary in 2017. And so while I will be writing more about each of the two Blesseds off an on during the series, today I wish to introduce two aspects of them that I think Catholic alcoholics and addicts might find helpful in their struggle to maintain their recovery.

In reading about Fatima, I fell into a fascination with the unashamed and unabashed piety and holiness of these two young ones. While it might be relatively easy for young children of that era to be very devout and pious, before the corruption by mass media, TV, movies and radio, it was still very edifying.

Both of them, in their spiritual development during and after the Apparitions, took to two different pious acts. Francisco was always seemingly drawn to “comfort and console” Jesus; while Jacinta was more concerned with making reparations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. All of this can perhaps be better grasped if you read more on the Apparitions and the two Blesseds elsewhere (as I encourage you to do as it’s beyond the scope of any one post), or just gradually wait for the publishing of future posts on Fatima here ;-) . But in short, the basic message of the Apparitions was that the Blessed Virgin Mary exhorted the three seers (Francisco, Jacinta and their older cousin Lucia) to pray the Rosary for world peace and offer up personal sacrifices for the salvation of souls, especially those caught in grave sin, particularly sexual (although due to their age, the reference to sex was about “sins of the flesh.”) and to make reparations to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. The result in the lives of the three seers are inspirational and hopeful messages of courage and love.

They were horrified to learn that many people are damned due to certain sinful acts; their lives afterwards were marked by a sincere desire to make reparations for these acts. The Virgin Mary had revealed that people should make reparation for sins against the Sacred Heart of Jesus (heresies, sacrileges and blasphemies against the Church and the Eucharist) as well as sins against her Immaculate Heart (specifically against impure acts, in addition to Marian teachings and practices of the Church.)

And here is why I think Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto might make wonderful intercessors or even patrons for those in recovery, especially those addicted to sex and porn: based upon my readings of their lives, it often seemed that they would automatically, as if it was a part of their very nature, offer up sacrifices and make reparation for sins. Like I said up above, Francisco would be mostly concerned with “consoling” Jesus and Jacinta with making sacrifices in honor of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. With regard to Francisco and his emphasis on consoling Jesus, I would remind you that a central theme of the Venerable Matt Talbot and his “Way of recovery” is to transfer your love for your “drug of choice” onto the Sacred Heart. In other words, love Jesus and not the addiction. Not easy, but like any recovery program, a process you have to work at.

I have found it useful and fruitful to begin to call upon their help. I have yet to make it a habit, but when I remember, it seems to work. Whenever something is going on that might result in sin, be it anger or impatience or whatever, I can almost hear Blessed Francisco cautioning me to “be careful, that would hurt Jesus.” Or if I’m tempted in other ways, I can feel Blessed Jacinta warning me that it will offend Mary. “Too many people go to Hell! You mustn’t!”

And I get through it and feel stronger.

This is why I’m introducing them to you all today, given the proximity to the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A pretty good opportunity to bring them to your attention, two feast days that should be of interest to those addicts and alcoholics who struggle with the Catholic Faith, as well as impurity and other grave sins.

(In talking about this with my wife Rose, she told me that her father also had a devotion to them, ending every Rosary decade with a prayer to them. She isn’t sure offhand what the invocation is, if/when she remembers or finds out, I’ll add it in the comments.)

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"

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Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is an ancient Catholic devotion, finding its Scriptural roots in St. John the Evangelist laying his head upon the chest of Jesus during the Last Supper. He would have heard and felt His Heart beat. However, it would not be for another 1,000 years when the devotion actually developed.

The following is an excerpt from a post that I wrote last year:

The Sacred Heart is an old Catholic devotion dating back centuries. It focuses on the human nature of Jesus (the heart long being considered the center or source of human emotion). As Jesus had become human to redeem us for our sins, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus concerns the Divine Love of God for us, and our response to that is our reparation for our sins. We sin, we repent and we make reparation.

In light of this, that the Sacred Heart was chosen as a symbol of recovery is not surprising. In our recovery, we are making reparation for the sins we had committed in our addictions. And in our recovery, we accept and respond to the love God has for us. We know we messed up and abused the gifts that God gave to us. But despite all of that, He still loves us as His prodigal children and always takes us back no matter how bad our sins. As long as we repent and try to amend our lives we are on the right path.

No sin is greater than God’s ability to forgive. Our repentance has to be sincere, and we have to make a best effort at amending. But no matter how evil, we can be forgiven. No matter how often we fall, we get right back up.

via The Sacred Heart and Alcoholism.

I have blogged about it numerous time before, here is a link to the Archive of Sober Catholic posts on the Sacred Heart

Here is an excellent little overview on the history of the devotion:

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has an even more in depth article on it:

Catholic Encyclopedia on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Finally, here is a link to the Mass Readings for the Solemnity:

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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"

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Sober Catholic on YouTube

This blog now has an “expanded presence” online: a YouTube Channel! See:

Sober Catholic on YouTube.

I have not, nor am likely to in the near future, upload videos. But I have subscribed to a number of channels that might be of interest to Catholics recovering from alcoholism and other addictions. I don’t necessarily agree fully with any specifically Catholic content, but I added them as they should get a viewing. I am particularly referring to the videos by Johnny Garcia, of the now offline “Sober for Christ” website. There are a number of other videos from a Catholic perspective, but I have not viewed them all. Discern for yourself.

So, wander on over there and see what’s available and perhaps you can not only subscribe to the Sober Catholic Channel, but to many of the subscriptions I’ve added. Many involve pornography addiction, which is a much more critical and serious issue plaguing Catholics than alcoholism. This was something that I had learned to my surprise way back n 2002 and 2003 when I was searching online for resources for Catholic alcoholics.

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"

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The Fatima Apparition of June 13th and the Immaculate Heart

I am late in getting to post on the June 13, 1917 Marian Apparition at Fatima, Portugal. Last month, near the 97th Anniversary of the first one, I had mentioned that these best-known of the approved apparitions can be very beneficial to recovering Catholic alcoholics and addicts due to the emphasis on prayer, penance and reparation. You can read that post here: The Apparitions at Fatima.

The June Apparition occurred on the 13th, as Mary promised. Word had gotten out that Mary was to appear and so the three little shepherd children were not alone, a small crowd was also present. Those gathered were saying the Rosary.

Mary appeared, visible to only the children. Mary reiterated what she had requested during the May 13th Apparition, that the shepherds were to return on the 13th of each month through October, and pray much as well as to learn to read.

She also confirmed what she said in May, that two of the children will be going home to Heaven shortly (Blessed Francisco Marto and his sister Blessed Jacinta Marto.)

One other thing (and this is why it might not be bad that I’m late with this): Mary stated that the Lord wishes that there shall be a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Feast day for that is coming up on this next Saturday, June 28th. I shall have a post on that with a further explanation.

So, that is it for this month’s post on the Fatima Apparitions. Like I had said in the post linked to above, 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 Fatima through the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions in 2017.

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media

Today is my sobriety date!

Today is my sobriety date! Twelve years ago today was my last drunk. I have frequently tried to figure out the hour at which I took my last drink, but this only serves to keep fresh the memory of the last day.

I had a brief bout with sobriety before, having stopped in early February 2002, only to relapse 3 1/2 months later. I remember having two conflicting feelings simultaneously in my head, that of a euphoria over not having had a drink since February, and that of impending doom over some situation that I won’t bother explaining.

And then with these feelings, I found myself in a liquor store, and I bought a pint of cheap vodka. This was, in a perverse way, an improvement as before I would typically buy the huge 1.75 liter jugs. Sometimes two, one for each hand to keep myself balanced as I wandered to my car.

After two weeks of drinking I stopped. I duly reported my relapse at my old Home Group on May 21st, which was hard not to as I had read “How It Works” with a slurred voice. The next day I walked out of the meeting as two people showed up and said it was their first AA meeting ever. I didn’t want to participate as I felt like a hypocrite, having relapsed. I went to a liquor store, bought a liter of vodka, and that was that.

So, for what it’s worth, May 22, 2002 was my last drunk. What followed was 88 hours of zero sleep whatsoever, and hallucinations peppering the whole period.

But I emerged through it and my drinking days were over.

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"

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A return to regular AA meeting attendance

This post is overdue, but a while back I had mentioned that I was returning to regular Twelve Step meeting attendance. I delayed writing this in detail just to see if it would stick, and lo and behold, it did. So, here goes:

Why did I return? Partially due to circumstance. Although I have been sober for almost 12 years (my sobriety date is tomorrow the 22nd, actually) and have had a very good sobriety that I’ll stack up against anyone’s, my periods of “sobriety” were increasingly interrupted by periods of merely “not drinking.” In other words, the RIDs were on the rise. RID in AA parlance means “restless, irritable and discontented.” It refers to a sobriety that is troubled.

Although I was in no real danger of relapsing, at first I turned to just picking up AA’s “Big Book,” and flipped through a chapter at random. And although I have read the Big Book before, maybe twice through in its entirety, and afterwards mostly just chapters at random, this chapter seemed different! It was like someone had rewritten it!

Upon investigation in the online recovery sites I mentioned in the post linked to above, this is not a rare happening. Others have experienced it, too. It usually means that the reader has gone through quite a bit of spiritual development and changes since the last time that chapter was read.

Well, no kidding!

Anyway, so I figured I’ll try face-to-face AA again, this time find a meeting and stick with it for a while. Luckily, I did not have to try too many meetings. This one is a good Group, and I’ve already made it my Home Group. Yes, I now have a Home Group after 10 years! It is rather large, and after the typical opening rituals and announcements they break up into four smaller groups: two beginner meetings, one covering Steps 1-3, the other focusing on Steps 4-9; a Big Book/Step Discussion meeting; and the general discussion table. I’ve been going to the Steps 1-3 beginner’s meeting, as I feel the need to get back to the basics.

I am only attending one meeting a week, and at 52 meetings a year this means a 5200% increase in my annual attendance. (For those bad at math, since 2004 I’ve averaged one meeting a year, except for the period around my Mom’s death in late 2005.) It is a Thursday night closed group for men. I had long thought of attending this particular one, and so I finally used this as an excuse to try it. I liked it, and now feel I probably should have tried it years ago. My experience with it is somewhat different from my original AA experience, where I sobered up from 2002-2004.

By no means does this discount anything I have written during these past seven years on Sober Catholic regarding the effectivess and worthiness of Catholic spirituality, sacramental life and devotions in maintaining one’s sobriety. As I had inferred, I have been attending on average one AA meeting a year for nine years, thereabouts. My Catholic Faith had kept my head together during all this time.

But perhaps the scalpel-like precision and focus that AA can bring to certain issues that alcohol served as a crutch for in the past was needed. I feel no need to attend more than this meeting; it is enough.

Maybe my Catholic Faith is not an issue, perhaps it is me. Maybe I haven’t “progressed spiritually” enough in the Faith to feel the full healing power of the Sacraments and the graces from Jesus, the Divine Healer. I truly do feel that ideally, religion alone can fully heal one of addictions. If the sacraments are life-giving, and all Masses are “healing Masses” (which is true, when you think of it) and the power of the Word of God to transform your life is possible, then perhaps my return to AA is more a weakness of mine, and not of the Faith.

No matter. Perhaps it isn’t any of those. Maybe I’m supposed to return for other reasons. Time will tell. But for now, I’m back in AA, at least on Thursday nights and in my daily morning meditations.

The focus of this blog won’t change. Catholicism will still be the primary inspiration. But there may be an uptick the the references to Twelve Step spirituality and AA.

Please feel free to offer thoughts and opinions in the comments…

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"

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Venerable Alfred Pampalon, a Patron of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts

Last Sunday when my wife and I were in Eucharistic Adoration she found some literature about a Venerable I had never heard of, one Alfred Pampalon. The little novena pamphlet and informational brochure labelled him as a “Patron of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts.”

There was nothing whatsoever in the literature to indicate as to why he might be considered a patron of us alcoholics and addicts save for some anonymous testimonials regarding miraculous cure of addictions.

There is nothing wrong with this, you can pray for the intercession of anyone that you think might be in Heaven, and for any reason. But I like to think that if someone is going to be the patron saint of something, then their life on Earth should be connected to it in some manner. Therefore, in my opinion, the Venerable Matt Talbot is still our guy. Matt was an alcoholic, and lived a Catholic spirituality that foreshadowed the Twelve Steps decades before they were ever conceived. St. Maximilian Kolbe is often considered to be a patron of addicts, and I agree; although he was not an addict or an alcoholic, he was executed at Auschwitz by a lethal injection. (St. Maximilian is a patron of mine, I am a member of his “Militia of the Immaculata,” links for him and the MI are in a linkroll on the left sidebar. I have also blogged before on him, just visit “St. Maximilian Kolbe” in the Post Category drop down menu over on the right.)

By no means am I disregarding the Venerable Alfred Pampalon; we alcoholics and addicts can use every means at our disposal to help us keep clean and sober. If the anonymous testimonials are true, then he is indeed a powerful intercessor for us.

The following link is to a website that contains information similar to what I read in the pamphlets, including a Novena and an intercessory prayer (it will be added to links in the sidebar):

Venerable Alfred Pampalon.

By every indication, the Venerable Alfred Pampalon is a person worthy of further study and emulation. His life was saintly, pious and holy, and we can certainly use more examples like him. So, please visit the link above, as well as do a search of your own for more information.

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"

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The Apparitions at Fatima

In 1917 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children 5 times near the town of Aljustrel, in the parish of Fatima. It is one of the best known and documented Marian Apparitions.

Mary requested of the children that they pray much, and return to the site on the 13th of the month for the next 5 months; which they did through the last epic appearance in October. August was missed on the 13th due to the seers’ being kidnapped by the authorities. Mary did appear to them on the 19th, however. Our Lady is not to be denied.

I bring this up as I have long believed that the Fatima Apparitions are important, especially in these times. But they are also important to us alcoholics and addicts as they concern prayer, reparation and admonishments against sexual sin.

The devotion to the Rosary is an obvious major development of the Fatima Apparitions, and as readers of this blog know, I regard the Rosary as a great tool for people in recovery. I even wrote a devotional book using the Rosary for alcoholics (details on ordering are at the end of each Sober Catholic post! :-) )

May 13th is the first of the 5 appearances, and this year is the 97th anniversary. Try and go to Mass, or if not possible, say the Rosary.

I do not think I have blogged about the Apparitions before, if so that is an oversight that is being corrected. I will continue with this, either here or on my other blogs (In the Land of My Exile I Praise Him… and The Four Last Things ) on or before the 13th of the month through October. Which blog depends upon the subject, at any rate I will post information here when I blog about them elsewhere.) I plan on doing this annually until 2017, the centenary of the Apparitions (God-willing).

To get you started, please visit the following links, the first two are from the official Fatima site in Portugal (they’re in English, but also other languages); the latter two are from the EWTN site.

History of the Apparition.

The Message of Fatima.

FATIMA at EWTN.

FATIMA – The Apparitions (on EWTN).

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"

Get inspiration delivered to your mailbox! Click here for details: Lighthouse Catholic Media