St. Rita of Cascia, patroness of lost causes

I always found it to be a sign of Divine Providence, or maybe evidence of a Divine Sense of Humor, that today, my sobriety date, is also the Feast Day of St. Rita of Cascia. She is known as the patron saint of lost causes, of which I think I was nearly one. My early recovery was marked by a lot of drinking. Yes, I know that’s not the way to do it.

That she is known as the patroness of lost causes is due to her marriage to an abusive husband and their two sons who appeared to be following in his path. She has nothing to do with alcoholism except that a lot of us drunks and ex-drunks have been considered “lost causes” by many. The fact that she prayed for his conversion for all 18 years of marriage before finally succeeding (just before he died) is the probable reason for her patronage. Some people can be pretty intransigent.

There is a popular biography of her (the one published by TAN Books) online: “Saint Rita of Cascia: Saint of the Impossible” by Fr. Joseph Sicardo, OSA

Her entry in Wikipedia: Rita of Cascia. One really incredible thing I just learned about her from Wikipedia is that St. Rita is the unofficial patron saint of baseball! Apparently she was mentioned in the 2002 movie The Rookie. More on that here: Patron Saint of Baseball.

I’ve blogged about her before: St. Rita of Cascia post archives.

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"

Thirteen years sober

Thirteen years ago today I sobered up. I took my last drink on the evening of May 22, 2002. If I can get sober, so can you. I’ve probably mentioned this before in various “soberversary” posts and drunkalogues, but I was not exactly the poster child for early recovery. I only attended AA meetings for the first seven months of meeting attendance so I can get out of my old house and visit a liquor store. I also needed the booze to get courage for sharing at meetings. Yep, there I was, exhorting new members that “AA works if you work it!” while slurring my words and then returning to my nap on the room’s couch. I did arrive at meetings drunk. My sponsor had told me that there was some consideration given to banning me from meetings due to my behavior. Never happened as by that time I temporarily stopped going to meetings because I was physically unable to leave my house. I wound up in the hospital for 6 days with DTs and hallucinations. I returned to AA all sober, only to relapse 3 1/2 months later.

So no, I was clearly NOT a shining example of early recovery behavior. But eventually something took hold, and I stopped drinking, never really had any burning desire to drink except for the occasional, wistful wish that I could have a beer on a hot summer day now and then, or maybe red wine in the evening. But such thoughts are readily dismissed.

I do say that while AA helped in providing a basic understanding of alcoholism and much need specific tools to address “how to handle sobriety,” it is my Catholic Faith that keeps my head together. Regular readers if this blog know that. New readers can explore the post categories and learn!

Today is also the Feast day of St. Rita of Cascia. I am running late to get ready for work, so I’ll post about her tonight when I get home; but she is a appropriate saint for this soberversary day of mine as she is regarded as the “patron saint of impossible cases.”

That described me perfectly in “early sobriety.”

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"

Fatima: Prayer, Conversion and Penance

Today, May 13, 2015 is the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima. On this date 98 years ago the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three little shepherd children near Fatima, Portugal. I introduced this last year in this post: Fatima. It also contains links for your further edification as you should really, really, be interested in this Apparition of the Virgin.

As I said in that post, I plan on blogging about the Apparitions at Fatima on or about the anniversary dates of each one. The reason is that the “Message of Fatima” is an important one, and is very applicable to those struggling with addictions.

On May 12, 1982, Pope St. John Paul II gave a General Audience just before leaving on a pilgrimage to Fatima. His intent was to give thanks to the Virgin Mary, whom he felt had preserved his life after an assasination attempt one year earlier in St. Peter’s Square. He said in that General Audience, “I am going particularly as a pilgrim of brotherhood and peace to that land that the Virgin chose to launch her sorrowful appeal for prayer, conversion and penance.”

The Holy Father later stated that “I nourish the hope that this gesture of mine will serve to reawaken in believers a renewed sense of responsibility, inducing each one to question himself fairly about his consistency with the values of the Gospel.”

I was reading a compilation of speeches that Pope St. John Paul II gave on the ocassion of his 1982 pilgrimage to Fatima, compliled by the Daughters of St. Paul, entitled “Portugal: Message of Fatima,” and these quotes jumped out.

“Prayer, Conversion and Penance.” These are the core strategies for those of us struggling with alcoholism. We pray, we have an ongoing conversion, and we live penitential lives (or, we do this as best we can. Some times and years are better than others. But we carry on.).

And we must always do a “self-check” ala AA’s “Step 10″ concerning how best we live our lives according to the Gospel’s values. Do we choose the Gospel, or the World? Do we live by the divine Gospel message, or secular political or economic messages? Do we cause an injustice and refashion the Gospel so that it fits into our secular ideologies?

If you missed last year’s posts, all my Fatima posts are here: Fatima Post Archives.

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"

Rogation Days

There is a pious Catholic practice I recently became aware of, even though it is over a millennia old. It is the service of the “Rogation Days,” which takes place annually on the Feast of St. Mark (the Gospel writer) on April 25th, and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday. I missed the April 25th observance this year.

It is normally done in a church, but is rare nowadays as it was dropped from the Liturgical calendar in 1970; it is now only practiced in those parishes that celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass an its accompanying calendar (and even then, I’m not sure how common it is…)

From the “Catholic Rural Life Prayer Book,”

The word “rogation” comes from the Latin word “rogare” meaning “to ask.”
The three Rogation Days are over 1,500 years old. They began in the fifth
century at Vienne, France, when, in the year 470, there had been crop
failures–due to earthquakes and bad weather–with resulting great food
scarcity and destitution. St. Mamertus, bishop of Vienne, ordered a triduum
of prayer and penance on the three days preceding the Ascension. The clergy
and the people made penitential processions calling upon God to help and
asking the intercession of His saints.

The purpose of the Rogation Days’ service is to implore the mercy of God
that He may keep us from all evils of soul and body, and give to the plants
of the field an increase. In the spring, when the fields are becoming green
and there is promise of a good harvest–but also the possibility of
destruction through frost, hail, or rainstorms–the prayers and processions
are a reminder to feeble man to turn with humility and confidence to the
Giver of all good. For, it is not the earth alone which brings forth fruit,
and not alone the busy hand of man on which the increase depends; but it is
God who gives the increase.”

The words I emboldened give you an idea as to why I’m making it known to you. Although as a pious practice it traditionally is a fixture in rural communities, I think it can be applied for people in addiction recovery. It’s a stretch, but “to implore the mercy of God that He may keep us from all evils of soul and body” is a worthwhile use of this devotion for us alcoholics. The parts referring to “growing things” is… well, I frequently suggest that readers “go outside to get outside” of yourself. Outdoors is where you can meet and get to know God through the study and observance of His works. (The best place is, of course inside a church, at Mass or in front of te Blessed Sacrament) but being amongst His creation is good, too.

I am not sure exactly how the Rogation Days can be practiced at home if they aren’t observed in a parish near you; I do have a copy of the “Rural Life Prayer Book” and am going to just prayerfully read the section on the Rogation Days and go from there, adapting as best I can. You can obtain a print copy for yourself here: Catholic Rural Life Store or download it free from EWTN here: EWTN Document Library

I’d suggest buying it fro the CRL site, it supports a good cause and you can find things easier with a print copy 😉 .

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"

Help Support Prairie Hoof Farm

It seems like there’s been a flurry of meritorious GoFundMe campaigns during this Lenten/Easter season. Well, there’s another worthy campaign that I am bringing to your attention…

PLEASE… if you can.. support Prairie Hoof Farm by Kevin and Mary Ford in their attempts to re-establish their farm to the Topeka, Kansas region.

The Fords:

TheFordFamily

Kindly go to the GoFundMe link and read up on it; Kevin tells it much better than I can.

But in short, the Fords currently run a farm in south-central Kansas. It has experienced a few bad years, “bad” enough that it would have convinced most people to hang up their mucking boots (or whatever it is that farmers wear when they muck around in pig … stuff…) and repurpose their life. But not Kevin. Kevin, you see, is the founder of the “New” Catholic Land Movement. Kevin descibes the NCLM succinctly:

“A great hope we have for our farm is to make it a place where families can come to live, work, and pray together. Our culture so fragments life today that we feel an experience like this on a farm could really help families to be what they are meant to be. Making our business successful will help us to be able to fulfill this ministry. We would like our farm to one day be a base for the New Catholic Land Movement to use to train families in homesteading and farming-related skills.”

This is Kevin with a pig friend: (The boots he’s wearing are what I was referring to a couple of paragraphs above.)

Kevinmuckingwithapig

Kevin maintains a site and blog dedicated the the NCLM, where there is a more complete description of it: Introduction to the New Catholic Land Movement.

Please find it within yourself to contribute… This is an excellent opportunity to help an independent business, complete with family to boot AND help an aspect of American culture that need invigoration. If you are a Catholic who supports certain aspects of Catholic Social Teachings such as “solidarity” and Distributist economics, this is a way to get involved. Thanks!

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"

repentance posting

OK, I did it again! Although I didn’t formally announce it, I sort of strongly implied that I’d be blogging daily during Lent. I actually may have come out and said it, I don’t remember.

Well, no posts these past two days. {{{sigh}}}

(The “I did it again!” refers to my annual Lenten pledge to blog daily, and then failing to do so. It’s been done once, maybe twice. Probably once.)

Well, I’m not going to beat myself up over it; I will just resolve to get back up and proceed onward. And that is a lesson for all of us sinners. We repent and confess our sins; we relapse and sin again. Do we quit with the repentance and confession? After all, we’re probably just going to do it again! Of course not! Even though we will probably commit the same sins, or even new ones, we still pick our sorry selves back up and repent and confess. As long as it takes (which will probably be the rest of our lives).

This separates the saints from those who are not. Saints ALWAYS pick themselves back up and resume.

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"

WWJD

There’s a fad, mostly over, I think, concerning how a Christian should behave in a particular situation. “WWJD,” as in “What Would Jesus Do?” The implication is that He would be “nice.”

There’s a joke going around the Internet which suggests that whenever asked, “WWJD?,” you should state something like: “An acceptable response might be to grab a rope, make a whip out of it and go berserk against wrongdoers.”

An excerpt from the Gospel from today’s Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent:

John 2: 15-16

“And when he had made something like a whip out of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, including the sheep and the oxen. And he poured out the brass coins of the moneychangers, and he overturned their tables.

And to those who were selling doves, he said: “Take these things out of here, and do not make my Father’s house into a house of commerce.””

via Catholic Public Domain Version of the Sacred Bible.

Jesus was angry. If you’ve been in a Twelve Step recovery program long enough, you’ll hear things like “anger is best used by people who can handle it,” which is essentially correct as we alcoholics, even after a long time in sobriety, have a difficult time with anger. We dwell on those things that make us angry, we obsess about them, and sometimes resentments develop.

Does this mean we should never become angry? An impossible task if you ask me. So it could suggest that we should “pick and choose” what we get angry about.

Of course, this takes practise. A recitation of the “Serenity Prayer” often throughout the day might help.

Also, anticipation of things that might happen during the course of your day is good, too. In any given normal day, certain situations arise which typically might make you want to reach for a whip and drive people away from you because they are annoying or irritating. Would that we could.

So plan ahead.

Another thing: the world is crazy and getting crazier. You might want to “pick and choose” what news you pay attention to. Don’t become an ostrich and plant your head in the sand and ignore the world; just be careful regarding your news intake (however you manage it – news sites, social media feeds, whatever.)

But what about righteous anger? Again, sometimes that “is best used by people who can handle it.” But I think that as Catholic Christians we should not take the easy way out and say that because “we’re alcoholics and addicts, we can’t deal with social problems since our sobriety might be threatened.” We have access to the Sacraments, namely the Mass and the Eucharist to help give us strength and courage. We can get interested in life issues, homelessness and poverty. We are called to do that. Within our means and abilities, yes, but we should not ignore problems for others to handle.

Again, the Serenity Prayer can help. Also the realization that we can do things in solidarity with others.

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"

Help One Dying Veteran Have a Home

The other day I blogged about my wife’s efforts to help the homeless, in Tents for the Homeless, and yesterday was an effort to help out the widow of a US Marine. Now I’m exhorting you to consider another Work of Mercy (which, as I said in my post about my friend the Marine Corps widow, doing charitable works seems to be recurring theme in the Lenten Mass readings.)

Miki Odendahl, a good online friend of mine from whom I’ve learned many things is raising money to enable a man to die with dignity. This is NOT the “die with dignity” euphemism that covers “assisted suicide,” this is an effort to prevent a homeless American veteran from dying alone in a street or in a ditch somewhere…

To quote from the “GoFundMe” campaign: “My name is Miki Odendahl, and I’m the co-director of the Gilbert House Catholic Worker Community in Western Wisconsin. That sounds like something, but really, it’s just me and my best friends, with a phone line and big mouths doing what we can to serve our local area in whatever ways we are able….

… Clarence lost his apartment, whilst he was in the hospital recovering from a shattered knee injury, because his landlord was jacking up the rent. Bad news, because Clarence has been very sick, receiving kidney dialysis 3 days a week at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Since July I’ve been trying to find affordable housing for this homeless U.S. Veteran with little success. I have talked to multiple people in the mayor’s office … I have called every single number on every single housing list I could get my hands on in three counties, I have connected with every appropriate agency and veterans group, and I have talked to every … politician’s office in my district–…-on Clarence’s behalf, and still, here we are 8 months after my husband and I put all of Clarence’s worldly belongings in a storage locker, and he is exhausted and surfing sofas with family and friends who are bending their own rental agreements to keep him out of the cold. The long and the short of it is this:

He’s dying, slowly but surely, and at the end of this month he will have worn out his welcome with all of those who can help him stay close to his hospital and his two young children. ..

...I hear many people talk about dying with dignity. This man served his country with humility and honour, and I want him to be able to live out the remainder of his young days with the dignity due a man of his station. He served or nation without expectation of anything in return, and now I want him to experience the gratitude he deserves.
PLEASE HELP ME TO FIND CLARENCE RICE A FINAL HOME.”

To contribute, please go here: Help One Dying Veteran Have a Home by Miki Odendahl – GoFundMe. It is a wonderful way for those who “Support the Troops” to do something…

clarence

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 person who brings a sinner back

What do you do to bring people back from sinful ways?

An excerpt from the Reading from the Evening Prayer for Friday of the Second Week of Lent is James 5: 19-20 –

“Remember this: the person who brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul from death and cancel a multitude of sins.”

via Divine Office.

I hopefully use this blog to successfully do this. I may only know just how successful during my Particular Judgment. But in keeping with that idea, do you use social media like Facebook and Twitter to bring people to Christ?

You might want to think about that…

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"

Please help a USMC widow…

Yesterday I blogged about my wife’s efforts to help the homeless, in Tents for the Homeless. Today is another day in which I’ll be exhorting you to consider another Work of Mercy: (a common theme in the Lenten Missal readings…)

Stephanie Price, Marine widow.

Stephanie and her late husband met on CatholicMatch.com, where I also had met my wife. We continued our friendship with Steph on Facebook, (her husband wasn’t a member.) Our little group of CatholicMatch alumni were devastated with the news of her husband succumbing to PTSD and depression.

To quote from the gofundme campaign: “Stephanie, his beautiful wife who stood by him and tried all she could to get him the help he deserved is now left to pick up the pieces of their family life.

She is the one who has paid it forward for so many. Now this is our opportunity to not only show gratitude for a friend, but to also say thank you for YOUR service, devoted wife of a US Marine who dedicated his life to improving our lives.”

So, for all those who “Support the Troops,” now is your chance to do something. Michael had served in three branches of the US military (Marines, Army, National Guard.)

3576798_fb_1425518222.5883_funds

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"