I sought the Lord and he answered me

An excerpt from the Responsorial Psalm for the Mass for Tuesday of the First Week of Lent:

(Psalm 34:5) I sought the Lord, and he heeded me, and he carried me away from all my tribulations.

Courtesy Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

Seek the Lord and you will find Him. Perhaps not in the manner that you’d expect or the way you hoped. He will respond in the way best suited for your salvation.

This passage from the Psalms carries with it much hope for the alcoholic and addict still suffering, or for anyone having difficulties accepting the Cross of their recovery. (We all may learn we have our own Simon of Cyrene in our lives. We have to hope that we can recognize him or her.)

We have to keep in mind that God’s response to our prayers is in His time and not ours. We may have to endure in our tribulations; but this just means in the end we will emerge stronger and more secure in our partnership with God and our reliance on Divine Providence is bearing fruit.

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"

Porn addiction links updated

Although I blog almost exclusively on alcoholism, with occasional references to other addictions, I do know that porn addiction is rampant and more prevalent than alcoholism. I first discovered this in 2007 when I was researching online Catholic resources for addiction; I found scores of sites and resources for lust, much more than for drinking.

For that reason I developed a section of links in the sidebar for “Porn Addiction Links.” I just added a few.

Not all of these are Catholic, some require a fee for membership. So proceed at your discernment.

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"

Renewing your mind

The Evening Prayer for today (Monday, First Week of Lent) has one of my favorite passages from Scripture. I wrote about it once before during a period of the year I call “Second Chance Lent,” and that post also has another passage from Scripture that is perfect for “real” Lent.

From August 31, 2014:

The Second Reading from Today’s Mass of the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time has one of my favorite Scripture passages, and the first one I ever attempted to memorize. To me, it is at the heart of being a person in recovery:

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

In recovery, we are essentially becoming transformed. We live by the principles of our recovery program (be it Twelve Step or something else) and if we are Christian, we seek out what the Church has to offer people struggling with their addictions. And one key thing, and this is something I’ve stressed from time to time: you don’t conform to this age, you do not seek value in the so-called “morals” of the World. They do not offer anything of substance and certainly they do not offer anything good for your salvation.

In this “transformation” and our “renewal” we gain the capacity to discern what is the will of God, “what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

How to discern the Will of God? Reading Sacred Scripture is one way. In the Gospel Reading for today’s Mass, Jesus tells His disciples:

Matthew 16:24-27 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Again, “taking up the Cross” is essential to our recovery. We do not seek to run away from our troubles, all of the problems, big or small, that life throws at us daily. That is what we did while drinking. Everyone has troubles, it is a fact of human existence. We now have to tools to effectively deal with them, and perhaps even people around us who can assist us.

But it’s more than that. It’s building a new life in recovery, and becoming a better follower of Jesus Christ! Our lives today are better than when drinking. And even better than before we first picked up a drink due to our “renewal” and “transformation.”

Mass Readings via USCCB.

So, “renewing your mind” is a recovery theme. We drop our old ways of thinking, acting, reacting and feeling and so on, and adopt new ones assisted by God’s grace. “Taking up the cross” is what all Christians are supposed to do, we cannot be followers of Christ unless we willingly embrace the Cross.

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"

Gratitude for God’s Generosity

Gratitude is one of the things I need to work on during Lent. I do not show it enough, particularly for the things I have received from God. Ingratitude (or at least insufficient gratitude) for God’s gifts tend to keep Him from giving more.

This excerpt from the Second Reading for today’s Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours is from a Sermon by Saint Gregory Nazianzen: “Let us show each other God’s generosity”

Recognise to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory, now darkly as in a mirror but then with greater fullness and purity. You have been made a son of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?

Let me turn to what is of less importance: the visible world around us. What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp? Who has blessed you with rain, with the art of husbandry, with different kinds of food, with the arts, with houses, with laws, with states, with a life of humanity and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of kinship?

Who has given you dominion over animals, those that are tame and those that provide you with food? Who has made you lord and master of everything on earth? In short, who has endowed you with all that makes man superior to all other living creatures?

Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures and for the sake of all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity? Though he is God and Lord he is not afraid to be known as our Father. Shall we for our part repudiate those who are our kith and kin?

Courtesy: Universalis

We too often forget this, that everything we have comes from the Lord. We lose sight of this in the myriad complexities and sufferings of the day. When things go well, we credit ourselves; when the go bad, we blame or get angry with God.

Look around your life and try to see the good you have. Be thankful.

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"

Repent, and believe in the gospel

At the close of yesterday’s Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent, Jesus proclaims: (Mark 1:15)

“For the time has been fulfilled and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Courtesy: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

Repent means to be sorrowful of your sins and make a change of heart; you were a certain way and now you will change. The Gospel, as you should know, is the “Good News” of Jesus, that He is the “Way, the Truth and the Life,” and no one else is.

Lent is the time when do this, from the penitential practices that we adopt, the devotions we undertake, sacraments we participate in and the overall increased focus on who we are in relation to Jesus.

We use this time to transform ourselves into Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary was the best at doing this; observing and being with Him all His life, she was His greatest disciple. Grab a Rosary and ask her to lead you to Him.

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"

He left everything and followed him

In this excerpt from the Gospel for today’s Mass for the Saturday after Ash Wednesday we read in Luke 5:27-28 And after these things, he went out, and he saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the customs office. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving behind everything, rising up, he followed him.

Courtesy: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

Just like that, Levi heard Jesus’ summons and followed Him. Granted, tax collectors’ were hated by the native population given that they worked for the occupying power, but to just up and leave was something. Perhaps Levi felt guilty working for the enemy and getting rich in the process. We learn in he next verse, Luke 5:28: And Levi made a great feast for him in his own house. And there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others, who were sitting at table with them. This implies that he was wealthy. Either tax collectors were paid well or or they scammed the natives. Or both. Anyway, Levi, (a/k/a Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel) found sufficient reason to leave then and there.

Was he inspired? Did Levi “sense” something in Jesus? Something that indicated that His was a better way than the life of greed and avarice Levi was leading? Was money Levi’s god, his idol?

We may never know, except after our completion of the journey and arrival in Heaven. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful thing to meditate on… was Jesus’ presence a healing one, or of such an inspiration that would cause someone to just quit their job and follow Him? Did He seem that different from others?

Many people wonder if they would have the courage to do that if they lived in His times and were summoned by Him. “Of course I would, because, He’s JESUS!!!

Well, you don’t have to quit your job today to follow Him.

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"

A heart contrite and humbled you will not spurn

Continuing on with the “heart” theme with the Daily Mass Readings, this excerpt from the Responsorial Psalm for today’s Mass for the Friday after Ash Wednesday is “A contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn.” (Psalm 51:19)

Courtesy Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

This is a wonderful testimony, and offers hope to all of us who have stumbled along the way. Contrition is all we need and God will receive us with open arms. (Reminds you of Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son, eh?)

Lent is a fantastic time to develop a relationship with a confessional. Examine your conscience and go to Confession this Lent! (Several times; trust me, the more you go, the less scary it is!)

In looking over old posts about this passage, I discovered a few. Rather than link to each one, I’ll just refer you to my archive of every Psalm 51 post: Psalm 51 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"

The heart turns away…

Continuing along with the theme of yesterday’s post, we read in this excerpt from the First Reading of today’s Mass for Thursday after Ash Wednesday “…But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them…” (Deuteronomy 30:17)

Keep God in the center of your heart. Place Him there and you will be attracted more to Him with every prayer, every sacrifice, even those “swords that pierce” your own heart. The still, small voice from the divinity dwelling within calls to you. Like an object that orbits another much larger object, you will be drawn closer to Him who is or first beginning and last end. But as the passage from Deuteronomy warns, if your heart turns away, it will no longer hear that call of God, and will be attracted to others…

Displaced from with you, He will appear to have gone, creating a hole in your heart where He had dwelt. That hole needs to be filled….

A common phrase you frequently see in recovery readings is that of a “hole in your soul” that needs filling. And so we fill that hole with all sorts of things, the worst being our addictions.

Step away from them, even if you’ve been clean and sober for years there is still the risk of relapsing. Calm and secure in your recovery, you slacken and begin to turn away…

If you’re still drinking and using, accelerate your quest for God. Seek Him and allow Him to fill that hole…

Mary can help lead you to Him. Traditional Catholic teaching holds that we go through Mary to get to Jesus. Grab your Rosary and start praying! (Incidentally, if you’re a 12 Stepper, praying the Rosary is an excellent application of the 11th Step.)

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"

In the heart

In this excerpt from the First Reading from today’s Mass for Ash Wednesday we read: “…rend your hearts and not your garments.” (Joel 2:13)

As I said a few days ago “I have been reading quite a lot of Marian spirituality and theology over the past few years.” My interior life has grown as a result, which is not surprising considering that she “…pondered things in her heart…” (Luke 2:19). When you learn in the “School of Mary” you cannot help but develop a richer interior spiritual life which is centered in the heart.

This is connected to the Gospel from today’s Mass, in which Jesus admonishes us to:

“…go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “ (Matthew 6:6)

I’m told the practice of “rending your garments” was done in the Temple or in public to demonstrate the strength of a person’s piety or outrage at something offensive (to God. Remember the chief priest rending his garment during Jesus’ Passion.) But it is a public display. The readings emphasize the importance of the interior life, of repenting and converting and making your “heart” and acceptable place for the Lord to dwell.

The Blessed Mother is an excellent model for us in this. Ask her to help you this Lent; pray for her to guide you through this Holy season which culminates in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of her Son which so greatly pierced her heart (Luke 2:35). Lent is our time to grow closer to the Lord, what better teacher than she who quite likely spent her entire life pondering Him in her Immaculate Heart?

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"

Lent 2018

Lent begins tomorrow, February 14th. One of the annual things here on Sober Catholic is my sharing with you a useful resource on having a fruitful Lenten season. Please go here: Praying Lent 2018 by Creighton University Online Ministries

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"