On January 7th the Church celebrates Epiphany, the day of the manifestation of the birth of Lord to the world, as symbolized by the Magi, the “Three Wise Men” from the East. They saw something described as a star which led them to where Jesus lay in a stable, one light leading them to the Light of the world.
How can this be applied to an individual’s journey of sobriety? In the depths of our alcoholism, all seems dark. There appears to be no hope. Some wish for death. Some reach that point described as “the jumping off place”, that time in every alcoholic’s life where something happens and we decide that maybe not drinking is better than drinking. That continuing to drink will kill us, but in not drinking we may only wish we were dead.
We find our way to some treatment, whether it’s detox and rehab and then AA (or an alternative sobriety program), or just AA. This may be sufficient. After all, we have been delivered from the gripping decay of alcoholism, we are now “happy, joyous and free”, and lead new lives.
But is that it, to be just sober? Just to not drink? For some that is enough. Given the drinking life of before, to just get through a day without drinking is a tremendous improvement. To look at oneself in the mirror and like what is seen, to look other people in the eye when that couldn’t be done before, is enough.
But I ask again, is that enough? Is that what we were made for? Some great thing happened and our drinking stopped. A gift was given to us, the gift of sobriety. While for many that may be enough (and considering the years or decades of drinking and lives hurt, sufficient) I think that this gift of sobriety should not stop there for some of us, regardless of one’s drunkalogue.
As Jesus manifested into the world as its Light of Salvation, we can manifest our new sober lives in ways that mirror His mission of healing and responding and teaching and giving. We can be a light to other alcoholics and addicts.
For some that calling is fulfilled more than adequately by attendance at AA meetings and service work. Whether service means opening up the meeting place and making coffee or just cleaning up, to serving as a representative in the hierarchy that AA has developed over the decades, depends on the individual. But there are other ways of being a light to others than just giving back to AA, especially when AA may have been merely a tool used by Someone to get you on the road to following the Light of all people.
We are all individuals, each of us making up the Mystical Body of Christ, and as St. Paul had written the Body is made up of many parts, each with its own task. (1 Cor 12: 1-31) By meditating on our sobriety, and what got us there, we can better achieve what may be God’ s Will in our lives. It is AA’s Step 3 (Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.) and Step 11 (Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out). Whether that is continued work with AA or another program, or branching out and using our newly sober lives elsewhere is the responsibility of the individual.
The Magi were not Jewish, and yet they sought out the prophesied King of the Jews. They were not bound by their (probable) Zoroastrian beliefs. I always wondered about that.
As Catholics, recovered from alcoholism and addiction, there is a wealth of sacramental and spiritual resources, free for the taking, for us to use in keeping sober and serene. To grow deeper spiritually in the Catholic Faith as a response to our sobriety is a treasure that cannot be kept to ourselves. It is a gift.
And we become gifts. We give ourselves to Christ, in service to Him and to others. And in doing so we help the Church grow.
Have a wonderful Epiphany.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"