Serenity Prayer

At most (if not all) AA meetings the Serenity Prayer is recited. Below is a copy of the full version, usually just the first four lines are read at meetings, as the rest is overtly Christian:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

The first four lines is the petition, the rest I think is the result of the petition and the willingness to abide by it. I perused this prayer today, and I focused on the “Enjoying one moment at a time” line. I am going through a depression at the moment, it is tied in with a physical ailment that refuses to go away, and this triggered various “woe is me” resentments and pity parties. There are few people to talk to as those I would unload on are going through worse Junes than the one I am in. So that compounds things. It’s all bottled up. Prayer isn’t much of a release. Saints have reported similar periods. Great!

But today I chanced upon a copy of the Serenity Prayer (Long Version). I’ve read the entire thing before, so it wasn’t new. But that “Enjoying one moment at a time” line stuck out. Especially as it’s immediately followed by the “Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace” recommendation. Huh?

We are expected to enjoy each moment at a time. If we live by this prayer’ petition, which can be a summation of just and fair dependence and submission to God’s will and His Providence, then the latter parts will be achievable. We will have serenity. There are things that we cannot change. This is humility and common sense. There are things we can change. So we do that, with God’s help if need be. And we request the wisdom to discern the difference, because as the arrogant or stupid humans that we are, we sometimes feel we can do the impossible and not do the necessary.

We enjoy each moment. Even if hardships lie on our path. Jesus suffered, and so who are we to shun it? We take it in stride, knowing it will pass. Accept it as a lesson or toughening for later. “This, too, shall pass” is an AA slogan. A good one. We accept the world as it is, knowing that eventually all will come out according to Divine Plan. Either in our own lives or the world about us. We do not stand idly by, spectating, but we change what we and not worry about the rest.

Has this made me snap out of my depression? Not really, but I managed to write this blogpost instead of mope.

I really wanted to take a drink today. I figured beer would be safe. I didn’t, but was tempted. The problems would still be around, made worse by knowing I drank after 5 years of sobriety, had I imbibed. But nothing substantive would be changed.

Maybe I had the wisdom to know the difference. Huh.

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"


  1. morning paul,wondered where you were all week, doing what i do very well thats be depressed, feel sorry for myself and think about drinking. well don’t drink, don’t blow 5 yrs like i did in nov and i really got drunk last night and am hung over. this sucks and this is something i can change. you know that nothing is made better by drinking even when someone is not an alky. i have seen this long version before and its very relavent isn’t it. listen i take a med for my depression and it helps a little but the medicine i am suppose to take i can’t afford because no ins. so i drink and then i end up feeling worse. smart huh!!!!!!!!!! keep this blog alive i need it and i look forward to iti will say some hail marys for you and you do the same for me deal?enjoy this weekend even if it kills yapeacePam

  2. Hey Pam,I don’t post daily, but try to at least once a week. Don’t beat yourself up over your drinking, just resolve to do better. Kicking yourself when you’re down is a sure way to stay down, and drunk. Been there, did that.Glad you like the blog, and it means a lot to me to hear that you need it. Keep commenting and email if you’d like to!Paul

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