The Gospel from today’s Mass for Friday of the 4th Week of Easter is a very hopeful and encouraging passage for people seeking a way out of alcoholism and addiction.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
There are many paths to sobriety. Twelve Step movements and the newer alternative paths out of alcoholism and addiction help people cope with sobriety and being clean. Many people stop there, feeling that merely not drinking and drugging is enough. This is fine, particularly if your life as an drinker or user was for a very long time. (My drinking career was 10 years, not long by most standards.) Others feel that merely being clean and sober isn’t enough.
And so they go beyond sobriety movements and seek out a deeper spirituality. Many return to the religion of their youth in the hopes of returning to a path they were derailed off of. Others don’t bother and try new things.
I returned to the religion of my youth, Catholicism. To me, even during my fallen away days, it seemed that it was the real Christianity, that all others were well-meaning but inferior in some way. No disrespect intended, it was just my gut feeling.
Back to the Gospel reading from today. Jesus is the only true way to the Father, no one can get to Him except through Jesus. There may be other paths to salvation, but none, not one, has the guarantee of God Himself that if you follow His Son, you will be saved. This is the one sure reason to justify being a Christian, we alone have the roadmap to salvation written by God. And we Catholics have the Church He established to carry out and safeguard His teachings until He returns again to judge us all.
Twelve Step and alternative paths of recovery do the job they intend to do, with varying degrees of success. But they only cover a part of the problem. While they do a good job of keeping people clean and sober when the work, the tendency of people to just stay sober or follow an easy spiritual path because it is, well, easy, happens too often.
Jesus is the only sure path to salvation. He also came to heal the sick and the broken. His Church has the tools necessary for healing, just as Jesus Himself healed. These are the sacraments that He instituted, such as Holy Communion and Confession. Through prayer and meditation and the participation in these sacraments, we can be healed of our addictions to the point where they simply are not an option to use when things are difficult. In fact, a central point of Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, is that we must accept difficulties (i.e. suffering) as essential in being disciples of Christ. Catholic Christianity heals us, body and soul, in a manner far more complete and essential that mere sobriety programs. They may be useful tools in addition to Catholicism, but only deal with one area, your mental health. Your soul still needs work.
That is why nearly a year-and-a-half ago I started this blog. I had looked all over the web for Catholic sites dealing with sobriety, but found not much. No blogs or other readily updated and interactive sites. I had hoped to introduce people who are seeking a deeper spirituality than that offered by recovery movements the opportunity to see how the Catholic faith and spirituality can help you stay sober and more importantly, grow closer to God. That hope continues after some periods of inactivity these past 6 months. (Note to regular readers: That random inactivity may be over as I have settled into my new job and new life as a husband. From now on there shouldn’t be major interruptions to blogging, as a normal, albeit grander life has returned.)
Follow Jesus and His Church. Just as Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so is His Church (problems and all. The Truth and Holiness of the Catholic Church is found in her teachings, not the behavior of her members.) . If you’re new to reading Sober Catholic, take some time and randomly read articles in the archive. If you’ve been here before, regular blogging has (hopefully) returned.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"