33 Reasons NOT to walk the Camino

If you have been reading this blog for the past several years and retain a good memory for certain oddities, then you would know that I hold an obsession regarding the film “The Way.” It is a film directed by Emilio Estevez and starred his father, Martin Sheen. It is about a man (Sheen) who’s son (Estevez) died one day into his 500-mile pilgrimage and how he went to Spain to retrieve his son’s body. While there, the father impulsively decided to walk the Camino himself, carrying his son’s ashes, so that the son could ‘complete’ the Camino. It has lead me to watching untold hours of You Tube videos on the Camino. Ideally, I will walk the Camino someday; practically, it ain’t gonna happen, so until then I will do it vicariously. (Incidentally, there are ‘virtual Caminos;’ once in a while in my Facebook feed I see ads for such things. It’s like an exercise app where you enroll and walk so many miles a day wherever you live, either in your home or around the neighborhood and town. You keep track of how far you walk. I think it’s a smartphone app or Apple Watch thing; I’m not sure because I haven’t done that, either. But it looks interesting.)

Now, on to the point of this post. Recently I subscribed to a You Tube channel that is about this couple doing their third Camino. What I just love about it is that it is one of the few Camino channels that is unabashedly Catholic and approaches the Camino from its origins and purposes as a CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL PILGRIMAGE. Almost all of the others focus on a non-denominational/quasi-pagan spiritual development, or its historical and cultural importance, or that it’s a fun and worthwhile thing to do. Mostly backpackers for whom it is ‘just another’ hiking thing like the Appalachian Trail or whatever.

The channel is here: Los Peregrinos. The pilgrims are a Filipino couple from Dallas, Texas (although originally from the Philippines.) The series of videos are subtitled “33 reason why Catholics should not walk the Camino.” It is a funny use of ‘reverse psychology’ as each reason is a good lesson on faith and growing closer to Jesus, using Camino metaphors and examples.

I have not finished the series yet, currently I’m on Day 25. Each day they relate what happened, where they went and how it was; and at some point within the video he gives that day’s “reason not to walk” it, along with a “Camino Saint of the Day,” typically a saint from the area they were in on that day who is tied to the Camino in some manner.

I am loving these videos (although sometimes I do get dizzy as the camera is moved much too fast when a site is shot. But a small price for such an edifying series of videos.)

There is another You Tube Channel created by Catholics who also walked the Camino; although they visit churches along the way and their Faith is important, their videos aren’t as religious (but still worthwhile!) The St. Max Media YouTube Channel is run by a Polish lady who went on Camino with her daughter. Their playlist is here:  Camino de Santiago – The Way of Saint James

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Ember Days of Lent 2021

Tomorrow, Friday and Saturday constitute the Ember Days of Lent. I mentioned them last year or the one before, as a weapon in the spiritual warfare for these times. Ember Days are like mini-Lents situated four times throughout the year. The first one begins right after Ash Wednesday, perhaps as a means of ‘strengthening’ the penitent for the Lenten journey. You know how it is, Lent begins, we’re all pious and devout and intent on having the ‘best Lent ever’ and dont’cha know it, one week in and we’ve already given up what we’re giving up!

From the Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent:

“Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.”

From the blog of the FSSP:

What are the dates of Ember Days? They have fluctuated throughout history. The upcoming Ember Days of Lent were not originally linked to the first week of Lent but to the first week in March. Francis Mershman in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) affirms: “They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross).” This was expressed in the old English rhyme:

Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.
Or even a shorter mnemonic: Lenty, Penty, Crucy, Lucy.

Courtesy: FSSP Missive: Ember Days of Lent

The next Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Pentecost.

I hope your Lent is going well; unlike some years, I will not be blogging daily. I do hope you are using a nice Catholic daily devotional to help you with Lent. If not, frequent meditations on the Passion of Christ are always fruitful. Stations of the Cross booklets are alway great to use, including mine! Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics.

 

 

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

Last year I began a new devotion, the “Work of Reparation,” also known as the Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. I initially wrote about it here, but to quote from that post for a refresher: “During the late 1840’s. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to a Carmelite nun in Tours, France, and revealed a message to her that was to be shared with the world. That message was the Devotion to His Most Holy Face. Sister Marie of St. Peter was tasked with making this “Work of Reparation” known.

This Devotion is intended to make reparation for the sins of blasphemy against the Holy Name of God and the profanation of Sundays and Holy Days. In addition, it is to be a spiritual weapon against Communists.”

I went on to say, “This is a devotion gravely needed for our times. Western Civilization is conceivably in a state of collapse as evidenced by the political and popular responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, riots and mob thuggery in our cities and Leftist infection of our cultural elites and the resulting aggressive action by the power centers they control in culture and society.” I am afraid that in addition to the threat of Leftist violence in the USA, Right-wing violence over the Presidential election results is now also a possibility. We may not have ‘passed the point of no return,’ regarding correcting our collective path to perdition, but to me, it’s only a matter of time before there is a Divine intervention of some kind. God does not provide miracles when there are still ordinary means to resolve problems and crises, but I think we’re coming to some such thing  soon. When? No idea, but the time for spiritual preparation is NOW (actually, it has been for a while.)

And so we come to the Holy Face Devotion, which in recent months  I am seeing more evidence of online (namely in the form of You Tube channels dedicated in part to it.)

Today is traditionally the Feast Day for the Holy Face. It is not celebrated in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and in the Extraordinary Form (‘Latin Mass’) is is an optional votive Mass. But in years past the day before Ash Wednesday id dedicated to the ‘work of reparation,’ which is interesting given that the same day in secular cultures is dedicated to getting the last bit of debauchery out of your system before Lent begins the next day.

“Fr. Z,” who has a You Tube Channel where he celebrates the Latin Mass, posted yesterday on his blog, the Mass Propers for the Votive Mass in Honor of the Holy Face of Jesus. Here’s a link from that post for a downloadable PDF file for the Propers :  PDF of Mass Propers for the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. If you want to watch the Mass, go here.

You can get a clear insight into the Holy Face Devotion by contemplating the Propers. I urge you to prayerfully read them!

ARCHIVE OF SOBER CATHOLIC HOLY FACE DEVOTION POSTS

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Conversion of St. Paul

Today is January 25th, the day set aside on the Church calendar to celebrate the Conversion if St. Paul the Apostle. You know the story: Paul, still known as ‘Saul,’ a particularly zealous Pharisee who took special delight in arresting and bringing to capital punishment followers of “the Way,” as the Jewish sect that recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, was on his was to Damascus with authorization to cleanse that city of these followers. While en route, he was struck down by an apparition of Jesus.

From the Book of the Acts of the Apostles Ch. 9:3-9

And as he made the journey, it happened that he was approaching Damascus. And suddenly, a light from heaven shone around him.

And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”

And he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

And the Lord said to him, “Rise up and go into the city, and there you will be told what you ought to do.” Now the men who were accompanying him were standing stupefied, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no one.

Then Saul rose up from the ground. And upon opening his eyes, he saw nothing. So leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.

And in that place, he was without sight for three days, and he neither ate nor drank. 

Courtesy: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

And we know the rest. He became the Apostle to the Gentiles, extending the Kingdom of God to lands beyond the original birthplace of the Way.

I like this feast day for personal reasons. First, my name is Paul. Second, it’s about his conversion; the transformation from a former manner of living to a better one that is in service to the Lord. I connect that with my own reversion to the Faith after about 15 years of being away, followed by the onset of sobriety.

Sometimes conversions take time. Mine took about eight years. Others can happen right away. Like a bolt of lightning, something happens which tells you that God wants something better for you and you must follow. There are many inspirational stories in Catholic devotional books and ‘lives of the saints’ of people converting very quickly, almost ‘miraculously,’ from a life of sin to one of holiness.

The point is, anyone’s conversion is possible. No matter how infused with secularism and materialism one is, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother can break through the barriers and reach the interior of a person. The power and attraction of the ‘world’ may seem irresistible and insurmountable, but with God, all things are possible.

One additional point is, He may use others as the instrument of conversion. If you are reading this blog fairly regularly, you or another you know probably trod the path of conversion from an addictive life to a sober one. Perhaps one reason for that is for you to be an instrument of conversion for others. You may be the only Gospel, or Catechism that another person sees any given day. Your actions and words may be the springboard from which another person begins their journey.

Something to ponder…If He used St. Paul for the purposes He intended, what might He use you for?

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Distractions and anxiety

I noticed the other day that I haven’t blogged in over a month. This isn’t an apology nor an explanation, but just commentary about ‘distractions and anxiety.’

Lots of things have been going on in both the Church and the secular world. The Church passed through Advent, Christmas and on through Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Typically I would have blogged a bit on any one or a number of them. Not that I am a liturgical blogger, but one of the themes of this blog is that the liturgical year provides a rhythm and framework about which to live out the year. Not that I am always diligent in blogging during key seasons; I’ve been absent before during them and can promise you that it will happen again! Nevertheless, this goes beyond just focusing on the season and trying to live out the spirituality and forgetting or neglecting to bring insights to readers.

I’ve been distracted and downright freakishly anxious about the state of the world. USA Presidential election results were being disputed; and it doesn’t matter who would have won, either side was prepared to claim the other ‘cheated’ if their side lost. Carry this forward to the threat of political violence by the loser to protest the ‘stolen election.’ The threat of a civil war appears real. And I don’t really think it’s over.

So, in observing current events I decided to withdraw and not blog. Sad to say I didn’t withdraw from social media. I would have retained a greater deal of sanity if I had.

The civil war is for now a ‘cold’ one. No fighting or anything like that. But ruptures in online friendships as people ‘take sides’ and cannot tolerate an opposing point of view or conviction. I confess to having ‘unfriended’ people; primarily because they crossed a line of toxicity and illogic.

Oh, well. I’m back to blogging. I hope your Advent went well, that you got to Confession and Mass and grew spiritually and religiously. Perhaps you reread old Sober Catholic posts on the season to compensate for my not having written anything new.

Lent is almost upon us and I hope to use that to boost my blogging. Later, people!

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Year of St. Joseph

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde which established these upcoming twelve months as the “Year of St. Joseph.” This had long been speculated by those who do that sort of thing, and they were finally proven correct. Like other “Year of’s…” the faithful among us are to delve more deeply into the lives of the saint or doctrine so honored and to become more spiritually enriched as a result.

I really enjoy these “Year of…” declarations. My wife and I still continue the practice we did when Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy a while back; that of jointly praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I had dug more deeply into St. Faustina’s Diary throughout that Year and added several more books to my Divine Mercy bookshelf. For the previous “Year of Faith” I studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church and studied a few other books on Catholic Dogmas and Doctrines.

This Year of St. Joseph will be no different. I already had a collection of books on the Foster Father of Our Lord and Saviour, but hadn’t yet gotten to reading them. That will change. First up to be read will be The Life and Glories of St. Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A. From TAN Book’s description, “No words of St. Joseph are recorded In Scripture. In fact. little mention is made of him there. Yet. despite these seeming limitations. the Church nonetheless possesses an indescribably rich knowledge of St. Joseph and of his cultus. This book will astound most readers both with its scope and with its profundity. Based mainly on Scripture. but supported also by Tradition and the depositions of saints. it is a carefully reasoned analysis of the entirety of that great saint’s role in the history of Salvation and the life of the Church. Includes details about his spiritual life and noble lineage; how he was prefigured in the Old Testament; his relationship to Mary and Jesus; why he has been named by Pope Pius IX “The Patron of the Universal Church;” and so forth. Many beautiful insights.” 

As with other “Year of…” declarations, we will have to opportunity  to gain Plenary Indulgences. These are pious practices that we can perform that, if fulfilled correctly and with the proper attitude, can obtain for us the complete remission of our sins.

These pious acts “must be accompanied by sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions; the usual conditions to obtain any plenary indulgence.”

The pious acts for gaining the indulgences are listed here, in this article from CNA, as well as at: Aleteia.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Advent started today, and tomorrow, November 30th is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. Associated with the Feast is an old tradition known as the St. Andrew Christmas Novena. To do this, you say 15 times a day from St. Andrew’s Day until Christmas:

“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.”

Fifteen times a day?!?! It’s not really that hard, when you break it down. Say it five times during Morning Prayers and five more times during the Three O’clock Divine Mercy Hour, and the remaining five during Evening Prayers. Another good time is at bedtime, if, for example, you don’t have sufficient time at 3PM.

It also isn’t really that long a prayer.

I have never done this, but will do so this year.

 

 

 

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Catholic Recovery subreddit

I love Reddit. Reddit is the self-described “front page of the Internet” and is the result of a massive grouping of forums, called ‘subreddits’ or just plain ‘subs,’ that are created by the online community. You name it, there’s a sub for it. Some are obviously more popular than others; one thing I love about Reddit is the vast array of diverse subs, including some obscure niche interests.

There are quite a lot of Catholic subreddits on there. One of the newest is the Catholic Recovery subreddit. Yes, you heard that right, there is an entire sub devoted for us Catholics recovering from something! Here is their Group description:

“For Roman or Eastern Catholics struggling with mental health issues mild or severe, trauma, addiction of any kind, loss/grief, depression, spiritual malady, sin, scrupulosity, et cetera. We recognize the importance of spiritual redemption in recovery, the incredible framework of the Catholic faith in healing, and the miraculous power of the Eucharist as a “divine medicine” of God. Many of us sometimes cannot share with our parish these topics due to common societal stigma, so here we are.”

The minute I found out about it, I joined so fast Einstein might have had to revise his theory of relativity, had he known. I do not have anything to do with the running of the sub, I’m just a grateful and happy member.

Reddit has ‘social networking” functions. Although you cannot ‘friend’ anyone, you can ‘follow’ them. My Reddit account is Paulcoholic on Reddit.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books!
"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

St. Felix of Valois

Today is the feast day of St. Felix of Valois on the liturgical calendar for the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass. St. Felix was a hermit and a co-founder (with Saint John of Matha) of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives (a/k/a “The Trinitarians”). The Trinitarians were devoted to the mystery of the Holy Trinity as well as to the ransom of Christians taken captive by Moslems in their raiding along the Mediterranean coast of Europe in the 12th Century.

In the Collect (akin to the intercessory prayers of the common Mass)  we pray:

“O God, Who by heavenly inspiration graciously called forth blessed Felix, Your Confessor, from the desert to the work of ransoming captives; grant, we beseech You, that by his intercession, and liberated by Your grace from the captivity of our sins, we may be led into our heavenly fatherland.”

Source: Missale Meum.

I introduce you to this Saint particularly because the Collect prayer refers to our being “liberated by Your grace from the captivity of our sins.” Therefore I am adding St. Felix of Valois to our list of saints that can especially be called upon to assist in liberating us from our captivity to alcohol and addiction. I am aware that “captivity” in this sense is metaphorical as St.Felix had nothing to do with addictions. But nevertheless, captivity is captivity; whether we are enslaved to another human or enslaved to a drug, our dignity as human beings is degraded through the abuse we receive. It may be easier to escape from a human slave owner than an addiction; which may seem ridiculous, except to those who have been trapped in an addiction.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books!
"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Sober Catholic gift opportunities

Lent will be here in just over three months (in 2021 Ash Wednesday is February 17th) and although it is not normally associated as a season of giving gifts, Christmas is, and that’s just over a month away. There are gifts that might be of interest to a person in recovery in your life (or yourself). Perhaps they can be stocking stuffers!

Why did I bring up Lent?

As many know, I published a little devotional booklet entitled “The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics”, it is available online at places listed here: Stations of the Cross Page. The Stations are a popular Lenten devotion. But wait! There’s more!

Another general all around gift for your favorite sober (or hopefully sober) Catholic is my other book: The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts

Thank you in advance! I value every reader. OH! And since Christmas is just in a little while, if you’d like to show your appreciation for my work her, you can PayPal me! Anything you drop in it will be appreciated. 🙂

 

 Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books!
"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)