Death and Acceptance

I am in the process of transferring old posts from “The Four Last Things,” a blog I ran until 2016 on ‘Death, Judgement, Heaven (& Purgatory) and Hell.’ This process of migrating was started quite some time ago, but for no reason aside from laziness and forgetfulness was never completed until today. By ‘completed,’ I mean the posts have been moved and mostly postdated, a few backdated. I ran across this one from August 7, 2013. I was going to backdate it, but figured hardly anyone will see it unless they explored the archives. So here it is, unedited:    

I attended an AA meeting today for the first time in who knows how long. I had intended to go to Confession, but I ran into the priest and he told me that it was cancelled for today. Some diocesan shindig. I knew the parish hosted an AA meeting at the same time and so I figured, “What the heck? I’ll check it out.”

The topic was death and acceptance.

I didn’t share as I’m usually reticent about doing so. Fear of speaking at AA meetings go ‘way back. I do when I can offer something. I should have today, but was nervous as I had never been to this meeting before.

What I would have said, had I bothered to was something like this:

“Taking death and acceptance, and putting it into our recovery, all I can say is that we’ve already died once. Our old practicing alcoholic selves died when we entered the program and achieved a lasting sobriety. We’ve been reborn, in a way, when we got that sobriety and learned a bit about the Steps.

I think the book “Daily Reflections” has a reading from (I think June) which says something about how we alcoholics are fortunate to have lived two lifetimes in one life. There’s the life we lived as drunks, and now our new one as sober alcoholics.

All we have to do is “keep our side of the street clean” against the eventuality of our own death.”

Not bad. But it was enough to conquer the fear of attending a meeting for the first time, much less expecting me to talk. What I said was hinted at anyway by some other speakers, so really no big deal.

Maybe next time.

NOTE: (26 October 2021.) Well, there never was a ‘next time.’ I went to a few more meetings, started regular meeting attendance in early 2014, but quit after a few months. I do online recovery instead. My sobriety is just as strong as it was when I regularly attended meetings. Which, come to think of it, was really only from 2001-2004! But this is me, if you need regular meetings, by all means…

Additional NOTE: This is a “retropost,” a post from an old blog I wrote on “The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven (& Purgatory) and Hell” that I shuttered a few years ago. Individual posts are being transferred to either In Exile or Sober Catholic, whichever seems appropriate. Some are backdated, others postdated, some edited, in case you’re confused as to why you never saw a particular post if you’re a diligent reader. The process should be completed by early 2022.

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!!)

TO SLAKE A THIRST: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety IS BACK IN PRINT!!!!

Many of you who have ‘been around’ awhile as practicing sober Catholics are devotees of Matt Talbot. Many of you know about, and even possess, the classic book on him which essentially is the ‘basic text’ of a Catholic sobriety movement entitled “To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety” by Phillip Maynard. Well, I have wonderful news: IT IS BACK IN PRINT!!

Several years ago I had emailed the original publisher, Alba House, as to whether or not they were planning to reissue the book since they had let it go out-of-print. They sadly reported there were no plans to reissue it. Flash forward to today. I was planning a Sober Catholic post on the basic devotions and practices that constitute the “Sober Catholic Way.” I recalled Mr. Maynard’s book and wondered about its current status. The Society of St. Paul, as far as I can see, has taken over the Alba House catalog and has reissued it. I do not know when this happened, but I just discovered it today.

You can order it from this link: TO SLAKE A THIRST. Spread the word! 

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!!)

To dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life

The Second Reading from the Office of Readings for Sunday in the 29th week of Ordinary Time of the Liturgy of the Hours is “From a letter to Proba by Saint Augustine, bishop:”

Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for? Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple? There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end.

Courtesy: DivineOffice.org

Indeed, why do we pray for so many things when Heaven fulfills all our desires?

From the Gospel According to Matthew:

Matthew 6:33 “Therefore, seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added to you as well.”

Courtesy: The Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

From God come all things; we seek Heaven above them all. If we seek with all our desire to live in the Lord’s house all the days of our life, and place that above all other things, how can He not give us what we need?

It is such an earnest prayer. It is a prayer in which we desire to come Home most of all, away from this life’s troubles.

Just remember, there’s a difference between praying for what we want and praying for what we need.

NOTE: This is a “retropost,” a post from an old blog I wrote on “The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven (& Purgatory) and Hell” that I shuttered a few years ago. Individual posts are being transferred to either In Exile or Sober Catholic, whichever seems appropriate. Some are backdated, others postdated, some edited, in case you’re confused as to why you never saw a particular post if you’re a diligent reader. The process should be completed by early 2022.

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!!)

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary

September 8th is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; exactly nine months after we celebrated the glorious Feast of her Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

I hope that you readers, as sober Catholics, are doing something special in honor of our Heavenly Mother’s birthday.

You could consider consecrating yourself to her in the manner of St. Louis de Montfort or St. Maximilian Kolbe.

You could attend Mass. If it’s too late because this wasn’t posted in time for a reminder, you could watch one online and make a Spiritual Communion.

Start devotional practices to her in addition to whatever you are doing now.

Develop a filial devotion to her. She is more your mother than she whom gave birth to you; in your Baptism, Mother Mary gave you a new birth into  the sacramental life of grace. Without your baptism, you would not be in the Mystical Body of Christ and therefore would never attain the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven.

She loves you more than any other person on Earth can love you; she desires your salvation more than you do. No matter how grievous your sins she will intercede for you with her Son. All you have to do is ask.

Anyway, this day should be more than just a passing feast day on the calendar. God, from all eternity, decided that He would incarnate among us and he also decided to do it in a very unique way: to be born of a woman and not descend unto Earth in some glorious, majestic and awe-inspiring manner. God’s will is paramount, how He chooses to do something is not a trifling matter. To dismiss the Virgin Mary as insignificant is a grave error. And the birthday of she who bore the Redeemer should be given a great consideration in your sacramental and devotional life.

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!!)

The Anniversary of my Father’s Death

On this date in 1995 my father died.

He and I weren’t very close, (“fathers and sons …”) generational and attitudinal differences separated us.

As a result, I didn’t really grieve over his death. I mean, I was saddened and did feel the loss, but I wasn’t ripped apart by his death like I was over my Mom’s 10 years later.

This relative lack of impact was aided by the fact that I was 2,500 miles away and hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

I went home for his funeral, and reconnected with the family, but when I returned home to California I continued life as usual. I had started drinking heavily to cope with life’s problems a year before (failed romance) and my drinking picked up a little more upon my return, so that may have softened the need to grieve in a sober manner.

The point of this is that although I wasn’t too close to Dad during his life, I am much closer to him now. That would seem strange to non-Catholics, but for believers with a knowledge of the Communion of Saints, that shouldn’t seem strange at all.

Death doesn’t end a life. Death is just a passage from this life to another. This life is temporary, everything “is”, and then passes away to dust and a dim memory. The life after is eternal. Whether that life is spent in Heaven or Hell depends on what you do in your Earthly life.

There is a connection between those of us still here on Earth and those deceased. It is called, as I referenced in a previous paragraph, the Communion of Saints . (Via New Advent.) This is comprised of the “Church Militant” (those still on Earth), the “Church Suffering” (those in Purgatory) and the “Church Triumphant” (those in Heaven). Only the souls that have damned themselves to Hell are excluded.

“Communion” implies a community, wherein the members still can relate to one another. This relation is conducted by the means of prayer. We pray to the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering for their intercessory power with God. We can somehow sense their presence (although admittedly that “sensing” may be wishful thinking).

They are there to help, comfort and console us. We are separated from them by the chasm of death, but that chasm can be crossed eventually by our own deathly passage.

I said earlier in this post that I am much closer to Dad now than while he was alive. I have grown to be much like him, at least with regard to the practice of my Catholic Faith. (I still haven’t taken up woodworking as a hobby, nor returned to fishing as a pastime, but may in time. I do enjoy yardwork, like he did, and love baseball, too.) I understand him better as the years progress and as I grow older.

To anyone who has lost a parent (or anyone beloved) to death, fear not. They are not gone from you permanently. Consider them as just having moved far away, and the distance you need to travel to meet with them again will take the rest of your life.

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!!)

More on the experience of ‘eucatastrophe,’ but from the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe

I am doing my annual novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe ( a different one from the one I publish for my readers) and in it I have been reminded of some examples of ‘eucatastrophe,’ the term coined by JRR Tolkien that I introduced to you in “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” It means a sudden reversal of fortune resulting in a great good; as opposed to ‘catastrophe, meaning something ending in disaster.

Those of you who are familiar with the Life of St. Maximilian know of these; the first example is when he had started printing his monthly newspaper. He was under orders not to incur any debt for the friary he was posted to, and yet when the bill came for the print run for the first issue, he couldn’t afford to pay it. With this catastrophe looming before him, threatening to destroy his apostolate before it even was launched, St. Maximilian turned to Our Lady and prayed for assistance. While leaving the chapel, he noticed an envelop resting upon the altar with the words “For you, Oh Immaculate.” In the envelope was the exact sum in Polish marks that he needed to pay the bill. His apostolate was largely self-supporting afterwards (which is not to say that it never incurred debt, just that the means were eventually found to pay it before disaster!)

Another time was when his apostolate was getting too large for the friary it was based in. St. Max knew that he needed a more centralized location in Poland. The friary was then located in Grodno, in eastern Poland, which is now in Belarus. He desired something more in the country’s interior, perhaps near Warsaw or Krakow. He discovered suitable land, easily near population centers and transportation hubs that was perfect for his needs. Upon approaching the owner of the land, he convinced him that the land should be donated. The property was originally for sale at a price too high for St. Max. Upon discussion, and perhaps being influenced by St. Max’s personality and charm, with no small amount of assistance from the Immaculata, Prince Drucki-Lubecki donated the land. 

These are two examples of ‘eucatastrophe,’ wherein Divine Providence reaches out to someone either in despair or great need, and suddenly they find themselves in a situation markedly different from just before, and a situation that is highly positive and beneficial.

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 now has a Page on LinkedIn!

I just discovered today that LinkedIn offers Pages, just like Facebook, MeWe and SP3RN. I don’t know how long this feature has existed since I don’t use LinkedIn much (this will now change!) but you can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sober-catholic-blog/

Please follow it! Thank you!

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!!)

This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers

The First Reading for the Mass for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) is from 1st Book of  Kings Chapter 19, verses 4-8;

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. 
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD! 
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. 
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water. 
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” 
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

 

I attended the Vigil Mass last night to fulfill one of the requirements for the First Saturday Devotion (receiving Holy Communion) and the First Reading from 1 Kings struck me. Elijah is depressed after having slain the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel. Jezebel took issue with this and has threatened Elijah’s life if she ever caught him, and so now he is on the run. 

Despite his success in defeating the false prophets and showing Israel just Who the True God is, he is at a loss as to what to do next. He feels defeated as he has no support amongst anyone in Israel. This, despite the obvious support of God, by Whom Elijah wrought his victory over the false prophets of Jezebel.

I think many of us can relate; despite obvious signs of Divine Providence in the past, we may be now going through difficult times and are at the end of our proverbial rope. We may even yearn for death; not in any suicidal manner, but just as a release from the uncertainties and transitory ways of our secular life and the joy of hopefully getting to Heaven. There, we find eternal peace, happiness and freedom form anxiety, fear and the need for material support like income and food as well as no longer having to suffer from our own character defects. But we don’t get that; it’s not God’s will that we join Him yet.

But, as Elijah discovers, from within the depths of despair or loneliness comes a sudden reversal of fortune and circumstance. God suddenly has something for him to do and He supplies Elijah with the means to do it. 

I hope we all have had similar experiences. I know one time in late 1993, I was unemployed and facing eviction and on the same day, just in time, I landed a decent job and an apartment. Despair was gone and I felt pretty good about myself for having faced down those threats and survived. (A side note: although I believed in God, this happened during a period when I was not practicing any religion.) 

There is a word for this: Eucatastrophe – Wikipedia:

A eucatastrophe is a sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the protagonist does not meet some terrible, impending, and very plausible and probable doom. The writer J. R. R. Tolkien coined the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically inspired literary criticism to refer to the “unraveling” or conclusion of a drama’s plot.

So, Elijah experienced a ‘eucatastrophe,’ as did I in November 1993. The biggest eucatastrophe is of course, the Resurrection. Eucatastrophes I think happen when things get out of control, either by external circumstances or our own neglect, and God will that He intervenes before we perish. This means He still has plans for us in some way. Perhaps He intervenes despite our past neglect and complacency; perhaps He Wills it to happen so as to show His might and power. Ultimately, all things work to glorify God. My life experience glorifies Him because although at the time I attributed it to my sudden newfound ‘street smarts,’ in retrospect it was done for me by Him in spite of myself. (And I wasn’t even a Catholic, or any kind of Christian!) 

I need a eucatastrophe within a month. I know ‘something’ will happen, but there is the anxiety driven by not knowing when relief will come. But, Faith assures us when Fear tries to tell us the worst will happen. 

We just have to Trust in Him. 

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. Maximilian Kolbe Novena begins August 5th!

An annual post:

August 5th begins a novena to St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, one of my favorite saints for a myriad of reasons. One of them, and not the primary one, even, is his patronage of addicts. He was not an addict himself, but the Church in Her thinking has anointed him for that role by virtue of his death, for he was executed by a lethal injection.

His Feast Day is August 14th.

The following are links to a novena to him I wrote near the time when I began this blog:

The Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe for Alcoholics and Addicts:

Novena Day 1 Novena Day 2 Novena Day 3 Novena Day 4 Novena Day 5 Novena Day 6 Novena Day 7 Novena Day 8 Novena Day 9

There are numerous posts on Sober Catholic about him, the archive of them is here: St. Maximilian Kolbe Post Archive

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!!)

Shhh…. This is a cheat post

I posted something regarding the annual Sober Catholic novena to St.Maximilian Kolbe and noticed in my blog editor that I didn’t post at all in July 2021. That marks the first time that has happened since I began this project in January 2007. Oftentimes I notice near the end of the month that I hadn’t yet posted during it and would cobble up something, anything, and post; I have this crazed dedication to posting at least once a month. 

So, this is a cheat post. It was actually written on August 4th, 2021, but backdated to July 31, 2021. (Just so that the Post Archives dropdown menu doesn’t show a missing month. Oh, yes, I do have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) 😉 

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!!)