First, why I left the Church to begin with. I was a cradle Catholic, born, bred and educated. (Parochial school, K-8. Altar boy.) Although I believed everything taught me, I guess I segregated Catholicism to a corner of my life, and never used it as a filter through which everything is seen. If you live your Faith, then this is necessary, otherwise you’ll have a Faith with an Achilles’ heel. Anyway, I was going through a very bad period in life, kept praying for God to deliver me from it, and that never happened. I started doubting that God was listening, or even cared, and gradually turned to believing that religion was just a bunch of hooey designed as an instrument of control by the powerful, or used as a crutch by the weak. I left the Church and suddenly things started getting better.
So much for that.
Flash forward about 8 years when I was standing inside a bookstore and saw a copy of the new Catechism. “First one in 400 years,” the blurb on the cover said. I picked it up and read the first few paragraphs and was impressed by the writing. And so I bought it. Not that it was really significant as I was a “spiritual but not religious” seeker, and Catholicism was as good a target as any, and I thought I can just pick and choose amongst its teachings, like in a cafeteria. Glanced through it and put it aside, along with stuff on Zen and such. But a seed was planted.
Then a few months later my father died. I returned home for the funeral and despite having a few shots of vodka in me, I paid attention to the sermon. It seemed as if the priest was speaking to me. I do not remember what he said, but it seemed relevant and I had never really felt that way about any homily. The seed was watered.
A few months after that I moved back home to tend to my sick and elderly mother, and needed to go to Mass, not that I wanted too, but because I didn’t want to break her heart about how I felt about the Church. I went out of habit and not desire, and with the increasing alcoholism I paid attention less and depended on liquor more. This continued for several years and I guess during this time the seed was watered ever more. Mom probably suspected something and started praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. She taught it to me with the daily airings on EWTN and especially on Divine Mercy Sunday. To my surprise I kept paying attention more. I still drank, but the seed planted years earlier was starting to take root.
I’ll skip over some things that’ll be covered in my ‘drunkalogue’ when I get to writing it within the next few days, but drinking got worse, I lost a nice job, developed health problems associated with drinking and ended up in the hospital. After leaving, I did nothing but watch EWTN, and read a lot of books that were laying about.
I had been going to AA meetings, but I knew early on that the brand of spirituality offered there was not going to do the job. I knew the 12 steps were going to help, but I needed something more that a vague concept of a “Higher Power”, which could be anything from God of your own making, to AA itself, to a tree stump. In the back of my mind I had known that if God was behind religion, and that religion was not a human construct, then Judeo-Christianity was it, as expressed by the Catholic Church. Bear in mind that I never doubted or disbelieved in God. Atheism was never an option. The idea that all of what you see about you and out to a few billion light-years just came into being on its own accord is ludicrous. But that’s another post for some other time. And so the seed sprouted and started to grow.
AA’s Step Three reads “Made a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God, as you understood Him.” OK, I figured that with 2,000 years of history, the Church understood God better than I ever could. And despite its history it is still around, which tells me that Someone wants it around. You cannot explain that why with all the bad leadership from time to time, schism, heresy, scandal and corruption, a plague or two, wars, invading hordes, how the Church survives. Therefore I can hardly do better than to come full around and start attending Mass willingly, and going to Confession regularly and accept the Catholic Church as the One, Holy, Catholic (i.e. Universal) and Apostolic Faith established by Jesus Christ to teach and defend His Gospel. Step 3 implies that there is no reservation, no holding back, which eliminated any “picking and choosing”. No “cafeteria Catholic” here.
And so that’s that. Been sober continuously since May 22, 2002, and shortly thereafter started willingly going to Mass (daily, sometimes!!) and Confession every 2-3 weeks.
I’ve been hit with 2×4’s on occasion since, namely my Mom’s death in November 2005, and the Faith has pulled me through. So my reversion wasn’t due to vulnerability, ‘soft-headedness’ or any such thing. If that were so, then it would have collapsed.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.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!!)