Today is my Twentieth Soberversary

I have been sober today for twenty years. To me, anniversaries ending in “0” or “5” are monumental. I don’t know why, it just seems that way.

I had to let that sink in. Twenty years. While I am not trying to act out the sin of pride, if you knew me way back when around 2001 and 2002, you’d laugh at the idea of me getting twenty days sober, much less twenty years.

I never had that ‘spiritual awakening’ described in the Big Book of AA; no ‘white light’ or anything like that. My spiritual awakening was of the more gradual kind. I stopped going to liquor stores because I was physically unable to go (which caused a brief period of sobriety of 3 1/2 months); then I returned to drinking over the stress of visits of certain family members; then I stopped because I ran out of booze and it was too late to get to a liquor store. I think during the day I was prevented from going by the family visit and a miscalculation of the amount of booze I had on hand. I don’t recall. So, at some point late in the evening of Wednesday, May 22, 2002 I stopped drinking and went to bed. This was followed by 88 hours of insomnia culminating in some trippy hallucinations. 

I’ve done AA. I began attending meetings in June 2001; didn’t sober up at first until February 2002, but like I said above, relapsed in May. I haven’t considered myself a regular meeting goer since 2004, when I left a meeting in my old Home Group in anger. (I may have blogged about it before, but according to a search of my blog, I apparently didn’t. I’ tell that story in a separate blogpost.) I briefly returned to regular attendance in 2014, but it only last a month or two. I didn’t fit in. I guess I’m just a misfit in a fellowship of misfits. I find AA and the Twelve Steps useful, whilst I don’t bother with meetings, I frequently read the literature when I need a dose. 

Anyway, today is the Feast Day of St. Rita of Cascia. She is known as the patron saint of impossible cases. And, I was quite an impossible case. It’s possible I imagined it, but I think she picked me to be her client. And here’s how she can help YOU in your recovery. As long as I’m posting links to posts on her, you might like this one.

Two other saints assisted in my recovery. One is St. Maximilian Kolbe, founder of the Militia of the Immaculata. I found the his Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin to have been particularly crucial as it provided a tremendous flow of daily graces firming up my convictions and direction (staying sober); as well as of providing a framework within which I can develop my Faith. (NOTE TO SELF: please complete the ‘Daily Marching Orders from Mary’ post. It’s been in draft mode long enough.) Another is the Venerable Matt Talbot, whose way of recovery focuses on transferring your love of booze on to Jesus. You make a gift to Him of your addiction and a relapse means you are taking that gift back. His Way of Recovery is detailed in this excellent book, which all “Sober Catholics” should  have. (There are other saints I am devoted to. St. Therese of Lisieux is another. That book I linked to in the previous sentence suggests that she is ‘the theologian’ of the Matt Talbot Way of Sobriety. Study her “Little Way” and things won’t be the same for you; particularly her thoughts on God’s mercy vs His judgment.).) 

I think I’ll go write that post about why my last regular AA meeting was in 2004 (I don’t count my return in 2014 as it didn’t last long.)

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!!)

Mother’s Day and Polka Music

When I was growing up, my Mom played polka music every Sunday before Mass. I lived in central New York State, and there were a number of ethnic radio programs from the various Syracuse, Utica and Rome stations. With a relatively large Polish-American populatiion, there were a few hours of polka programming each Sunday.

Mom used to wake me up to that way. Like clockwork, every Sunday at 8:30AM I’d be contentedly sleeping in my bed, and then WHAMMO!!!!, flung a few feet in the air to the riotous sounds of “In Heaven There is No Beer, That’s Why We Drink it Here,”  “Roll Out the Barrel,”  “I Don’t Want Her You Can Have Her, She’s too Fat for Me,” and various other classic polka tuneskis.

Needless to say I grew to dislike polka music. Until 2006, my first Mother’s Day without Mom. On that day, I did an odd thing. I felt compelled to hunt down a radio station that played polka music. I still lived in central New York, and many of the stations that Mom listened to were still on the air with polka programming. I found one and played it. 

I listened to polka music for the first time in over a quarter century. And…

…I liked it! It was nostalgic for me and also therapuetic. The healing process that I needed after her death in November 2005 was really helped along.

Polka music is routinely derided and dismissed by people. But, screw ’em. It is toe-tappin’ “happy music.” A great cure for depression. So, it all sounds the same. So does rap and  pop.

I think I’ll go to the living room, turn on the stereo, and blast a local polka station. As I now live in the Buffalo, New York area, with a larger Polish-American population than central New York has, it wasn’t hard. And there are online streaming polka stations, too! My wife is still sleeping, so it might wake her up! I’m sure she’ll appreciate the old family tradition. 😉

Later…

 

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, 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!!)

NOTE TO SELF: Novenas coming up

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. It is in honor of his role within the Holy Family as the provider and breadwinner; inasmuch as he had never said anything recorded in Scripture, there’s the added concept of his humility and quiet service in supporting his loved ones. The Feast was established to combat the Communist unholy May Day celebrations of violent class struggle and atheistic propaganda.

I am posting this to remind myself that there are a lot of Novenas that I say in May, and I had forgotten to say one in honor of St. Joseph the Worker. So, don’t read this post since it’s for me 😉

First up is the Novena to Our Lady of Fatima. Beginning May 4th and ending May 12th, it honors the Marian Apparitions in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. On the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13th begins the Novena to St. Rita of Cascia. (Oh, by the way, on that day in 2019 I joined the Militia of the Immaculata’s affiliated association, the Knights at the Foot of the Cross – those who are members are M.I.’s who particularly offer up their suffering to win the world for the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as to strengthen the M.I.’s mission in that regard. I did not need to remind myself of that, but since you’re ignoring my request to not read this post, I figure I’ll tell you something.) The Feast of St. Rita, who is of great importance to me, falls of May 22nd. That is also my sobriety day; I’ll be 20 years sober then! I love St. Rita because I think she picked me as a client of hers, given the coincidence of her feast day with my sobriety day. Also, I was a tough ex-drunk, definitely not a poster child for early sobriety. Since she is the patroness of “Hopeless Cases,” I think that’s why she picked me. God gave me sufficient reason, or rather graces, to finally stop drinking on May 22, 2002. And St. Rita was put in charge! Thanks St. Rita. (NOTE TO SELF: write more about her, especially during the Novena.) OK, on the feast day of St. Rita begins a novena to St. Joan of Arc. Her feast day is May 30th. I do not have as yet a great devotion St. Joan, but another saintly friend of mine, St. Therese of Lisieux, did. So, to honor that friendship, I started saying a St. Joan Novena a few years ago. (I forgot last year, hence another reason for this post.)

So, from the 4th to the 12, the Fatima novena…. From the13th to the 21st,  the novena to St. Rita of Cascia….. And from the 22nd to the 30th, the novena to St. Joan of Arc. (Novenas typically end on the day before the feast day, but not always. Of you’re a big devotee of St. Joan, you’d probably begin on May 21st. I’ll be a day late but that’s OK.)

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!!)

On the Consecration of Russia AND Ukraine by Pope Francis on March 25, 2022

This upcoming Friday, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. This is the latest in a string of Papal consecrations of Russia done by the Popes since the Virgin made this request in 1917. 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding these consecrations; namely whether or not they were done properly. Many say that when Our Lady requested that Russia be consecrated, it was implied that only Russia should be mentioned. Well, let’s see what she actually said at Fatima:

You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.

This war will end, but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light [this occurred on January 28, 1938], you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.

To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and the world will enjoy a period of peace. In Portugal, the faith will always be preserved…

Source: EWTN

Where in that does it say that Russia alone must be mentioned? It doesn’t. Previous consecrations do not mention Russia, but they mention the World; well, is not Russia a part of the world? If the World was consecrated, and Russia is located on the World, then Russia was consecrated. If you are married with children and tell them that you love them, is your spouse excluded from that declaration just because you didn’t mention them? Yes, of course, your spouse probably would like it if you specifically mention them from time to time, but still, I doubt they’ll feel excluded. 

THERE IS NOTHING IMPLIED in her words that invalidates consecrations if they include things other than Russia, or even that Russia has to be mentioned if it is a part of the thing being consecrated. Admittedly, it ‘would be nice’ if Russia was specifically mentioned, but insisting on that is hair-splitting legalism which I think impugns God’s Mercy and Providence. 

But mercy exalts itself above judgment. James 2:13. 

Source: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

If a Papal consecration used words that effectively consecrated Russia, then it’s good, even if Ukraine was mentioned, the World was mentioned, Humanity was mentioned, or whatever else.

And if you want to bring up, “Well, where is the period of peace promised by her, if past consecrations were valid?” Where is it implied that this would begin immediately afterward? Also, the peace promised was the prevention of what was to be World War II, if you read her words above carefully. “To prevent this…” Russia is to be consecrated. To prevent what? The war she referred to in the previous paragraph, which was World War II. 

SINCE the consecrations were all too late (I think the first was in 1942) the effects were limited. The 1942 one probably ended WW2 earlier than it otherwise would have ended; the 1984 one terminated the USSR (key events leading to the breakup of the USSR occurred on or near Marian feast days.) For the consecration to have had total effectiveness, it should have been done before Hitler’s rise to power, or at least before he re-armed Germany.

I have this alternate history theory that if Pope Pius XI did the consecration before 1933 (when Hitler took power,) or before 1936 (when he announce Germany’s re-armament) then ‘something’ would have happened which would have prevented World War II. Whether that would have been Hitler’s assassination or something else that would have kept Germany from invading her neighboring countries and starting that War is debatable. In this theory, with no European war, the USSR’s military would not have achieved the level of readiness that it did. This means that quite possibly it would have been a target of Imperialist Japan, which had invaded and occupied China in the 1930s. Once Japan consolidated its grip on China, it might have turned north to Siberia. Japan’s military could have easily defeated the Soviet military; this would have embarrassed the Soviet government, and quite possibly stirred a rebellion. I think in the confusion over the loss of eastern Siberia, and unrest at home, certain individuals in the Soviet military would have assassinated Stalin, the Soviet dictator. There is no reason to believe that they would have retained the Communist Party, given that it would have served as an organized opposition to military rule. The Communist Party would have been liquidated. And there you have it, no more would Russia be spreading her errors throughout the world.

The full text of Pope Francis’ Consecration prayer is found on the CNA website

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!!)

Four things to help you get through difficult times

I am going through some ‘stuff’ right now; some personal issues as well as the usual anxieties about world and national events. The latter are bothersome, but I’ve gotten to realize that there’s not much I can do about them apart from prayer. The personal stuff is very worrying and those worries intrude on my limited personal time (evenings and a short weekend.) 

This post is on “Four things to help you get through difficult times” and although they are not new to me nor probably to you, I have been reacquainted with them in my recent spiritual readings and recollections. They are beginning to help me cope with the difficulties that are besetting me.

I have a two-hour Holy Hour on Friday evenings and the one on February 18th spurred much of this. I read a lot of what St. Maximillian Kolbe wrote on ‘suffering’ during that Holy Hour and it summarized or synthesized the entirety of traditional Catholic teachings on it. So here is the first thing:

Suffering. It shows that God is pruning you of pride and self-love; that bearing up with suffering in the spirit of ‘taking up your Cross’ will give you greater glory in Heaven; in a related note, that God is preparing your soul for special graces and this will mark you in a special way when your Earthly exile is over. Now, I had known this, and have even blogged this before, but I needed a reminder. St. Maximilian’s simple and unadorned way of writing helped to knock some sense into me and in presenting these time-honored truths in his simple style, brought them to me as if I was being introduced to them for the first time! That was an amazing Holy Hour. It was as if Jesus knew I needed a primer on suffering and got St. Max to teach me.

The next three things grew from that Friday.

The Present Moment is the second. St. Max didn’t write about this (or at least I can’t recall at this time,) but Mother Angelica of EWTN did write and talk about it a lot, and since I closely associate St. Maximilian with Mother Angelica (there are a lot of parallels in the development of their evangelical ministries), reading St. Max made me think of her and naturally her doctrine of the Present Moment. To describe it briefly, all we have is now. The past is left to God’s Divine Mercy, the future to His Divine Providence; leaving only the here and now to His Divine Grace. God does not give you His special helps (graces) for the past. Nor does He give it to you for the future. His graces are given to you for what is going on right now. This may help with things done in the past, such as healing from trauma and addiction and such, and He may give you a grace now that will develop into something for a future issue, but it is still given to you for where you are now. (The ‘Now’ could be regarded as the intersection of the past with the future; so that may help with understanding the previous sentence.) Anyway, being too worried about the future may cause you to not receive and cooperate with the graces being given to you now. In a way, it’s like you’re driving down a road, craning your neck out the window of your car to see something going on farther down, and a truck coming up from the right that you didn’t see collides with you. You would have seen it had you been paying attention. Ok, a little graphic, but it paints the picture. Naturally, since thinking about St. Max’s writings lead me to think about Mother Angelica, she got me to think about St. Faustina Kowalska, the “Apostle of Divine Mercy,” since Mother’s EWTN is the major promoter of the Divine Mercy devotion. St. Faustina wrote in her diary about the Present Moment:

2 “When I look into the future, I am frightened, But why plunge into the future?

Only the present moment is precious to me, As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.

And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.

And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart Burning with love for Your greater glory.

Trust in Jesus is the third thing. Since Max lead me to Angelica, and she lead me to Faustina, the big thing about the latter is the whole ‘Jesus I Trust in You’ theology of the Divine Mercy message. Trust in Jesus. He’s got your back, so to speak. He knows more than you do what’s going on with you, and why. Trusting in Him gives Him great delight; it allows Him to operate more freely within your soul, granting you the graces needed to help you get through ‘stuff.’ And it is a soothing balm to comfort you in trying times. All that is within your reach you can deal with; beyond that (the past, the future, and contemporary trials that are beyond your control) is in God’s hands. If your relationship with God has developed where you believe it’s now a personal one, then this should not be too hard. You love God, you know He loves you, it’s not hard to trust in the ones you love. I know, (trust me, I know!) that it is difficult at times to take that ‘leap of faith’ and believe that Jesus will ‘take care of the matter,’ but when this happens, think about all the times in the past when Jesus rescues you from a situation. Why would He abandon you now?

Trust in the Blessed Mother is the fourth thing. You have to have a pretty good devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary to get this. But it does bring things to a full circle; Maximilian took me to Angelica, who took me to Faustina who took me back to Maximilian. Not surprising since Faustina and Max were Polish contemporaries and their teachings parallel each other. St. Maximilian wrote that “Whatever does not depend upon our will is surely the will of the Immaculata.” This takes some meditation to get. In essence, he means that whatever is beyond the grasp of our will, falls within the grasp of Mary’s. It is his teaching, as well as that of many other great Marian saints, that Mary’s will is identical to that of God’s. Since Our Lady was conceived with Original Sin, she didn’t suffer concupiscence. She never sinned. Sin is essentially turning your will away from God’s. Therefore, her will was always united to God’s. So, we can conclude that since Our Lady is in Heaven watching over us and interceding on our behalf, what she wants for us is the same as what God wants. Trusting in the Blessed Mother and her maternal intercession is complementary to trusting in Divine Providence and Jesus. Our basic trust in Our Lady is evident in the Hail Mary prayer:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace; 
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners, 
now, and at the hour of our death.

AMEN

There, she is praying for us now, and at some future time when we die. If you are consecrated to her in some manner, such as by the method of St. Louis de Montfort or St. Maximilian Kolbe, then you belong to her and are under her special protection as well as guidance. Entrust your problems, your ‘stuff’ to her and her Son. Using inspiration, graces, including perhaps signal graces, Jesus and Mary will lead, guide, console, and intervene. Patience is necessary since Heaven’s Time is not ours. But then we go back to the first thing, suffering, which we can offer up in redemption for our sins, those of others, and for the general intercessory powers of Heaven.

Now, regarding that quotation from St. Maximilian, “Whatever does not depend upon our will is surely the will of the Immaculata.” There is a tricky thing about that. Our will is that tricky thing. If our will is united to God’s will, to the best of our ability to discern that, then anything beyond that is the will of the Virgin Mary. And what depends upon our will is helped by God’s grace. That’s great. Solutions to the ‘stuff’ are in the works. But, if our will is mostly self-willed pride, and therefore divorced from God’s will, then there lies a problem. What depends upon our will is going to be a great struggle, a tremendous burden, and a trial. We may begin to doubt ourselves, our pride is wounded or we get angry and aggressive. Perhaps the ‘stuff’ that you are going through is the result of your self-willed pride. Perhaps not. (This is what I am attempting to discern about my ‘stuff.’ Am I doing God’s will? Or I’m not and I’m suffering as a result? Or I am and His will is for me to suffer the ‘stuff’ right now? Who knows? (And neither do you since I haven’t identified the ‘stuff’ I’m going through 😉 )

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!!)

Things said at funerals

Today is my birthday. And I’m going to discuss funerals. I’ve been to a number of funerals, as we all. One thing I’ve noticed, and this has been commented upon quite often in the Catholic blogosphere and social media: the deceased are canonized. It’s understandable, but it its also uncharitable. If you are attending a funeral, it is quite likely that you are doing so because you’ve had a relationship with the one deceased, whether they were a loved one, such as parent or spouse, or just a friend or coworker. Therefore we do not like to think of that person as having descended to Hell, or is even in Purgatory. We prefer to think of them as having gone straight to Heaven.

There is no reason to assume that the deceased is already in Heaven. While that may be comforting to us, it may also be cruel to the deceased if they are in Purgatory, being there as a result of being insufficiently detached from Earthly desires and pleasures at the time of death. We as a culture dislike talking about sin, as if that makes us “judgmental” about other people’s behavior. We seek to avoid offending them. And in doing so, behavior stands uncorrected, and people perhaps wind up paying for it in the afterlife.

I have little idea what was said or done at funerals before, say, 1970. I do know that priests wore black vestments. Perhaps they focused less on Jesus’ Resurrection than is common today and more on the suffering and death of Jesus. I would imagine that Purgatory was referred to in a respectful and prayerful manner, so as to provide an awareness to the living about the reality of it, and some comfort to the loved ones of the deceased that people would be praying for their soul. I don’t know.

At my funeral, I want the priest to wear black, and go on and on about Purgatory. Maybe the funeral home can have selected literature on Purgatory available and stapled to my Holy Cards.

But don’t assume I’m in Heaven.

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 very slowly being transferred to either In Exile or Sober Catholic, whichever seems appropriate. Some are backdated, others postdated, 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!!)

Blog History and a new job!

It has come to my attention that I last posted here about six weeks ago. This means history has been made here at Sober Catholic! December 2021 was the very first month without any blogposts. I was going to say “That’s nothing to be proud of!” but when you consider I’ve been doing this since January 2007, that is an accomplishment. OK, a few times I ‘cheated,’ realizing on the first of a month that I missed the previous one; so I’d write a quickie post and backdate it. (At least I issued a disclaimer announcing the backdating.) I thought about doing that again, but as the days of January marched on, I succumbed to blogging honesty and decided against such chicanery. 

History was also made on January 5th, when this blog celebrated (quietly) its 15th bloggaversary.

I have had some good reasons for missing December 2021 and half of January 2022. Times had gotten a bit difficult. The stress of the Christmas season (from the secular side) plus some personal struggles had contributed to blogging neglect. I have been out of work for a while since the COVID pandemic ended my regular job in 2020. Relying on the additional pandemic unemployment insurance while it lasted, I also had been searching for a work-at-home position. A few came and went; some turned out to be bogus, or otherwise not what they seemed, and in December 2021 things seemingly looked up. I found a ghostwriter content job, which actually turned out to be painful. While I appreciated the opportunity, given the time spent writing, and factoring in the fixed rate of payment for the articles, I’d be making minimum wage. For 1979. And then…

… I found another. I have been a member of a certain online community dedicated to permaculture and homesteading for quite a while and took to the welcoming and informative atmosphere. I won’t mention the specific place for the time being, but after a fashion, I will come back and edit this with the actual identity. (People good with search engines and intuition can probably guess.) Anyway, for some odd reason the community took to me as well, and OK, to make a long story short, the … interesting… fellow who runs the place needed a virtual assistant and I thought, “What the hooey, I’ll try for it.” Well, if I ain’t a worm wriggling around in a fresh compost heap, but I got the job! Been doing it for almost a month. I work six days a week (he’d like seven, but that so isn’t happenin.’ )

Futures are always uncertain, but I had to trust in Divine Providence. The very idea that I’d be working for this dude would have been considered utterly ridiculous just a few months ago. This place relies a lot on volunteers, and they periodically go through a process of ‘promoting’ regular members into positions of greater responsibility in their forums. That happened to me last Summer or Autumn. I was shocked. But in retrospect, I think I can see the hand of Divine Providence at work in it since that ‘promotion’ was the seemingly natural progression of my involvement there since I started in their forums when the pandemic hit. I took to gardening a lot, and the site is a great one for that, and I freely shared my experiences. The site became one of the few ‘happy places’ for me online during the traumas of 2020 (pandemic and the US Presidential election.) 

During all of this I prayed: prayed to get through 2020, then 2021, and through it all that I obtain a ‘job suitable to my talents.’ It took a while, but it finally arrived last month. I could not have applied for this job in 2020, or even during most of 2021. It was only because of the amount of time I spent on the forums, growing in the knowledge of the place which lead to the site’s volunteers noticing me and ‘promoting’ me to a position of responsibility that gave me the confidence that I might have a chance.

There is a lesson in this. And that is PRAYER works, and quite often the answer is in God’s time, not yours. It certainly would have helped for me to have gotten this much earlier, except that it would not have been possible until I had achieved certain skills or a reputation. I like to think, now, that God had been answering this all along, from the Spring of 2020 which coincided with my participation in this particular site. He was shaping me to be the person suitable for this assistant’s job for well over a year. God exists outside of time, and He knows the future that works out from amongst all the possible ones. And He knew that this place would be needing a new assistant for the guy who runs it. And He drew me along, keeping me (somewhat) free of despair over finances and economics until the job was ready and I was ready for it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I can go all “Lah-dih-dah! God got me this job and I can just do whatever! It’s mine!” No, while I believe He did help me obtain it,  now I have to rely on His graces to keep it and do it well. When God answers your prayers, you have to be grateful, and take it for granted.

Life is interesting. Sometimes I wish it were less so, but it is what it is. OH!! Yumpin’ Yiminy! I almost forgot! NEXT YEAR YOU HAVE TO SAY THIS PRAYER! I THINK IT WAS THE FINAL KEY, THE CORNERSTONE THROUGH WHICH MY JOB SEARCH PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED: The St. Andrew Christmas Novena. It worked! I said it in 2020, with no apparent success. But, as I said above, it may have been part of the manner by which I was ‘prepared,’ for the answer. Leading up to that, I would also like to publicly thank, in no particular order (I sound like I’m an Oscar or Emmy winner thanking all the people who helped me along the way.) St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, and St. Joan of Arc. I think they were all the saints I… OH, and St. Gemma Galgani, can’t forget her! And obviously, a BIG SHOUT OUT to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph! 

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 begins November 30th

The St. Andrew’s Christmas Novena begins November 30th. It is piously believed that if you say this prayer fifteen times a day from November 30th (The Feast Day of St. Andrew, the Apostle) until December 24th, you will obtain what you prayed for. I think that the usual conditions apply: that it be in accordance with God’s will, that it not be detrimental to your salvation, and if it requires some effort on your part, that you do that (i.e. job hunting, finding a spouse, etc.) It is believed to have originated in Ireland in the late 19th Century.

You might think that fifteen times a day is difficult. I break it up: fives times with my Morning Prayers, five times with my Evening Prayers, and perhaps five times during the 3 PM Hour of Mercy or at bedtime. 

Here it is:

St. Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

[Pray this prayer 15 times daily from November 30-December 24 for your special intention]

I just remembered that I blogged about it last 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!!)

Immaculate Conception Novena begins today

Today begins the Immaculate Conception Novena (November 29 through December 7th. It’s all right if you get this too late and begin it on November 30th, it’ll end on December 8th, the actual Feast Day.)

The Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary was exempt from Original Sin by virtue of the anticipated merits of the death and resurrection of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is entirely fitting with the prerogatives of God the Father, for Whom all things are possible. And it is perfectly in keeping with what Scripture says regarding the Fall of Adam and Eve and the subsequent tainting of our human nature with Original Sin. Everyone is born with Original Sin which is cleansed from us by Baptism, and all those who are not baptized are essentially subject to the Devil’s rule. If Mary was subject to Satan from contracting Original Sin, then so would Jesus when He was conceived. This is untenable and thus Mary was preserved from that Sin. Given that Jesus only had genetic material from Mary, this gets around the obvious counterpoint that well, why wasn’t just Jesus preserved? That is possible, but only if He had also received genetic material from Joseph, as well. But Joseph was not His biological father. The Holy Spirit ‘fathered’ Jesus. How could the Holy Spirit espouse Himself to a person enslaved by Original Sin? That is as untenable as the idea of Jesus being under Satan’s rule! Therefore, unless Jesus was the biological son of both Joseph and Mary, His Mother had to be preserved from Original Sin. To think otherwise is blasphemy and anathema! 

An additional point is also made that wouldn’t God, Who knew from all Eternity His plan of Salvation, and decided that His Son would be born of a woman rather than Incarnate as a mighty king and lord fully grown, wouldn’t He have taken great pains to decide upon the formation of she who would bear His Son? If YOU had the opportunity to design your own mother, wouldn’t YOU insist that she the among the most beautiful, intelligent, and talented of all? One of the Ten Commandments holds that we should “Honor our Father and Mother,” well, wouldn’t God also follow that? Even one was to declare that He is not subject to His own Commandments and laws, why wouldn’t He follow that one at least, to provide an example?

EWTN has a nice Novena. You can find it here: EWTN Immaculate Conception Novena.

As sober Catholics, we should have a particular devotion to Our Immaculate Mother. What better person to unite our prayers and suffering to than a wholly pure and stainless one? Especially considering the depth of our own sins? Our loving Mother care for us and like any good Mama, dusts us off, washes us clean with her prayers and intercessions and present us to her Son. 

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!!)

A Vision of the Judgment Seat of God

In her diary, ‘Divine Mercy in my Soul,” St. Maria Faustina Kowalska writes of when she was given the gift of appearing before the judgement seat of God:

36 Once I was summoned to the judgment [seat] of God. I stood alone before the Lord. Jesus
appeared such as we know Him during His Passion. After a moment, His wounds
disappeared except for five, those in His hands, His feet and His side. Suddenly I saw the
complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to
God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for.
What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy God! Jesus asked
me, Who are you? I answered, “I am Your servant, Lord.” You are guilty of one day of
fire in purgatory.
I wanted to throw myself immediately into the flames of
purgatory, but Jesus stopped me and said, Which do you prefer, suffer now for one
day in purgatory or for a short while on earth?
I replied, “Jesus, I want to suffer in
purgatory, and I want to suffer also the greatest pains on earth, even if it were until the end
of the world.” Jesus said, One [of the two] is enough; you will go back to earth, and
there you will suffer much, but not for long; you will accomplish My will and My
desires, and a faithful servant of Mine will help you to do this. Now, rest your head
on My bosom, on My heart, and draw from it strength and power for these
sufferings, because you will find neither relief nor help nor comfort anywhere else.
Know that you will have much, much to suffer, but don’t let this frighten you; I am
with you.

What a gift! To be given this opportunity before one dies to see yourself as God see you. Fully transparent, everything exposed in the light of God’s Justice. An opportunity to see ALL of your sins, flaws, faults, and “character defects,” and still have the time to do something about them.

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, 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!!)