The 9th Step Promises

Catholic Alcoholic

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word “serenity” and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we’ve gone, we’ll see how our experiences can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.  Are these extravagant promises?  We think not.  They’re being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will always materialize if we work…

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Flesh and Blood

Holy-Eucharist-catholicism-133989_482_493This blog has been a saving grace for me over the last three weeks.  I’ve been confined to my home, mostly to my bed or couch because of a herniated disc in my lower back.  The pain is bad and it seems my left leg muscles are starting to atrophy a little bit from the encroached nerve and non-use.  (whine)

Blogging each day, committing to being part of  WordPress’  “post-a-day-2013” is therapeutic and an enjoyable way to pass the time. I’ve discovered wonderful Catholic blogs “out there”, as well as hope-filled sobriety ones. Funny how I have come to know many of you–your personalities, simply by reading your words every day.

Prior to this, I’d been a four or five times per week meeting maker in AA.  The meetings are key for me in helping me stay out of my own head, which eagerly waits for me to put my guard down so it can recommend a drink to ease my suffering.  So, this online world has become my temporary meeting spot..the place where I come to read the experience, strength and hope from others and share my own when appropriate.

Many thanks to these bloggers for keeping me on my 12-step toes: Bye Bye Beer, Message In A Bottle, Sober Catholic, Emotional Drinking, Running on Sober, Sober Boots, The Bubble Hour, The Miracle Is Around the Corner and many others…

And since nothing can replace actual flesh and blood, I am so grateful that my sponsor AF and her sponsor SZ brought a meeting to me, since I couldn’t make one in person.  They came to my house on Friday, drank tea with me, read from the Big Book and just talked Steps.  AF was coy to point out too that I could use this time to work on my 4th Step, which I am still procrastinating.  ha ha. Maybe I will work on it today?

I typically don’t ever have the desire to drink anymore. One of the benefits of being sober for a while (define: “for a while”) is the desire to drink pretty much disappears.  Therefore, I’ve spent the big chunk of my time in here reading not recovery but Catholic blogs.  Out in the “real world,” or at least in my real world, I don’t encounter people every day who explore their love of the faith.  So, it’s wonderful to hang out in here with you all, especially these: Biltrix, Conversion Diary, and all the blogs that branch out from Conversion Diary through Jennifer Fulwiler’s 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

But since again nothing here can replace flesh and blood, I am sad to be missing Mass, unable to receive the body and blood of Jesus.  I live a distance away from my parish so I hate to ask our pastor (who no doubt is busy tending to other more pressing matters) to bring the holy Eucharist to me; but maybe my Mom can bring me communion some time later this week.  She receives an email every time I post so she’ll be getting this request soon enough!  XOXO

 

Calix Atlanta

chaliceWe’ve got a date for the first Calix Atlanta meeting and created a web site to give people information about Calix here in Atlanta.  Here is a link to the website–quick and easy template just like this blog.

Calix Atlanta members meet monthly to practice the 11th Step in community with other local Catholics in recovery.

Calix is not Catholic AA. Calix is a lay organization approved by the bishops in the various chapters’ respective dioceses. There are chapters in 21 states in the US. Here in Atlanta, we have just begun process of getting that approval. Calix doesn’t attempt to “sober anyone up.” An alcoholic who is not sober is not ready mentally or spiritually for Calix membership.

Why Calix?

The Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is generally accepted as the best remedy for we who are afflicted with the disease of alcoholism. The Calix Society, an organization of recovering alcoholics, their friends and family, shares this view.

Why is there a Calix Society? What does it do? Answers to these questions are vital to the Catholic recovering alcoholic attempting to achieve and maintain a sober life.

We have spent a long time, often many years, developing a physical dependence on alcohol. Finally by the grace of God, we reach the point where we must change – physically, mentally and spiritually. We manage to put together a short period of sobriety by attending AA meetings and working the 12 Steps.

For Catholic alcoholics; however, sometimes something more is desired to fulfill our spiritual program of recovery. We realize that the 12-Step program advocates recourse to a “higher power,” and is necessarily non-denominational. But having been raised in the Church, rich in tradition, dogma and ritual, we begin to yearn once again for the faith we may have neglected or abandoned when we were drinking.

Through Calix, we reintroduce ourselves to our Catholic Faith, in sobriety. Some important points to consider:

  • 12 Step Programs are necessarily non-denominational and need to remain that way
  • The 12 Steps are not opposed to Catholic teaching; and Calix is not divisive of 12 Step fellowships – it is a true symbiotic relationship.
  • Calix provides an opportunity for those with resentments about the Church to explore those issues by reintroducing Catholic alcoholics to their childhood faith.
  • While it is not a forum for airing grievances against the Church, Calix meetings are a safe place for fallen away Catholic alcoholics to grow in knowledge of their faith.
  • Calix provides Catholic in recovery an opportunity to openly discuss scripture and utilize the Sacraments to enhance their 11th Step work.
  • While Calix is not a forum for airing grievances about 12 Step programs, those skeptical about specific recovery programs are welcome and encouraged in sobriety.
  • Recovery literature suggests alcoholics in recovery might do well to return to the church of their youth.
  • Recovery literature also suggests we would do well to learn about prayer and spiritual matters from clergy. Calix provides Catholic alcoholics a forum to do so.
  • Fr. Ed Dowling convinced leaders in the Catholic Church that there is nothing about the 12 Steps that was contrary to the Church’s doctrines.
  • In a letter to the Calix Society, co-founder of AA Bill Wilson wrote that he found nothing about Calix that was in conflict with AA traditions.

Amen.

Revisiting Calix

calixlogoA few years ago, when I had about 18 months of sobriety I started isolating myself from AA because of the non-denominational aspects. How ironic because it was sobriety and the gift of AA which had initially brought me closer to my faith–but it was an election year (2008); and some of the sharing in meetings felt anti-Catholic.

Election years are hard on me. I always take politics personally–the religious freedom and pro-life positions are very dear to me.

But during the fall of 2008 and winter of 2009, me and three other like-minded folks started meeting monthly in the hopes of forming a Calix chapter in Atlanta. I absolutely loved these meetings. Finally, I found people in recovery who spoke openly about loving being Catholic. After about six months, our little association fizzled before we got approval from the Archbishop to launch a chapter here.

Why did we fizzle out? I have a theory. I think it’s because we weren’t in full agreement with the mission of Calix, which is to “maintain our sobriety through affiliation with and participation in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.” We bonded because we had resentment against AA–and I even started scaling back on meetings hoping that Calix would take the place of AA for me.

That was IMHO the reason for our fizzle. The first sentence of the Calix Credo states, “Calix is an association of Catholic alcoholics who are maintaining their sobriety through affiliation with and participation in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Deep down I was hoping, I think for a “Catholic AA.” And Calix absolutely is not Catholic AA. In fact, in her literature, Calix takes great pains to insist that she is not Catholic AA, that AA is the way to get and stay sober. Calix recommends her members maintain affiliation and participation with AA. Calix sees herself more as an elaboration of and a practicing of the 11th Step: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him.”

As we understand Him.

So that’s where Calix comes in–in practicing the 11th Step Calix meets monthly with other AA members that understand God the same way–through their Catholic faith and Church.

Anyways, I’ve reinstated my membership in Calix (just $25 per year) and will look once again into starting a Chapter here in Atlanta. God has enlightened me by showing me the primary importance of AA in my recovery–so this time I’m not turning to Calix as a substitution, but instead an extension of my program.

As Bill W. stated in a letter to the society (copies available from the office), “This (Calix) presents no problem of A.A. Tradition at all. Of course they (A.A. members) are entitled to join Calix. Nothing is more certain about A.A. than that the principle of the individual’s freedom to practice the religion of his own choice. Our Tradition merely requests A.A. members not to link the A.A. name with other activities.”

Currently there are Calix chapters in 21 states! But there isn’t one in Georgia.

Here again I pray the 3rd Step prayer: God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and do with me as thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do your will. Take away my difficulties that victory of them may bear witness to those I would help of your Power your love and your way of life. May I do thy will always.

Morning Meditations

rosary_balloonsIn meetings and in the steps it seems there is an intended difference between “prayer” and “meditation.”  Step 10-Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God. For me, one of the benefits of growing up Catholic is the learned mixing of the two.

Praying by talking to God about my day, praying for others, praying for my family, prayers before meals and bedtimes. And another form of Catholic prayer that I love is Lectio Divina, which is praying with the Scriptures.  Of course, the Mass is one big community prayer. But when I think of Catholic meditation I think of the Rosary. And Novenas.

For me, meditation isn’t sitting on the floor with my eyes closed focusing on my breath, chanting a centering word over and over.  I definitely see the benefit there and enjoyed it when we did these sessions in treatment. Focusing on my breath brings me into the present. Blocking all distractions from my mind using one word or phrase really does help me get centered–out of my own head so to speak. But it doesn’t feel like a God thing to me.

The ultimate form of meditation is the Rosary. The repetition of the memorized prayers centers my mind. The fingering of the beads gives me that element of touch. Lifting my thoughts to God by remembering the stories of the Bible–the mysteries of our faith.  On Mondays and Saturdays the recommendation is to Joyful Mysteries: Anunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation and the Finding at the Temple.  I can get teary-eyed on the fifth joyful mystery, imagining what Mary felt like after searching for Jesus for three days finally finding him in the Temple. As a mother of sons I can completely relate to Jesus’ response to his mother, “Where else would I be?”

Mom, why do you have to be so dramatic?

Remembering to breathe. Focusing on the present moment. Blocking out distractions. All good.  In fact, that might be the best way to prepare myself for praying the Rosary.  But that isn’t always convenient in a life of wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, business-owner, old-house owner, daugher-in-law. Me? I need to be able to grab my Rosary off my rearview mirror in the  middle of bumper to bumper Atlanta traffic and meditate on the mysteries of my Faith anytime, anywhere.

“The rosary contributes in a privileged way to prolong communion with Christ, and it educates us to live keeping our hearts’ gaze fixed upon him to radiate on everyone and everything his merciful love.”  Pope Benedict XVI

Exploring Step Three: I

AA3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of my God, as we understand God.

CA3: Every day, I surrender my free will over to God.

1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit.  By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator.  By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good.  He finds his perfection “in seeking and loving what is true and good.”
Life in Christ, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1704

God gave me free will.  I can choose the patch to peace or the path to destruction.  Sometimes I choose the path to peace-eventually.  Postponing my arrival by making self-serving decisions, self-seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, discomfort, responsibility but not quite choosing destruction.  Is there a middle way—I believe there IS a middle way.  But the middle way is not the path to peace, to the light.  The middle way is more of being lost without GPS or compass, not intending to go the wrong way necessarily but certainly not being able to go the right way home.

Exploring Step Two: II

AA Step Two: Came to Believe that a Power Greater than myself can restore us to sanity.

Revised CA2: Believe that God exists and performs miracles.


A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.

C.S. Lewis

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.
Winston Churchill

Humanism or atheism is a wonderful philosophy of life as long as you are big, strong, and between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. But watch out if you are in a lifeboat and there are others who are younger, bigger, or smarter.
William Murray

The real attitude of sin in the heart towards God is that of being without God; it is pride, the worship of myself, that is the great atheistic fact in human life.
Oswald Chambers

The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words ‘true’ or ‘false’.
C.S. Lewis

Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening a mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
G.K. Chesterton

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if i did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
C.S. Lewis

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

G.K. Chesterton

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.
C.S. Lewis

There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.
G.K. Chesterton

A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional…values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.
C.S. Lewis

A heathen philosopher once asked a Christian, ‘Where is God’? The Christian answered, ‘Let me first ask you, Where is He not?’
Aaron Arrowsmith

 

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
C.S. Lewis

Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God.
Tom Stoppard

 

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
C.S. Lewis

Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don’t wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.
Peter Kreeft

I was at this time of living, like so many Atheists or Anti-theists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.
C.S. Lewis

God exist whether or not men may choose to believe in Him. The reason why many people do not believe in God is not so much that it is intellectually impossible to believe in God, but because belief in God forces that thoughtful person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God.
Robert A. Laidlaw

There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.
C.S. Lewis

For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.
G. K. Chesterton

A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.
C. S. Lewis

If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.
Evelyn Underhill