7 Quick Takes Friday: Seven 7-Quick-Takes

I’m a day late. Yikes!  Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

“I am invariably late for appointments.  I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.”Marilyn Monroe

7quicktakesYes, I am late. In this post I’m simply going to do a synopsis of my first 7-Quick-Takes. So, (drumroll) voila!:

1. Seven Role Models for Catholic Alcoholics

In this post, I list seven incredible people, Catholic clergy and religious, who have overcome their alcoholism and went on to help others:  Sister “Molly Monahan,” Father Joseph Martin, Father Emmerich Vogt, Father Ralph Pfau, Father Francis Canavan, Father Jim McKenna, and of course the Venerable Matt Talbott.

2. Seven Greetings of “Happy Woman’s Day” from a Politically Incorrect Full-Blooded American Woman

In this post, I am a little cheeky about how old school feminists have hi-jacked what it means to be a woman. I don’t relate to them at all and I write about how these feminists have in essence actually hurt women.

3. Seven Reasons I Like Alcoholics Anonymous

In this post, I wrote about how to the traditional, practicing Catholic, AA might seem a little too non-denominational and new agey, but by finally overcoming my uncomfortability with AA I was able to accept help from other women in the meetings—women that God had sent to me to walk me through the 12 Steps.

4. Seven Things I Do NOT Miss Now That I am Sober

In this post, I painfully recalled some not so graceful moments from my past and used wisdom from the saints, Scripture and theologians to hit home the message that sobriety is key for me.

5. My Seven Favorite Saints

In this post, I wrote about these seven saints: Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Philip Neri, Saint Therese de Lisieux, Saint Bernadette, Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Catherine of Siena, and my own mother–future Saint Claire of Brooklyn.

6. Seven Pilgrimage Sites in the Southeast

In this post, I detailed seven pilgrimage sites within driving distance from Atlanta: Monastery of the Holy Spirit, The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (where Husband and I got married!), The Shrine of Saint John Berchmans, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, Ave Maria Grotto and my favorite, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.

7. Seven Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Celebrate the Season

In this post, in the middle of the Christmas parties, I gave yummy recipes for non-alcoholic drinks we can concoct to take part in the festivities without losing consciousness.

7 Quick Takes Friday: 7 Role Models for Catholic Alcoholics

matt talbot

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

7 Role Models for Catholic Alcoholics

1. Venerable Matt Talbott

Matt Talbott was born in the poverty of Dublin’s inner city. He began drinking at twelve years of age and became a chronic alcoholic. It was the drug culture of the 19th century. Matt was an addict.

After a horrendous sixteen year struggle, he found sobriety.  He decided to ‘kick the habit’. A priest helped him, giving him a rehabilitation program, which providentially incorporated aspects and principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the help of this Priest friend Matt modeled his life on that of the monks, who lived in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries.7quicktakes

He remained sober for forty years until his death. His life story has been an inspiration for alcoholics and addicts throughout the world. He is a candidate for canonization in the Church and has achieved the title of “venerable.”

Matt’s program of recovery was built around devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary, Mother of God, spiritual reading, self-discipline and manual work. But he never forgot his struggle with his addiction.

“Never look down on a man, who cannot give up the drink”, he told his sister, “it is easier to get out of hell!” (Matt Talbott)

Here is an 8 minute YouTube video telling the story of Matt Talbott.

seeds of grace book2. “Sister Molly Monahan” (not her real name), author of Seeds of Grace

Sister Molly Monahan” wrote a wonderful book a decade or so ago about her experiences with alcoholism and recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous. She had been drinking, quietly and compulsively, for years when she finally decided to attend her first AA meeting. There she found the emotional support that AA is famous for-but she also found a surprising source of spiritual strength. In this unique book, she reflects on how a nonreligious group brought about such a powerful reawakening of faith-and explores gratitude, community, forgiveness, prayer, and many more subjects of interest not only to alcoholics but to anyone on a spiritual quest.

“Monahan’s unique understanding of both the human and spiritual side of alcoholism forms an important, personal understanding of theology in action.” (Library Journal)

Sister “Molly” was trained in the methods of Ignatian Spirituality, had made week-long retreats annually, had studied spirituality and obtained a graduate degree in theology, yet as she writes, “None of this prevented me from becoming an alcoholic.” And she claims that without Alcoholics Anonymous’ spiritual program of recovery she would be “spiritually bereft.” That is a big statement!  She had all the spirituality and knowledge of Catholic sacramental life yet still couldn’t break the alcoholism cycle until she made it into AA.

I wrote a review of her book here.

Vogt3. Father Emmerich Vogt, “12-Step Review”

Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. is a Dominican priest of the Western Dominican Province. Educated by the Dominican Order at its seminary in California, Fr. Emmerich went on to receive a MA degree in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and a graduate degree in Near Eastern Religions from University of California.

THE 12 STEP REVIEW is a publication of the Western Dominican Province, a nonprofit organization of the Dominican Fathers and Brothers, and is founded and edited by Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. It is published four times a year through donations. Father Vogt travels around the country giving retreat talks on Christian principles within 12 Step spirituality. Sober for 30 years, Vogt wrote a book published last year The Freedom to Love and continues to make his talks and retreats available on CD and DVD.

The site 12 Step Review is maintained by volunteers and offers a wonderful resource for today’s recovering Catholic alcoholic. My mother attended sessions of his retreat in Johns Creek, Georgia a couple of weeks ago and said they were wonderful and appealing to all types of relationship dilemmas, with the focus on 12 Step process of recovery.

father jim4. Father Jim McKenna (1953 – 2006)

Fr. Jim’s lifelong dream to become a Catholic priest came true in 1960. At that time he took a pledge to refrain from alcohol for five years. In 1965, while he was fulfilling his priestly duties he started enjoying occasional cocktails.

He later went for an evaluation and it was decided that while he was a good priest, he was also an alcoholic. After three months in Guest House in Minnesota, an addiction treatment rehab for Catholic clergy and religious, he returned to Bergen County and attended AA meetings.

Fr. Jim was assigned to Oradell’s St. Joseph’s R.C. Church where he started the recovery mass for anyone affected by the disease of alcoholism, with the hope of giving more people an opportunity to leave the “Hell” of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and perhaps find the “Heaven of Sobriety.” The Third Saturday mass began with 18 people and quickly spread to over 500. Fr. Jim began each mass with, “Hello, my name is Jim and I am an alcoholic”; and all felt welcome.

This is a special Mass for all who are affected by the disease of Alcoholism. The Recovery Mass continues on even after Father Jim’s death and is held on the third Saturday of every month.

“Alcoholism is a disease, not a bad habit.” (Father Jim)

FatherCanavan5. Father Francis Canavan (1917 – 2009)

An author of more than 10 books and a political philosopher who inspired and encouraged many students at Fordham, Father Canavan taught for 22 years in the Department of Political Science. He wrote prolifically about liberalism and Catholic social teaching, and, during the 1960s, served as associate editor of America magazine. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

During the 1980s, Father Francis Canavan had given inspirational talks to members of the Calix Society, which were compiled into a pair of books, The Light of Faith and By the Grace of God. I haven’t read them but intend to. They are both available via the Calix Society website.  He was the spiritual director for the Calix Society for many years.

Here is part of the talk he gave on the topic of the 2nd Step “Coming to Believe:”

“[Coming] to believe is a process that goes on all our lives and is never completely finished. No matter how deeply we believe, we can always believe more deeply, and God will lead us to a steadily more profound faith through the experiences of our lives, if we will let Him. But what is of immediate interest to us here is the coming to believe of the person who has little or no faith in God. “Acting as if” is the way in which he begins the process of coming to believe.” (Father Canavan)

fathermartinpicture6. Father Joseph Martin (1924 – 2009)

Father Joseph Martin, after ten years of priesthood, was encouraged to get help for his alcoholism. He was treated at the Guest House in Orion, Michigan. After getting sober he presented the “Chalk Talk”- a blackboard presentation that helped earn Father Martin national recognition as an authority on addiction.

“Chalk Talk” was filmed by the U.S. Navy for use in drug and alcohol education around the world. Father Martin later received multiple awards for his work with addiction in various branches of the military.

Father Martin and Mae Abraham (an alcoholic who was helped by the “Chalk Talk.”) sought resources to open a chemical addiction treatment center based on Father Martin’s philosophies of treatment, including his heartfelt belief that every addict is worth saving. A 20-acre property, the Oakington estate in Havre de Grace, Maryland was the perfect location for a treatment center.

Finally, Father Martin’s Ashley opened its doors to the first group of patients. The center was named for co-founder Father Martin, as it was his treatment philosophy that would be the basis of patient care. Soon he helped establish the Ashley Relapse Treatment program, which incorporates the Gorski Relapse Prevention Model, 12 Step approaches and Father Martin’s treatment philosophy.

Father Martin’s published a book No Laughing Matter, compiling three of his talks—”The Chalk Talk”, “Guidelines” and “Alcoholism and the Family.” The Rainbow of Hope Children’s Program was started at FMA. Held one Saturday each month, the program is open to all children who live in homes with addiction.

“He (Father Martin) is the master mentor who teaches and touches at the same time.” Robert Ackerman, Ph.D.

pfau7. Father Ralph Pfau (1904 – 1967)

He is believed to have been the first Roman Catholic priest to enter Alcoholics Anonymous and is affectionately known also as “Father John Doe.”

He was a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, ordained at St. Meinrad Seminary, and received an MA in Education at Fordham University.

In the opening paragraph of his autobiography, “Prodigal Shepherd,” Father Pfau wrote:

“All my life, I will carry three indelible marks. I am a Roman Catholic priest. I am an alcoholic. And I am a neurotic.”

He had never a drink until about a year after his ordination. But by 1943 he was sufficiently worried about his drinking to investigate A.A. While responding to a call from a woman who said her husband was dying, he learned from the doctor that the man was not dying, but merely passed out from a combination of alcohol and barbital. As Fr. Pfau was leaving the house he noticed a book on a shelf and asked if he could borrow it. It was “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

AA history recalled by a member who attended the first International A.A. Convention in Cleveland in 1950, speaks of how Father Pfau helped insist that AA remain non-religious.

In this first Convention in 1950, at the ‘Spiritual Meeting’ the main speaker’s topic, “dealt with the idea that the alcoholic was to be the instrument that God would use to regenerate and save the world. He expounded the idea that alcoholics were God’s Chosen People and he was starting to talk about AA being ‘The Third Covenant,’ when he was interrupted by shouted objections from the back of the room. The objector, who turned out to be a small Catholic priest (Father Pfau), would not be hushed up. There was chaos and embarrassment as the meeting was quickly adjourned.” As the member recalls Father Pfau’s objections:

” How well we shall always remember that A.A. is never to be thought of as a religion. How firmly we shall insist that A.A. membership cannot depend upon any particular belief whatever; that our twelve steps contain no article of religious faith except faith in God — as each of us understands Him. How carefully we shall henceforth avoid any situation which could possibly lead us to debate matters of personal religious belief.”

***

So there you go! This is a great list but where are all the Catholic alcoholic women?  “Sister Molly Monahan” on this list but she remains anonymous.  hmmmm..  I am going to have to scout out Google (or Bing, if I’m feeling counter-cultural) for women Catholic alcoholics.  Where are we?

7 Quick Takes: 7 Greetings of “Happy Women’s Day” from a Politically Incorrect Full-blooded American Woman

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

Solomon-with-babyInternational Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year.  Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In the West, however, the political and human rights theme of the policies of the United Nations takes over—The UN as usual messes up a good thing.

1.  Happy Women’s Day to the American women that have been persuaded and lied to by a so-called “feminist movement,” which tries to convince them having an abortion will solve their “problem.” These women have suffered emotional and spiritual consequences because they believed the lie that abortion was a simple “choice,” one choice among many choices. Abortion is harmful to women. As a mother of two American boys, I re-commit today to raise them to support and love women. And instruct them if they God forbid get a young woman pregnant before marriage they are to encourage and love her, support her financially and never give her a reason to abort her baby.

WomenSaintsPoster6352.  Happy Women’s Day to the women in Africa who are being inundated with representatives from our country and the United Nations with slogans like, “Reproductive Rights” and “Reproductive Healthcare.”  The push to infiltrate developing countries with the “solution” of condoms and the morning after pill will no doubt create the same failed scenario we have here in the US—record numbers of abortions, children being raised without fathers, more poverty for women and children and deteriorating attitudes of men towards women sexually. And more importantly, these reproductive “rights” policies harm women emotionally and spiritually. Condoms have not solved America’s AIDS or STD problems, but we still push it on African women because we believe the lie.  I recognize the “good intentions” of these programs (to curb sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies) but the “results” are staggeringly unsuccessful.

3.  Happy Women’s Day to all the young girls and women here in Atlanta, who have been swept up into the sex traffic trade.  Atlanta is one of the top US cities for sex trafficking of young girls (and boys).  Despite valiant efforts of local and national authorities only a little progress has been made to stop this horrific situation. Prayers and money and an all-out assault on the organizations that engage and profit from this industry is greatly needed. And let’s publish the names of the men who are the “customers” of these abominable acts.

4. Happy Women’s Day to the underprivileged and poor women suffering real in-equality throughout the world. While money is funneled into “reproductive health care” initiatives for developing countries, real women are suffering real discrimination and inequality in places like Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Women are raped, murdered, beaten and suffering from forced genital mutilation by a sick misunderstanding of cultural and religious traditions. If only the enormous resources and funds that go to the abortion industry would be directed to the real suffering women we could possibly change minds and attitudes in other countries. We could save many of these women from these abuses.

5.  Happy Women’s Day to all the tireless women (and there are many of us!) who without resources continue to pray, fight and advocate for women against the formidable and well-funded opponents like the Obama Administration, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the women who grew up believing the lies that abortion is a “choice.”

6.  Happy Women’s Day to the working mothers in our country who struggle to balance work and family life. Tax policies in the US make it nearly impossible for single income households to survive and thrive, so women who would rather work part-time or stay home while their children are young are unable to do so and still make ends meet.  And Happy Women’s Day to the women who do want to work full-time but they stress themselves out and sacrifice so much to make sure their children have excellent, nurturing child-care; and they manage to give quality love and attention to their children despite the difficulties of balancing it all.

women friends7.  Happy Womens’ Day to my five sisters.  All of you are truly my personal heroes.  Each day you work and care for your families in ways that are heroic. Number 2, your tireless work with middle and high school youth to help them combat the pressures on them through your talents as a playwright and artist. Using art and drama, you bring these youth out of their shells so they can face and fight peer pressure and bullying. Number 4, your amazing courage and fortitude, leaving an abusive marriage and raising your son to be a fine young man despite his father’s shortcomings. Number 5, your hard work at the high school planning all the events, running the back end of your husband’s business, and running a household with three children, plus maintaining your ministry to encourage and instruct others on the Faith. Number 8, you amaze me. As young parents, you and your husband have relied on faith and hard work and have raised two amazing young adults who are sure to make a difference out in the world. At the same time you’ve moved up the ladder in your career, gotten a Master’s Degree and achieved so much success. And Number 11, oh my only baby sister! You are a brilliant doctor and your decision to stay home with your girls while they’re little took a lot of sacrifice but you didn’t hesitate to do it! You’re a natural and wonderful mother! You keep up with your continuing ed and are instilling your brilliance into your sweet girls—I am still blown away by how well they can read and their vocabulary at three years old!

7quicktakesSo that’s it. I know I’m not “politically correct.”  And I’m so glad I’m not. I’m so glad I didn’t believe the lie pushed at me growing up that feminism means abortion rights.  I credit my strong mother, her incredible example (she’s a doer–not a talker, like me) of devotion to her Faith, her children and her husband.  I watched you, Mom. I was always watching you. And I am so grateful for the gifts you’ve given me and the worldview you’ve instilled in me without saying a word.  I love you, Mom!

Number 9

7 Quick-takes: 7 Reasons I Like Alcoholics Anonymous

aa-logo2Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

7 Reasons Why I Like Alcoholics  Anonymous

1. Meetings

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I was always an A/B student. There are plenty of folks much smarter than I, especially probably psychiatrists and counselors. But for some reason, every time I’ve ever gone to a therapist I’ve found myself figuring out what it was she wanted me to say, then saying that.

I’m certain the therapist saw right through me.

I’d try to impress her by how introspective I was, while at the same time try to get her to like me by pretending I had all this self-awareness. If I had been honest and open to the process, I could have learned a thing or two and been truly helped. I believe in therapy, but I never did it right.

I assumed AA meetings were group therapy for drunk people, so I stayed away because “therapy didn’t work for me, right?”  Once I checked it out, though I found it is not like therapy. I am absolutely unable to get away with my bull-crap. I have to be painfully honest, in a way at first I didn’t know how to be, because inevitably the truths that come out during a meeting are so real that saying anything other than the God’s honest truth is obvious to all.  Common phrase in AA is, “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” It’s quite refreshing, actually!

2. Fellowship

The last thing I wanted was new friends, especially with all these sober women. I had five sisters who were my best friends plus a non-family BFF, plus two kids, a husband, a house and a business to run. Understanding that any new friendships I made would take time, take me away from my already filled priorities, I decided I wouldn’t reach out to make new friends.

Plus, the word ‘fellowship” bugged me. That seemed like a thing Protestants did on Wednesday nights. It wasn’t a Catholic thing. And slogans like, “You Are Not Alone” rubbed me the wrong way because I wanted to be left alone. I was quite independent, thank you very much, so maybe you guys need fellowship but not me.

7quicktakesAfter sitting in the meetings for months, I found that I really liked these sober women.  I learned their stories, their struggles and mostly admired their courage in facing life on life’s terms.  But still I didn’t reach out.

It wasn’t until I relapsed and found that I couldn’t get back to my sober life without help, that I reached out in desperation.  And, immediately these women I had kept at arm’s length came to my rescue. And ever since then I’ve discovered the (evolving) fellowship is one of my favorite things.

3. “Sharing”

AA, like any other “organization” has developed its own lingo.  “Sharing” is when you raise your hand talk for three to five minutes in a meeting.  Initially sharing terrified me. And the more I tried to sound smart and evolved when I shared the more I was left feeling like a goof.

For example, in the beginning I would share something like this: “It’s so hard for me to stop drinking because I am married to my drinking buddy. Every day I come home to the one person I love to drink with the most. If only he would stop drinking too then I would be able to stay sober.”

Uh-uh.  This just wasn’t “honest.”  Sure it would have worked in a therapy session. Perhaps the therapist and I would have spent $100 discussing whether or not my husband was an alcoholic (he is not, btw!) or how I can separate from him for a few months while I get this sobriety thing down.

Not in an AA meeting.  And nothing was said to me, except maybe by my sponsor after the meeting—there was no real progress until I was able to share, “My husband was my drinking buddy, but his drinking has nothing to do with me. All I can do is focus on my own behavior, turn my dishonest will over to God and not drink one day at a time. I can’t control him nor should I try to.”

4. 12 Steps

It was very easy for me to like the 12 Steps because they were all very familiar to me. After Bill W, Dr Bob and the pioneers of AA wrote their book and developed the 12 Steps, a Catholic priest named Father Dowling had a meeting with Bill W to find out if he had used the principles of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola to come up with them. He had not. But the similarities were startling and there began a life-long friendship between the two men.

Turning my will over to God, doing an examination of conscience, confessing my sins, making amends, all these things are part of my beloved faith already so it was easy to like the 12 Steps.

5. Every one in positions of authority in the Church seemed to recommend AA to Catholic alcoholics.  

Believe me, I searched for a reason to believe that AA’s “higher power” and her “spirituality” contradicted the Church. But priest after priest recommend the program. In the confessional I would say, “But there are so many anti-Catholics in the meetings (which wasn’t true but that’s what I wanted to see).” And my confessor would without hesitation say, “There is nothing contrary to the Church in Alcoholics Anonymous.”

6. There are so many X-Catholics in  AA

Why would this be one of my reasons for liking the program?  I’ll tell you.  It’s wonderful, actually. Many times I’ve watched as x-Catholics come back to the Faith after working the Steps.  Apparently, after developing a way of life based on the Steps, these x-Catholics discover the Church had it right all along!  Many re-conversions are the direct result of x-Catholics getting sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.

7. My Sponsor

My sponsor, AF stuck by me when I picked up enough white chips to wallpaper my kitchen with. She never judged me, gave up on me nor told me what to do. She simply made herself available for whenever I was ready. It took a while, but once I was truly ready to live this way of life again she was there to show me the way through the Steps. The neat thing about sponsorship in AA is, when done right, sponsors are completely detached from the results of their work with another alcoholic. Helping another alcoholic is the work that helps the sponsor stay sober. They do it for themselves and that’s how it works. So, if a sponsee drinks or relapses, the sponsor doesn’t judge or take it personally. True sponsorship in AA is done with a spirit of healthy detachment and a desire to be useful, to help another person struggling. Sponsors do the work of sponsorship, but they leave the results to God.

7 Quick Takes Friday: 7 Things I Don’t Miss Now That I’m Sober

7quicktakesHere we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

I do NOT miss these seven things, now that I am sober:

I do not miss: 1. Missing Mass because we didn’t get our act together to go in the morning. And I would be drinking by the afternoon so I couldn’t go to evening Mass.  Nine times out of ten we would go in the morning. But if we didn’t for some reason, then I chose alcohol over God.

“How high a price we pay for the burden of habit! I am fitted for life here where I do not want to be, I want to live there but am unfit for it, and on both counts I am miserable.”  Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

I do not miss: 2. Begging God to please help me stop, take over my will, give me a miracle, make me stop drinking for good please. I remember yelling at God telling him free will was a stupid idea!

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 

jesus-mary-magdaleneI do not miss: 3.  Not remembering a great evening because I had had too much to drink. I especially ruined date nights with Husband. The night would start out wonderfully, with sushi and Chardonnay.  Then, inevitably I’d want to have more wine.  Perhaps we’d skip the movie and instead “hang out and drink.”  That’s when the best conversations happen, right?  We were bonding, sharing out feelings. Right. By the end of the night, I’d most likely said things and behaved in ways I wasn’t proud of.

Ah! Those who rise early in the morning in pursuit of strong drink, lingering late inflamed by wine, banqueting on wine with harp and lyre, timbrel and flute, but the deed of the LORD they do not regard, the work of his hands they do not see! Isaiah 5:11-12

I do not miss: 4. Hangovers. Working from home gave me the opportunity to be hungover and still get my work done–I could be miserable with a headache and lay in bed with my laptop and my Advil. Forcing myself to get up early to get the kids off to school, fed and with their lunches was such a chore. And then as soon as they were out the door, I’d head back to bed for more uselessness.

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion. Catechism of the Catholic Church

I do not miss: 5. my children’s worried faces. I’d pick the little darlings up from school and they’d be excitedly sharing their day with me. Mom, they gave us hot chocolate today during safety patrol. Mom, I’m the star student next week so we need to make my poster. Mom, can you help me tonight with my Literature project?  And then, inevitably on the way home, I’d stop at the convenience store and pick up a 6 pack of Michelob Light.  Back in the car, my children’s faces were down, their sweet voices quieted.  The cloud of alcoholism had surely infected our family, in unspoken words.

“Pride is the king of vices…it is the first of the pallbearers of the soul…other vices destroy only their opposite virtues, as wantonness destroys chastity; greed destroys temperance; anger destroys gentleness; but pride destroys all virtues.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

I do not miss: 6. Husband’s irritation and worry. At times during my drinking days, Husband would say to me, “Honey, I don’t mind drinking every now and then, going out and having fun with friends, or staying home and drinking. But I can’t do this every night.  Maybe just on the weekends?”

“The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church – read on – and give his life for her (Eph. V, 25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is – in her own mere nature – lease lovable. For the Church has not beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs.” CS Lewis, The Four Loves

I do not miss: 7. being separated from God. I think many of us have that “one thing” that blocks us off from the light of God. The more we focus on the thing, rather than on God, the more we separate ourselves from grace.  Once I put down the thing I loved and walked away, God was able to enter my life and fill the vacuum left inside of me.  And how glorious to be filled in this way!

“Virtue is its own reward, and brings with it the truest and highest pleasure; but if we cultivate it only for pleasure’s sake, we are selfish, not religious, and will never gain the pleasure, because we can never have the virtue.” Cardinal Henry Newman

7 Quick Takes: My 7 Favorite Saints

7quicktakesHere we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

These are my 7 most favorite saints–who are yours?  

Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Catherine of Siena

#1 Catherine of Siena, Feast Day April 29
St Catherine of Siena was born at Siena on March 25, 1347 and died at Rome on April 29, 1380.; She was the youngest but one of a very large family. The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. She was a writer, writing over 400 letters to advocate for the Church—She was involved in politics insomuch as she wrote strongly worded letters to those in charge of the secular and the Church of the time.

“Such a soul has been stripped of her old self and has been clothed in a new self, in Christ gentle Jesus.  Then, she is open to receive and hold that grace by which she experiences God in this life.” Saint Catherine of Siena

Saint Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene

#2 Saint Mary Magdalene, Feast Day July 22
St Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of the contemplative life, converts, glove makers, hairstylists, penitent sinners, people ridiculed for their piety, perfumeries and perfumers, pharmacists, and women.  She was, according to Luke 8:2 healed of seven demons by Jesus. She was also among the women who accompanied and supported Jesus and the twelve apostles and was present at the Crucifixion and burial (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, John 19:25). From the sixth century until 1969, she has been portrayed as a prostitute; but nowhere in the New Testament is she described in any but the most positive terms. Her reputation as a prostitute originated from a misstatement in a sixth-century sermon by Pope Gregory the Great. In 1969 ,Paul VI rejected this label by separating Luke’s sinful woman, Mary of Bethany from Mary Magdalene.

According to Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9, Jesus cleansed her of “seven demons”. Some contemporary scholars contend this concept means healing from illness.

The Easter Egg tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, “Christ is risen!” The Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.

#3 Saint Philip Neri, Feast Day May 26
This is one of my newly discovered favorites!  I want to write a book about him!  St Philip Neri is a wonderful saint who showed the humorous side of holiness. I  always LOL reading about this saint. Born in 1515 in Florence, he showed the impulsiveness and spontaneity of his character from the time he was a boy.  Ordained in 1551. he loved to hear confessions. Young men especially found in him the wisdom and direction they needed to grow spiritually. But Philip began to realize that these young men needed something more than absolution; they needed guidance during their daily lives.

Saint Philip Neri

Saint Philip Neri

Philip understood that it wasn’t enough to tell young people not to do something — you had to give them something to do in its place. Philip was known to be spontaneous and unpredictable, charming and humorous.

He seemed to sense the different ways to bring people to God. Humility was the most important virtue he tried to teach others and to learn himself. Some of his lessons in humility seem cruel, but they were tinged with humor like practical jokes and were related with gratitude by the people they helped. His lessons always seem to be tailored directly to what the person needed.

The greater his reputation for holiness the sillier he wanted to seem. When some people came from Poland to see the great saint, they found him listening to another priest read to him from joke books.

We often worry more about what others think that about what God thinks. Our fear of people laughing us often stops us from trying new things or serving God. Prayer through Saint Philip Neri,:

We take ourselves far too seriously most of the time. St Philip Neri please help us to add humor to our perspective — remembering always that humor is a gift from God. Amen

Saint Bernadette--I love this picture. She's so beautiful.

Saint Bernadette–I love this picture. She’s so beautiful.

#4 Saint Bernadette, Feast Day April 16
On December 8 1933, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius XI declared Bernadette Soubirous a saint. The choice on this date to canonise Bernadette was not coincidental since this feast represents the name that Our Lady gave herself at Lourdes when she said: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”; Our Lady appeared to Bernadette 18 times at the grotto and gave her a number of messages. She told her that she wished people to come there in procession and to do penance both for themselves and for others. She did not become a saint because she saw Our Lady and talked with her. Bernadette became a saint through her willing acceptance of sickness and suffering.

St Bernadette is th patron Saint of Children of Alcoholics. Her father had alcoholic tendencies of which she and her mother suffered much from the effects of his drinking.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila

#5 Saint Teresa of Avila, Feast Day October 15th
In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared St Teresa of Avila a Doctor of the Church. During his general audience held  in 2001 in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict spoke admiringly of her. The Holy Father said, “Teresa of Avila had no academic education, however she always gave great weight to the teaching of theologians, men of letters and spiritual masters. St. Teresa’s most famous mystical work is the ‘Interior Castle’, in which she codifies the possible development of Christian life towards perfection.”

Referring then to the spirituality of Teresa, the Holy Father made particular mention of her interest in “the evangelical virtues as the foundation of all Christian and human life”. He also noted how she laid great emphasis on “profound harmony with the great biblical figures” and on “listening to the Word of God. Pope Benedicts also said she always highlighted the importance of prayer when he said, “She teaches readers of her works to pray, and she herself prays with them.” He said, “St. Teresa’s love for the Church was unconditional.”  So is mine J.

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Saint Therese of Lisieux

 #6 Saint Therese de Lisieux, Feast Day October 1
Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. She had a spirit that wanted everything. The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”. She described her life as a “little way of spiritual childhood.” She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God’s love. “What matters in life,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love. Therese’s spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

Pope Benedict XVI has recently urged everyone to rediscover St. Therese and her autobiography “Story of a Soul”. In his weekly general audience on April 6, 2011, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to St. Therese of Lisieux, and speaks of her autobiography as “a wonderful authentic treasure” and invited everyone to read it. For more on his thoughts about St. Therese visit this article at Catholic News Agency.

“Life is passing, Eternity draws nigh: soon shall we live the very life of God. After having drunk deep at the fount of bitterness, our thirst will be quenched at the very source of all sweetness.” Saint Therese of Lisieux

Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day, May 26, 1956 (feast day of St Philip Neri :) )

Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day, May 26, 1956 (feast day of St Philip Neri 🙂 )

My Mom, Feast Day April 24 (her birthday)
I know. I know.  My Mom has not yet been canonized by the Catholic Church, yet, but one day she will be. Having grown up in Brooklyn, one of five children, she attended Fontbonnne Hall Academy and St Johns University before my father swept her off to Oklahoma. Mother of 11 children, wife to Bill for 57 years and counting…this woman is a role model for all women living today.  In her life, she’s gracefully lived as a working mother, stay-at-home mother, a mother of young children, a mother of grown children, and a mother like saint Monica praying for her children who have strayed. Daily Mass-goer. A loving grandmother. A caretaker to her spouse as he ages.  A prayer for many, many people who have  no idea she is praying for them.  Never–and I am serious—have I heard her complain, unless of course you count, “Hurry or you’re going to miss the light!” a complaint.  This is another book I shall write one day.  I love you, Mom!

That’s it!

Who are you 7 favorite saints?

7 Quick Takes: 7 Pilgrimage Sites in the Southeast

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Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs. Since my sisters, my mother and I made an accidental pilgrimage (read about our trip here) last weekend, I thought I’d look nearby and see what other pilgrimages I could take within driving distance from Atlanta. My 7 Quick Takes are on my findings.

There has never been a better time to make a pilgrimage! During the Year of Faith, October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013, a plenary indulgence is available to the faithful for making a pilgrimage.

 

shrineShrine of Our Lady of La Leche St. Augustine, FL
This is where my sisters and I were last weekend.  Here is my post about our “Accidental Pilgrimage.”  Founded in 1565, Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, the nursing Madonna, was the first Mission and the site of the first Mass in America. Located at the shrine is the Mission of Los Nombres de Dios, a 208 foot cross, a museum, the Prince of Peace church, outdoor stations of the cross, and a cemetery. The devotion to Mary as Our Lady of La Leche, patroness of Mothers and Mothers-to-be was brought from Spain in 1603. The intercession of Our Lady of La Leche is often sought by those looking to conceive and have a successful delivery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAve Maria Grotto Cullman, AL
Alabama’s first and only Benedictine Abbey is home to the Ave Maria Grotto. It was built by Benedictine Monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl O.S.B. beginning in 1934 and consists of 3 acres of miniature reproductions of historical building, shrines, and places such as Lourdes and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Benedictine Abbey produces a variety of candles that are available for sale. There is a small entry fee for the grotto, please check the website for details.

ourladyoftheangelsalabalaOur Lady of the Angels Monestary Hanceville, AL
In 1995 Mother Angelica traveled to Columbia on business for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network). She visited the Sanctuary of the Divine Infant Jesus to attend mass and she prayed at the small Shrine which housed the miraculous statue of the Child Jesus. As Mother Angelica stood praying at the side of the statue the miraculous image suddenly came alive and turned towards her. “Then the Child Jesus spoke with the voice of a young boy: “Build Me a Temple and I will help those who help you.” Thus began a great adventure that would eventually result in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a Temple dedicated to the Divine Child Jesus, a place of refuge for all”

grand coteauShrine of St. John Berchmans Grand Coteau, LA
In 1866, through the intercession of St. John Berchmans, a young novice of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Mary Wilson was miraculously healed. St. John Berchmans appeared to Mary on her deathbed after her prayer for intercession and told her he came by the order of God. The infirmary where the miracle took place was converted to a shrine and is the only place in the United States where the exact spot of a miracle and apparition has been preserved as a shrine. Visit the website to read excerpts of Mary Wilson’s diary where she recorded the details of the apparition and her miraculous healing.

sacred heart basilicaThe Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atlanta, GA
This is where my husband and I were married!  Not sure if I understand the rules of the USCCB on whether or not this would count—but I think “basilicas” count for receiving this plenary indulgence in the Year of Faith...The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded in 1880. The original church, known as Saints Peter and Paul, was a small wooden building located at the southwest corner of Marietta and Alexander Streets, twelve blocks west of the present location. In 1897, an Atlanta architect, W. T. Downing, was commissioned to design the new church. In keeping with the then popular devotion to the Sacred Heart, the name of the church was changed to “The Sacred Heart of Jesus.” The architectural style is basically French Romanesque, with some variations and additions.On May 13, 1976, the Church of the Sacred Heart was entered in the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of its “artistically significant architecture.”  On February 22, 2010, Sacred Heart was elevated to the dignity of minor basilica by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and is now known as The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Theresa of Calcutta came to Sacred Heart for a Mass on June 12, 1995.  She was present in Atlanta for the blessing of the Sisters of Charity AIDS hospice, the Gift of Grace House, which is within the boundaries of Sacred Heart parish

shrine immac concThe Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, Georgia
Located also in my hometown, this is where the local archdiocesan Mass for the Unborn is held each year on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Atlanta’s most historic church was founded in 1837 and was first called “Terminus” because it was the end of the railroad line. A large number of the railroad workers were Irish Catholics. and a wooden church was built in 1848, the Church of The Immaculate Conception, with Father Thomas O’Reilly as it’s pastor. Father O’Reilly was a Confederate Chaplain and he persuaded General William Tecumseh Sherman to spare his church and that of his neighbors. Legend has it that Father O’Reilly told Sherman, “If you burn the Catholic Church, all Catholic’s in the ranks of the Union Army will mutiny”. The present Shrine was rebuilt after a fire in 1982 and is open for tours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMonastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit (MOHS) is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious community belonging to the world-wide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) – more commonly known as Trappists. This monastery is the first native-born Trappist foundation in the United States of America and the first daughter-house of Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, USA. Founded in 1944, we are currently a community of 36 monks spanning several generations, who live, work and pray at the Abbey.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website a plenary indulgence will be granted under the normal circumstances when:

“Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.”

The other ways to earn a plenary indulgence during the year of faith include: “Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location. Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form. On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.”

7 Quick Takes: 7 “Kick Ass” Sobriety Blogs

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Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

This Friday I’m offering 7 great sobriety blogs for you or someone you know suffering from alcoholism or loving someone suffering from alcoholism.  May God bless you!

1. Ellie at Crying Out Now, One Crafty Mother and The Bubble Hour — Ellie has done more, IMHO helping women trying to recover from alcoholism than any other woman of my generation on the planet.  How do you like that for a recommendation?  Her experience, strength and hope really are “all that.”

2. Heather King at Shirt of Flame is a contemplative and sober Catholic–her writings show up in one of my favorite morning prayer books (Magnificat).

3. Three sober women bloggers:  Julie at Sober Julie — recovering alcoholic mother in Canada and an ardent follower of Christ.  And Guinevere Gets Sober is a top ranked blog for women in sobriety.  And another, The Act of Returning to Normal.  And another: Sober In October.

4. Andrea at Your Kick Ass Life — “Kick Ass” hence the headline for this post—Andrea has been helping women reach their potential for years and eventually came to terms with her own dependence on alcohol.7quicktakes

5. Several bloggers write here, but this is the most in-depth, up-to-date, real journalism type online magazine for addiction—The Fix. Alcohol and Recovery Straight Up.

6. Ann Leary, author of The Good House–a novel about a mother in New England who struggles with alcoholism and family.  Ann’s been sober for  years and years and is married to a Hollywood type.

7. And this one is NOT a “sobriety” blogger (as far as I know) but it’s for anybody that has ever suffered from depression.  You must see this post by Allie at Hyperbole and a Half.

PLEASE COMMENT BELOW TO ADD YOUR OWN FAVORITE RECOVERY BLOGS 🙂  the more the merrier.

7 Quick Takes- Non-Alcoholic Drinks for the Season

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

A sober Christmas is possible. Check out these fabulous non-alcoholic drink recipes sure to put smiles on the glummest lots.  My two Christmastime favorites below are Bloody Shame and Fruit and Sherbert Punch.

When I was in grade school, my Belfast-born Irish Catholic grandmother lived with us after my grandfather passed.  Grandmother kept her very proper and very thick Irish accent until the day she died. Sometimes we’d push her a little too far.  My siblings and I would scramble when we heard Grandmother say, “I’m going to bang your bloody heads together!”  This Bloody Shame recipe reminds me to behave, or else.

non-alcoholic-punch_s600x600My second favorite is the Fruit and Sherbert Punch recipe. Every New Years Day my parents would make a big batch of sherbert punch to celebrate–or maybe back then it had something to do with the hair of the dog?  Even though this recipe doesn’t have the same kick my parents’ punch had, it still tastes very similar and brings me back to those crazy growing up days.

Enjoy!

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Bloody Shame recipe

3 oz V8® vegetable juice
2-3 drops Tabasco® sauce
1 pinch salt
1 pinch peppers
1 celery stick

Pour V8 into an old-fashioned glass, add tabasco sauce and stir with a celery stalk. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve. 0% (0 proof) Serve in: Old-Fashioned Glass

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Bloody Virgin Bull recipe

2 oz tomato juice
2 oz beef bouillon
1/4 oz lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco® sauce
celery salt
pepper

Pour tomato juice, bouillon and lemon juice over ice cubes in a Collins glass. Add sauces, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve. Serve in: Collins Glass

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Virgin Mary recipe

4 oz tomato juice
2 – 3 dashes lemon juice
1 pinch celery salt
4 – 6 drops Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch coarse peppers
2 – 3 drops Tabasco® sauce
1 celery stalk

Pour tomato juice over ice cubes in a large highball glass. Season to taste, stir, and garnish with celery. Serve in: Highball Glass

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Virgin Raspberry Daiquiri recipe

3 oz raspberry puree
2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 oz raspberry syrup

Blend briefly with half a glassful of crushed ice in a wine goblet. Garnish with raspberries, and serve. 0% (0 proof) Serve in: Wine Goblet

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Virgin Bellini recipe

2 oz peach juice
1 tsp grenadine syrup
2 oz soda water

Pour into a wine glass, and serve. 0% (0 proof) Serve in: White Wine Glass

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Evil Princess recipe

1 oz grenadine syrup
2 oz grape juice
1 oz apple juice
1 tbsp vanilla syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pour over ice, stir and garnish with a lime slice. 0% (0 proof) Serve in: Collins Glass

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Fruit And Sherbet Punch recipe

2 liters soda
1 gal fruit juice
2 pints sherbet

Mix the carbonated soft drink (like 7-Up) with different flavored fruit juices, and float the sherbet on top before serving.; 0% (0 proof)

Read more: Tropical and fruity non-alcoholic drink recipes: 20+ appetizing drink recipes. http://www.drinksmixer.com/cat/186/#ixzz2Fj2kF0qQ