Local Mass of Healing for Those Impacted by Addiction

Calix Atlanta

Our Lady of Assumption parish in the Chamblee/Brookhaven area offers a monthly Mass for those impacted by addiction, whether personally or that of a loved one. All are welcome to come and share in this Eucharistic celebration of healing and grace.

Saturday March 8t at 10am

For more information contact Mark at mdannenfelser@olachurch.org.

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Pope Paul VI Address to Calix Members in 1974

Catholic Alcoholic

We are happyto greet members of the Calix Society on the twenty-fifth anniversary of their foundation. As we welcome you on your pilgrimage to the See of Peter, we express our appreciation of your earnest commitment to working for the elimination of alcoholic abuse, including alcoholism itself.

In our apostolic ministry we are deeply aware of the gravity of this problem and how it is closely linked to the overall problem of drug abuse. We see the disastrous effects that these disorders have on so many people throughout the world: the effects on the individual, on families, on communities.

We know moreover the effects on society as a whole.

We see how widespread alcoholic abuse is and how it causes great human suffering, anguish and deterioration – even death. It produces marked disorientation of the whole person, especially when accompanied by grave lack of personal responsibility and by serious…

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Calix Atlanta and Resources for Parishes

Holding Hands with Elderly PatientEach month I host a Calix meeting at my Church and nobody comes. Tonight was no exception. And each month I’m actually glad nobody comes because I’m busy and can get home quicker to my family ha ha. Boy oh boy I still will keep at it though because there is something about Calix that draws me, seems important.

I’m thinking of playing off of a guy in West Palm Beach that inspired me. His name is Erik Veganius. He seems to have a history of helping addicted persons that goes back decades! He started and maintained a “substance abuse ministry” in Palm Beach diocese that is so commendable. It seems like of late though enthusiasm has waned for his proposals so there were cutbacks.

This is what I would like to implement here in Atlanta, starting I suppose with my own parish—which means I’d have to have the courage to approach the pastor about my ideas ha ha! And we all know my self-confidence in my own ideas is quite lacking.

Anyways, this is what I’d like to do:

  1. Create a parish based addiction ministry where recovering parishoners can minister to those still struggling
  2. Provide printed materials that priests can pass along to those they know are suffering from addictions–i’d pull from AA, Calix and Father Vogt’s materials to create an addiction packet
  3. Ensure parish literature centers have information for parishoners struggling with addiction or their loved ones –currently my parish has only one brochure “Is AA for Me?” that sits at the bottom of the shelf. I’d like to provide more resources. Since this is such a shame based thing–we need to provide as many written materials as possible. We will research these things alone long before we reach out for help within the community.
  4. Establish a monthly parish based group (Calix) that meets to pray for addictions and encourage the sacraments.
  5. Have announcements in EVERY weekly Church bulletin/newsletter to let parishoners know there is help.

Soooo… these are things I have in my head. Of course I am TOTALLY unworthy but since I’m called to this I have to do it.

XOXO

April 2013 Issue of Calix Society’s “Chalice”

Antioch-Chalice-Byzantine-MetalworkMost of you are aware I am in the process of starting a Calix Society chapter here in Atlanta. I have this thing about me though that is afraid ha ha! I’m afraid to ask a Pastor or Priest to be our “spiritual advisor” which is necessary to establish a Chapter. And I’m afraid the Archbishop will say no.

Where do these fears come from?

First, I know how supportive the Catholic “leaders” are of AA. Believe me, I tried to get out of going to AA by trying to persuade my confessor it wasn’t Catholic enough.  But from every direction, I got pointed to AA from priests and others in my Faith.  Nobody pointed me to Celebrate Recovery. None pointed me to Rational Recovery. None pointed me to moderation management or any other “recovery” program.

And none of my Catholic trusted advisors (?) pointed me to blogging in isolation and prayer. Every thinking Catholic leader recommends the community and 12 Step aspects of AA–I guess that’s the best way for the wayward sinner, me, the Catholic alcoholic, to get on the road back to the Church.  You gotta start somewhere, right?  And AA has a way about her that works.

Anyways, I am afraid if I bring up Calix to a priest or Pastor here in Atlanta, they will think I’m trying to create a Catholic AA and they will discount my efforts.

Of course I could explain it to them. But, even though I have been in sales all my life I still have this fear of rejection. So, how dumb would that be if I pitched Calix to Catholic priests in Atlanta and they rejected my ideas–so I got depressed and then went out and drank! ha ha.

Anyways, Calix is awesome. It’s an extension of the 11th Step in AA–a great way for local Catholics in recovery to gather and grow spiritually with our Higher Power as we understand him. I have a big old fun web site for Calix Atlanta, and I have scheduled a May meeting–but will anybody come?  If not, oh well.  I’ll be there!

So, anyways, the latest Calix issue is out!  yay!   Here is a LINK to the current issue.  I encourage all Catholic alcoholics to join (only $25 per year–to support their basic administrative costs) and you will be privy to a lot of other Catholics in recovery across the country.

This issue introduces us to a fabulous recovery evangelization tool by a long-time Calix member, Ken Johnson. View the organizations new website (which I will write about soon!!!) here:  Not Saints Yet  As a marketer, I can’t help but add here that I LOVE THEIR LOGO.  Great stuff. Many people underestimate the power of a logo–so I’m so happy that this worthy endeavor has a modern wonderful logo.  🙂 I’m such a geek.

Philadelphia Calix Society Has It Goin’ On

cardinal rigaliWe’re only in the beginning stages of launching a Calix Society chapter here in Atlanta, but I’ve been so impressed with the Philadelphia “Philly”  Calix because of how active they are. Here is a link to their web site to learn more.

Below is an excerpt taken from the Philly Calix website. I was excited to read this as this is what I would love for to one day happen in Atlanta–a conference on addiction supported by our Archdiocese. But I can’t get ahead of myself, as here in Atlanta Calix is just a zygote.

The conference referenced below was actually held in the Fall of 2010, when Cardinal Rigali was still the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Today, Cardinal Rigali is one of the Cardinals entering conclave on Tuesday to elect our next Pope!

Here is an article from last month where Cardinal Rigali talks about the qualities he would like to see in the next Pope.  I tend to agree wholeheartedly with him.

Here is a link to the book Cardinal Rigali wrote in 2010 about breaking free from addiction.

From the Philly Calix web site:

Cardinal Rigali’s Conference on Addictions

On Friday November 5th (2010) Cardinal Rigali, (the then) Archbishop of Philadelphia, held a one-day conference on addictions. The conference was titled the same as his book published this year on addictions, “Let the Oppressed Go Free: Breaking the Bonds of Addiction”. Approximately 375 people attended the conference including seven from the Philly Calix units. We had a table set up with a nice display of Calix information. Almost all of those that stopped by the table had never heard of Calix and were excited to learn about our society.

The conference was covered by the archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Standard & Times. The November 11th edition had a front page article on the conference. In the online version they included a link for addiction recovery resources and that contained a link to an article written by our own Amy N. about Calix. We also found a link to Cardinal Rigali’s homily at the closing Mass published in the print version of the CS&T.

The Philadelphia Calix Society chapter is a model for the rest of the country, with four different groups that meet more than once per month to practice the 11th Step with other Catholics in recovery.

Heading out now to host the first Calix Atlanta meeting. I’ll bring a few of these Sacred Heart Badges with me to hand out to anybody that would like one.

Calix Atlanta

sacred-heart-of-jesus-badge-tnThis excerpt was taken from Barefoot World’s History of AA.  

Sister Ignatia increasingly began to believe that alcoholics should not be sneaked into the hospital but brought through the front door just like other sick people.

This belief led to the first medical admission in 1935. Soon, she provided a ward for men to sober up and St. Thomas Hospital became the first religious institution to recognize the rights of alcoholics to receive hospital treatment. Today, many of AA’s practices — including the use of tokens to mark milestones in sobriety — find their origins with Sister Ignatia.

Sister lgnatia was the first person to use medallions in Alcoholics Anonymous. She gave the drunks who were leaving St. Thomas after a five day dry out a Sacred Heart Medallion and instructed them that the acceptance of the medallion signified a commitment to God, to A.A. and to recovery and…

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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.

Pope Paul VI Address to Calix Members in 1974

We are happy to greet members of the Calix Society on the twenty-fifth anniversary of their foundation. As we welcome you on your pilgrimage to the See of Peter, we express our appreciation of your earnest commitment to working for the elimination of alcoholic abuse, including alcoholism itself.

In our apostolic ministry we are deeply aware of the gravity of this problem and how it is closely linked to the overall problem of drug abuse. We see the disastrous effects that these disorders have on so many people throughout the world: the effects on the individual, on families, on communities.

We know moreover the effects on society as a whole.

We see how widespread alcoholic abuse is and how it causes great human suffering, anguish and deterioration – even death. It produces marked disorientation of the whole person, especially when accompanied by grave lack of personal responsibility and by serious sin. To be properly confronted, alcoholic abuse and, in particular, alcoholism must be fully understood with all their various implications : physical, psychological, moral and religious. In this way, rehabilitation can be effectively undertaken. We know that this rehabilitation of those in need calls for fraternal interest and professional help on the part of others, together with strict personal discipline and repeated and sustained effort.

We are greatly pleased, therefore, to express our sincere and lively commendation of the valued efforts that are being made by many through the application of the appropriate natural means. We are even more pleased when efforts, like your own, take into account supernatural reality and admit the impact that must come from Christian principles and from the exercise of the Catholic faith. In recognizing a dimension-beyond natural forces-needed for the cure of alcoholism and for the Christian reconciliation of persons afflicted thereby, you are in effect finding yet another application of the broad and time-proven principle enunciated by Saint Thomas- a principle expressing an immutable relationship between nature and grace: gratia perficit naturam (Cfr. S. TH. I, q. 1. a. 8 ad 2).

IVe rejoice to see how many people esteem recourse to a higher power in overcoming the problems related to alcoholic abuse. And worthy of special mention is the fact that you identify this higher power as the supernatural grace of Jesus Christ, the healing power of his word and of his sacraments. In this latter regard we are happy to encourage you to draw special attention to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the Eucharist. We are confident moreover that your efforts, motivated as they are by authentic Christian concern for your fellowmen in need, will be effective in helping them to undergo the genuine metanoia of true renewal and reconciliation.

We express our double insistence on the need of taking into account both nature and grace for the benefit of the unified whole which is the new man in Jesus Christ.

You have chosen to look upon Matt Talbot as an admirable exemplar of discipline and supernatural virtue. It is our hope that his success will encourage countless men and women throughout the world to realize the need for conversion, the possibility of real rehabilitation, the serenity of Christian reconciliation, and the peace and joy of helping others to overcome abuses, disorders and sin.

May your efforts and those of all men endeavouring to assist in such an important work be blessed by God, “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Cfr. Act. 17, 28), and without whose help we are incapable of supernatural conversion.

And with the expression of our hope goes our Apostolic Blessing.

Why CALIX?

The following is information taken from the CALIX SOCIETY web site.  To me, Calix seems like the perfect bridge between AA and the Catholic faith for those of us practicing Catholic alcoholics.

The Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is generally accepted as the best therapy for those 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, serene life.

WHY CALIX?

Consider the men and women, who have spent a long time, often many years, unwittingly developing a physical dependence on alcohol. Finally they reach the end of the line – physically, mentally and spiritually. Assume that they manage to put together a short period of sobriety and tentatively are testing the Twelve Step program. Their physical condition improves rapidly and, after a longer period, so does the emotional side of their lives.

For Catholics, however, something more is needed that can not be found in their Twelve Step meetings. They realize that the Twelve Step program advocates recourse to a “higher power” and God, but they also know that Twelve Step programs are necessarily non-denominational. Having been raised in a church rich in tradition, dogma and ritual, these recovering alcoholics begin to yearn once again for the faith they probably have neglected or abandoned. At this point the Calix Society can say: “Come back home. You must maintain your sobriety through your affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous, but let us help you to regain the spiritual life without which you may not succeed in the never-ending fight against your addiction.” Perhaps the disease never will be conquered completely, but the sincere men and women of Calix have the answer of the Calix Society: “Substitute the cup that sanctifies for the cup that stupifies.”