Living Sober with A Cloud of Witnesses

cloud of witnesses

Cloud of Witnesses

The Mass readings today are simply wonderful. All of them.  I was going to LD (Lectio Divina) on just one of them but after going through them I wanted to meditate on them all!

First Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4 (partial)

Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith…

We truly are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses–the angels and saints (and all the faithful departed–especially my relatives who have passed) are with me, as if they are sitting right here at my kitchen table.  The funny thing is if they were sitting here at my table, I’d probably be less inclined to listen to them. I’d be busy like Martha tidying up, stressing about the fact I haven’t showered yet.

I think especially about Saint Teresa the Little Flower today because I need to remember the direction God is pointing me (with Calix and with bringing the Substance Abuse Ministry to Atlanta) is so much bigger than little me.  I’m just a little worker bee doing what God puts in front of me. If I start to plan and determine how and if it will all turn out, then I will mess it all up.  I am little.  And so God will reveal to me only what I need to do today.  That’s pretty much all I can handle.

Dear God, let me rid myself of every burden that clings to me…  every burden–all of my worries about paying bills, getting health insurance, no one showing up for my first Calix meeting tonight, my son who is sick with the flu, my aching back.  In this passage I am asking God to “let me” rid myself of these burdens that cling to me.  Not necessarily the burdens themselves will be gone, but they won’t “cling” to me anymore.  I ask God to let me not be as attached to them as I am.

And Dear God, let me rid myself of every sin that clings to me… every sin, every bad habit and vice–particularly my alcoholic thinking and my laziness. Thank you for another day of sobriety yesterday. And please “let me” have sobriety today.

One day at a time, thank you very much!

Help me persevere in my obligations and responsibilities today but keep my eyes fixed on You.  Allow me to leave the results to You.  If nobody shows up at the Calix meeting, that is okay.  There’s always next month.  And I’ll advertise better next time.

So many great words: burden, persevere, cloud of witnesses, clinging sins, the perfecter of faith

I’ll write and meditate about the Gospel reading (especially Talitha Koum! and the woman who touched him in the crowd!) later, if I get all of my obligations and responsibilities completed first.


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.


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.


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.”