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.

Wife, Mother, Catholic, Alcoholic

fall in north georgiaI submitted this to another Catholic forum and wanted to post it here too. Click here to read this article on Catholic Mom.

—-

I’m a Catholic mother who loves my Faith, my husband and my children more than anything else in the world. I pray the Rosary every day. I visit Christ in Adoration. My children attend a wonderful Catholic school. I volunteer, play tennis, help with school parties, and drive carpool.

Oh, and by the way, I’m an alcoholic.

I never would have admitted that when I was still drinking. But now that I have been sober for a while and am in recovery I have found that admitting I’m an alcoholic helps me hit back at the shame that can cripple me if I let it.

And if I’m lucky, being somewhat public about my problem might help another woman face hers.

Shame goes hand-in-hand with being an alcoholic mother. Shame is awful, sneaky. And it’s not of God.

The stigma of being an alcoholic can keep some moms from getting help earlier, says Ann-Marie Loose, LSW, a clinical supervisor at Caron Treatment Centers based in Wernersville, PA.  “You try to have the perfect home, be the perfect mom and wife,” said Loose. “And you look completely under control to the outside world, but alcohol is slowing destroying your life.”

And, Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., L.M.H.C. author of, Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic, said “It is as though the image of the “mother” and that of the “alcoholic” seem contradictory.” However, alcoholism does not discriminate and there are definitely good mothers who are also alcoholic.

My “problem” affected my marriage and my children, and it separated me from God. It wasn’t just about me anymore. As a Catholic mom it was imperative I tackle this truthfully, and in light of my Faith—without saddling myself with shame.

To be honest, I always knew there was something different about my drinking. I seemed to really love it. Everyone else could take it or leave it. Where other people had a couple of drinks to loosen up or wind down, I had a couple of drinks to “get going.” I eventually crossed the line from being a social drinker to being an alcoholic.

How did I know?  For me, I came to accept that I had a problem because of two things: God and my children. I came to recognize my dependence on alcohol was affecting my relationship as a daughter of Christ and as a mother to my children. So I became committed to seeking help.

The desire to mature in my relationship with God and the desire to be the mother I knew I could be were finally enough to get me to admit my problem and seek help. This was a very humbling endeavor, one I am so grateful to God for walking me through.

I think for each of us facing the facts about our drinking is a process, sometimes a long process. Sometimes that process is helped along a little bit by a DUI or an embarrassing episode. But for the most part, it’s something we come to accept through our relationship with God and with our families.

Experts offer these signs that our drinking might be out of control:

  • We start making mistakes, forgetting our child’s sporting event, missing appointments.
  • We start drinking before a social activity.
  • We begin to avoid situations where alcohol will be present because we have difficulty controlling how much we drink—we wanted to protect our reputations.
  • Once we start drinking we have trouble stopping.
  • The time between drinking binges gets less and less.
  • We might experience “blackouts,” which are simply periods of time we are unable to remember what took place when we were drinking.
  • We behave in ways that are uncharacteristic of our sober selves. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

If you think you might have a drinking problem, or you love someone who does, I encourage you to talk it over with your Confessor. I found great strength and courage from admitting my problem first in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A few Lents ago, in the homily at Mass Father Frank challenged us to determine that “one thing” in our lives that was separating us from having a more intimate relationship with God.  For me, I knew right away what that one thing was.  I thought about this a lot. And then, finally, I gave up the alcohol.  And in doing so, my whole family benefited.

Prayer of Saint Catherine of Siena "My Nature Is Fire"

In your nature, God I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature? Boundless love? It is fire. Because you are a Fire of Love. And you have given me a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created me. Oh how ungrateful I can be!

What nature has God given me? His very own nature! Am I not ashamed to cut myself off from such a noble gift through the guilt of deadly sin? Oh, eternal Trinity, my sweet Love! You, Light, give me light. You, Wisdom, give me wisdom. You, Supreme Strength, strengthen me.

Today, eternal God, let my cloud be dissipated so that I may perfectly know and follow your Truth in truth. God, come to my assistance! Lord, make haste to help me!  Saint Catherine of Siena

Grumpy Today

imageSo much to be grateful for but I am grumpy today. Normally I could blame this on hormones but its not it. I’m restless, irritable and discontent. And tired. And my back hurts.

And I’m picking fights with strangers. Maybe it’s because Husband is drinking again and I’m jealous. He’s not an alcoholic so no worries there. But he was my drinking buddy. He quit to support me. Oh well. It’s not his problem, it’s mine. Sooooo…

Gratitude list?

1. I’m grateful for the rain that is taking away the new pollen.

2. I’m grateful for all kinds of people, whether I agree with them or not. I do have that weird eternity kind of love for all people. Does that make sense?

3. I’m grateful Husband refrained from drinking for so long just to support and “suffer with” me

4. Grateful I can go to the women’s meeting tomorrow at 11:30 to see my peeps.

5. I’m grateful it’s almost bed time.

Good night! I feel better already. Nothing like a gratitude list to cure a bout of self-pity. Plus I found this awesome picture of the Samaritan woman listening at the feet of Jesus.  He offers her (and me) his living water.

Dear God

deargod insecureDear God,

Hi. Good morning. Just thinking about things, up before everyone else in the house. I love this time of the day,the early morning with my coffee and my runaway dog Gypsy.

I’m a little conflicted as you know, God, about this blogging thing. I told you in the beginning when you and I decided it was okay and time for me to go “public” with my alcoholism and this blog that it was a risk because of my scruples. After a couple of years of just writing for myself and you, I have since early January been writing for a third person now. I have the reader in mind. I edit what I write. I re-word things that might sound controversial or stupid.

I told you I was worried this would happen, that I would care too much how or even if I’m perceived by others. You know this is one of my faults. Sometimes I call it vanity. But still you encouraged me to do this.  Why?  I’ve lost my time with you in the mornings. I’ve lost the intimacy you and I shared. My mornings used to be 45 minutes of sitting in my prayer chair, reading, praying, listening to you.

Now the first thing I do in the morning—well, I do make myself say the Rosary before I get out of bed, but it’s rushed and I can’t wait to finish it in order to get up for coffee and to check my blog.  Did anybody read what I wrote yesterday? Comment? Do I have a new follower overnight? Where did my traffic come from? What search words do strangers use to find my blog? How interesting it all is to me!  And although this information shows me that you and I are on the right track with this, I don’t like how my focus has shifted from you to me.

I just wanted to talk about this blogging thing, this public alcoholism I’m engaged in. What about all the people in my life, my professional life and my Facebook/personal life—my Facebook life is filled with people I’ve met along the way all the way back to elementary school!  What will they think if they find out I’m an alcoholic?  My blog posts are showing up in SEO, in Google.

What about those girls from high school and college, you know the perfect ones?  What will they think of me?  What about my sister, the one who is more private than I am.

You know, that’s the thing that’s bothering me the most right now.  The sister who may not be comfortable with me being publicly alcoholic.  I try to summon up the courage to not worry about this but it does make me question myself and your plan for me.  Maybe I should just be a quiet, non-wave-maker, mother and wife. I have that scruples thing, not all the time and not with everybody but with some people. But the love is there. Definitely the love is there

Should I be sharing these personal things about my life?  Shouldn’t I be more careful about what I put “out there” on the internet?  Why am I even doing this blog? It’s not like I’m blogging about arts and crafts, cooking, motherhood, something respectable. I’m blogging about alcoholism and how it has affected me and my family.  Maybe I should be more private about things, especially these things?

Even though I’m INFP on the Myers Briggs personality thing, I do have a way about me that sort of barrels through life. I don’t take  precautions, and I usually just go for it, do things. I’ve always been this way. I’m always like, “Okay, sure. Let’s do it.”  I was a gymnast and a diver in my youth, and I’ve always had a lot of courage–or maybe some would call me a “risk-taker,” which is actually one of the qualities the experts say is evident in every alcoholic.  A risk-taker. My coach would show me a difficult thing in the gymnastics book and I would say sure, I’ll try it.  So I guess my point here is how does me doing this blog affect the people I love? Am I being selfish here, risking more than just my own reputation? By having this blog am I hurting the reputation of those I love, too? Will my children be embarrassed one day when they’re old enough to know the difference?

Anyways, I”m not making ANY sense. I sound like such a victim here which is not how I feel at all.  Just wanted you to know that part of my fear and reservation about going public with my alcoholism and this blog. All of this could be in my head.  All of this, I suppose unfortunately IS in my head. ugh.

Back to you.

Dear God, I’m just asking you this morning two things. Well, of course the normal things like bless and take care of Husband and the children, my parents, Husband’s parents and all of my siblings and their families. Of course that.  But the two things I’m asking for in addition to the regular things are:

1. Bring me back to you in my mornings. I am loving blogging and writing, but I think of Wormwood in the Screwtape Letters, how satan is a master manipulator and uses the things we love to separate us from you. So help me give my mornings back to you, in my prayer chair, with my journal and my Lectio Divina, my Magnificat subscription, My Daily Bread book…  I want to be with you in the mornings again.

2. Release me from my attachment to pleasing anyone but you. Help me not worry about what I think people think of me.  I’m not the kind of person anymore that worries about what everybody thinks—but I guess I do still worry too much about what “certain” people think.  So, can you release me from that?

3. oh and three. I know I said it was just two. But three, can you reveal what it is exactly you want me to do with this blog?  It’s all for you, you know?

Love, Regina

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?

Late on the Gospel But Thoughts About Fathers

me and dad 001I’m a few days late on this. Last Sunday’s Gospel reading (Luke 15:11-32) was the infamous story of the Prodigal Son. One of my favorites, of course–no need to explain that one–but aside from the obvious (me being the prodigal son–ok there I explained it) I like the story for others reasons, too.

I’ve got two sons. If one squandered and messed up but then came back home I’d be thrilled and unconditionally welcoming. Like the Father in the story, all I would care about is that he had returned, humbled and reborn- and wanted to turn his life around.  I’d probably run up to Publix, buy his favorite meal, call everybody to let them know he was back, make up his room with new sheets and fresh flowers, and take him shopping for new clothes.

But at the same time I’d be really intuitive to the other son, the one that stayed with me all along.  His feelings of resentment are natural, but not healthy. And I’d figure out a way to instruct and walk him through this.

All the articles and posts and homilies on Sunday focused on one of these two characters, the repentant son or the prideful one.

My brain wants to focus on the father.

My dad is my hero.  Now 80 years old, he’s lived such an interesting life. He is a great story-teller. I wish he would write all of his stories down so that I could  pass them to my children. Story-telling is a terrific way to help children feel part of a “tribe,” a family. Before the advent of the printing press, most stories were passed on verbally.  The stories of our ancestors in the Bible were originally passed on verbally.  But today, I think it’s so important to write things down. That gives them a permanence and an accuracy. Especially if they’re written in first person.

Imagine if Jesus had written the Bible in first person?  How interesting that would have been!

My dad was born in 1932 in upstate New York. It actually might not be called “upstate New York,” because it was the Catskills, not a place like Rochester or Syracuse.  I don’t know much about his life before his father left them but after his father left his mother (he was I think about 8 years old) I love the stories of him helping his mother run things. A single mother and a divorced woman, I can only imagine the hardships my Nana went through emotionally and spiritually.  I wish I could go back in time and hang out with her, help her.

My dad collected the eggs from the chickens, did odd jobs for the community and helped his mother run a boarding house to make ends meet.  Last year, my parents took a trip and spent 3 weeks back in my dad’s hometown. They visited his old house and even spoke with the woman living there now who is renovating it.  Good stuff.

DaddyAnother way my dad made money when he was a boy was to caddie for the golfers at the nearby resort. In doing so, he learned the game of golf. He started playing and became quite good. The golf pro at the resort hired him to run the shop. My dad was very mature from a young age, probably because he had to be the man of the house after his father left.

The one room school house ended up being a tremendously instructive environment and my dad progressed quickly through the lessons, graduating high school at age 16. He took a year off, moved to FL to live with his father who had remarried and he played golf every day. After a year, the golf coach from the University of Florida discovered him and recruited him to play on full scholarship.

My dad really took to college life. He was a leader, not a partyer. He became president of his fraternity and president of the Lyceum Council on Campus which brought in a variety of entertainment and events to the University students.

I think he moved back home after college. And that’s when he met my mother. My mom, a true city-girl born and raised in Brooklyn, and her sister were vacationing at the resort and my Dad courted her. Those stories are priceless!

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 🙂 )

They married and he joined the army, which brought them out to Oklahoma. My mom was in culture shock! And she’d never driven a car so my dad taught her. She totaled his Jaguar. In the army, the boss discovered my father’s golfing talents so my dad’s “job” in the army was to run the golf pro shop and golf course for the officers and play on the golf team.  On the golf team in the army, his teammate was the amazing PGA great Chi Chi Rodriquez.

After the army, my parents moved to Pensacola, FL and my dad ran the golf pro shop at the Naval air base. He became president of the Pensacola Sports Association (now on their “hall of fame” wall) and expanded the course from 18 to 36 holes.

Great stories from this time! Once he threw an officer out of the shop (literally, by his pants threw him out into the bushes) because the officer had belittled a private in front of my dad. My dad always looked out for the little guy—even when he WAS the little guy.  They had nine children (I’m number 9!) in Pensacola, before moving to Atlanta to join an exciting venture to open a golf and country club.  For fifteen years, he ran the club, had two more children and supported all of us with a very nice lifestyle!

Today, he and my mom live simply and in retirement he has gotten deeper into his Catholic faith, something he must have found difficult to do when working to support a big family. He got a PhD (or maybe a Masters degree, I can’t remember), has read all of Shakespeare’s works and every other work of classical fiction. He has made his Faith a study, reading Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and all the great works of the Doctors of the Church.  He enjoys his grandchildren but I think the biggest lesson he’s taught me is the lesson of marriage.

mom and dadHe and my mom have been married 57 years. I’ve never seen them fight. They put each other first. Even when we were little, I always knew that their marriage was first, a priority above the children.  I think this is so important.  It’s something we miss in modern times because we put so much focus on the kids and neglect our marriages.  But this focus on their marriage as primary taught me that marriage is a sacrament, for life, the bedrock of the family and the foundation needed to raise children.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, my Dad is the Father. Always open, always forgiving, always encouraging me to grow and celebrating it when I would. Where was the mother in this Gospel? hmmmm.  Maybe I’ll write a short story from the mother’s perspective of this Gospel.  That’s all for today.  Time to wake the children, make breakfast and lunches and send them off to school.

Audio Resources for Catholic Alcoholics

7deadyI plan to invest in these CDs over time. I’ve purchased too many Nook books lately, so I need to wait a few weeks to make more money. After having read the book The Freedom to Love by Father Emmerich Vogt (which incorporates the 7 deadly sins into our experience of recovery), I am comfortable recommending his CDs because he teaches an authentic Faith and has 30 years of experience working with the 12 Steps.

Once I purchase and listen to these I will review here, but for now I wanted to share:

The Eleventh Step and the Spiritual Life
In this series of lectures and homilies, the eleventh step (Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God) is framed in terms of developing our catholic spiritual life through prayer, meditation and sacrifice. Father Emmerich uses clear and sometimes humorous examples of how to take disasters and change them into truly good, life changing and worthwhile experiences, both with others, and in our interior relationship with God. Set of 5 CDs, $35.00.

The Power of the Holy Spirit and the 12 Steps
A five CD set consisting of conferences and homilies given to a live congregation at CASA MARIA retreat house in Irondale, Alabama. 5 CD’s – $35.00.

The Spirituality of the 12 Steps
In this set of nine conferences Fr. Emmerich grounds each of the Steps in classical Gospel spirituality, and brings in the teachings of the saints. Each conference is about one hour-long. $65.00 for 9 CDs.

 

Book Review: The Freedom to Love by Father Emmerich Vogt,O.P.

freedom to loveBook Review: The Freedom to Love by Emmerich Vogt, O.P.

BN ID: 2940014633703, Publisher: Mill City Press, date: 4/24/2012, Pages: 158

Verdict: A

It’s funny when I experience something, I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I am special, that I am the first to ponder these things and the one to share my findings. And then the more I delve into and explore my ideas I inevitably discover this has all be done before.  No need to re-invent the wheel here.

In my quest to reconcile the 12 Step Program (of which I am an enthusiastic participant) with my Catholic faith, I have often found myself alone, isolated. I’m not comfortable nor would it be appropriate to explore my Christianity in recovery meetings. These meetings and the 12 Step Program are necessarily non-denominational.

And I have checked out “Celebrate Recovery,” which is a terrific Christian-based recovery program started by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California. Celebrate Recovery pulls from the 12 Steps but is based on their 8 Principals rooted in the Beatitudes. I have enjoyed the CR meetings I’ve attended; but I longed for a Catholic Christian version.  We have our own lingo, the saints, the traditions, Mary and established Catholic moral teachings passed down to us over the last 2000 years to study.  So, although I see the value of CR, it didn’t draw me in as much as regular AA meetings did/do.

Also, since I am basically a Catholic “activist” I am unfortunately aware of the ex-Catholic leanings of many members and leaders within Saddleback and in many of her offshoots.  For reference, check this out and this.  So, even though I did like CR, it just didn’t sit right with me, like regular AA meetings did.

So, where do I look for answers and consolation–certainly I look to the 12 Steps but I have to go beyond the 12 Steps into my faith in order to have a complete “design for living” as it promises in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gratefully, I’m not unique, after all.  Many have gone before me and have shared truly amazing resources and faith-based guides for me to follow.  Thank goodness for Google (or Bing, if I’m feeling counter-cultural)

Father Emmerich Vogt, OP published a book last year called The Freedom to Love.  It may very well become part of my repertoire and my design for living.  It’s that good. And it speaks my language (Catholic Christianity) so well that I immediately felt connected to the author in our common understanding of taking the 12 Step Program just a little bit further into living Christian principles.

In our Catholic faith tradition, I don’t think we’d ever (never say never?) create a “Catholic Program of Recovery.”  12 Step Programs work well for the Catholic alcoholic, are basically free and widely available throughout the world–thousands of convenient meetings every single day.  So, no, there’s really no need for a “Catholic AA.”

But there is a need–at least for me and since I’m  not unique most likely others have the same desire as I do—-for us to take the 12 Steps a little bit further and incorporate our Catholic faith into our design for living.

That’s what this book does well!  Vogt takes the reader through the Steps by putting a Catholic understanding to them.  It’s splendid (and I love that word, “splendid!”).

On to the book:

From the Publisher:

Addicted persons are unable to choose to really love themselves and others without being grounded in sound moral values. The founders of AA in the Big Book encouraged the recovering alcoholic to inventory the seven deadly sins in preparation for the 4th Step because recovery meant – not simply giving up drinking – but embracing a moral lifestyle.

As a priest who has worked with the 12-step program for over thirty years, Fr. Emmerich combines traditional Christian spiritual principles with the wisdom of the Steps. An understanding of the moral virtues, and the extremes that set a person up to become an addict, is addressed in this book.

For centuries Western culture has provided a moral sense of the deadliness of sin.  However, modern culture has dropped this wisdom, which the author believes has led to an  increased vulnerability to addiction.

The seven deadly sins are shown to be destructive of the love of God and neighbor. Uncovering these character defects in our lives should guide the Christians actions. A very real and profound moral disorder is found in the un-recovered person. The person who abuses himself and others through addiction and codependency does not love himself and cannot love others. There is nothing so beautiful and salvific as the revelation of God’s love, which alone makes man fully alive. We communicate this love by His grace, which heals the wounds of addiction and sets us free to love.

This book (eBook version is just $9.99 at bn.com) explains how relevant it is to look at how the seven deadly sins manifest themselves in our lives. And then it shows how the virtues (as presented in the Catechism) can be an excellent tool for us to redirect our sins to a higher calling.

Modern Psychology, with all her wonderfulness and contributions to understanding the emotional and psychological workings of our brains and relationships, has perhaps unintentionally caused misunderstanding of what used to be common vocabulary. Words like “sin” and “morals” and “guilt” have become four-letter words. To me, those words have meaning and help me grow towards my quest for an intimate relationship with my Creator.

So, we can’t let these words (sin, morality, virtue, confession, redemption) used throughout the book scare us.  In Catholic culture, those words are just part of our lingo and they make sense.

And finally, a wonderful resource for the Catholic alcoholic looking to blend their recovery with the Faith, the author of this book Father Vogt maintains the web site and ministry The 12 Step Review at 12-step-review.com.

Great book.

Prayer for the Addicted

prayer guyPRAYER FOR THE ADDICTED

God of mercy, we bless you in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who ministered to all who come to Him. Give your strength to (name of the one I am praying for), who is bound by the chains of addiction. Enfold him/her in your love and restore him/her to freedom through your grace.

Lord, look with compassion on all those who have lost their health and have broken relationships because of their attachment to the object of their addiction. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy, and strengthen them in the work of recovery. To those who care for them, grant patient understanding and a love that perseveres.

Lord, in your servant, Venerable Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence of the Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give (name of the one I am praying for) courage to take up his/her cross and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Father, we ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.