5 Reasons Pope Francis is a Great Choice for Alcoholics

ignatius.trinity5 Reasons Pope Francis is a Wonderful Choice by the Holy Spirit for Alcoholics

1.       A Jesuit, Pope Francis embraces Ignatian spirituality

The spirituality of Saint Ignatius in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is undeniable. Bill W., the “co-founder” of AA did not rely on Ignatius’ teachings in drafting the Steps; however, he developed a devoted friendship with Father Ed Dowling, a Jesuit priest who was the first to notice the presence of Ignatian spirituality in the Steps.

A gentle, charming man, Fr. Dowling sought Bill Wilson out and introduced him to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It is said the Bill Wilson took his 5th Step with Father Dowling. The similarities between the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and the 12 Steps hint at why the Steps have survived intact over the years. The principles of the Steps are based in ancient Christian principles.

ignatiusspirituality projectA remarkable Chicago-based Jesuit ministry which offers retreats to those who are homeless and seeking recovery from alcoholism and addiction is the Ignatian Spirituality Project. This ministry helps them find meaning and purpose as they reclaim their lives. The Ignatian Spirituality Project also trains the formerly homeless to assist in giving retreats.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis no doubt is familiar with and practices these Spiritual Exercises, which would foster an empathetic understanding of the plight of the alcoholic and the recovering individual.

2.       Choosing the name “Francis” and the Prayer of Saint Francis for Alcoholics

In Alcoholics Anonymous’ companion book, the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,” Bill Wilson offered the Prayer of Saint Francis to alcoholics as a way of practicing the 11th Step. This prayer is typically noted as the 11th Step Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

What practicing, active alcoholic is not focused on self?  By design alcoholics put the drink before all else. We may call ourselves “functioning alcoholics,” but are we really?  Are we really present in the lives of our loved ones or are we seeking to be understood, loved? Aren’t we in the end in despair and lacking in hope?

By choosing the name Francis, this pope is reaching out to all of us to let us know that the key to peace, the keys to the kingdom are in serving others and thinking less often of ourselves and our needs, which also happens to be the foundational principles of 12 Step programs.

3.       Pope Francis and the “War on Drugs” in Latin America

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then Cardinal Bergoglio was familiar with alcohol and drug addiction and its impact on families, cultures and parishes.

In 2011, in the annual Mass for Education he spoke to more than 5 thousand students about fighting drug trafficking in the schools. “We are giving future generations a culture of death and darkness,” adding that, “drugs and alcohol kill.”  On Apr 23, 2009, he exhorted thousands of students present not to be trapped by “the proposal of the easy shortcut, instant gratification, alcohol or drugs, because that is darkness.”

He urged, “Open your hearts to the light even though it is hard, do not allow yourselves to be enslaved by the promises that seem to be freedom but are in reality oppression, the promises of vain happiness, the promises of darkness.”

To the same group in 2008, he spoke about the children of alcoholic parents, of the boys and girls who are “abandoned of love, meaningful conversation, joy and who do not know what it is to play with Mom and Dad because their parents have succumb to the proposal of alcohol or drugs, which,” he says, “is darkness.”

An alcoholic mother myself, I appreciate Pope Francis’ focus on the perspectives of our children and how family alcoholism affects them.

in 2008, on Holy Thursday he washed the feet of 12 recovering drug addicts at a rehabilitation center in Buenos Aires.

4.       Pope Francis and Humility—the hallmark of recovery

One of the first things we discovered about our new Pope Francis was his apparent humility. From asking the crowd to pray for him to the stories of him washing the feet of AIDS patients, this Pope has already been identified to us as a very humble man.

ignatius2In Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the guiding principles behind the 12 Steps, and especially steps 2, 5 and 7 is humility. The word “humility” occurs 52 times in the first 164 pages of the “Big Book” and the “12&12.”  An alcoholic who fails to capture the essence of humility in her heart—not just in her mind—has a difficult road of recovery.

In speaking to the necessity for Step 7, Bill W writes in the 12&12, “That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God’s will, was missing.”

In speaking of taking Step 2, Bill writes on page 33 of the 12&12, “True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every A.A. meeting is an assurance that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate ourselves to Him.”

And to Step 5, it says in the 12&12 on p.58, “Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies.”

Fr. Joseph A. Tetlow, S.J., who became a Jesuit in 1947 and has served as a professor of history and dean of arts and sciences at Loyola University, writes in Making Choices for Christ,

“True humility does not attract many in this new age of self-realization. We tend to equate humility with self-abasement, but such “humility” would attract only the mentally ill. Christian humility, properly understood, requires a strong sense of self, and the greater the humility, the stronger the sense of self. For as more than one saint has remarked, humility is seeing and acknowledging the truth about yourself and your world.”

By practicing such a deep and obvious humility Pope Francis will show the way to those of us in recovery hoping to do the same.

5.       12th Step Work and the then-Cardinal Bergoglia’s call for a new evangelization in Latin America

Pope Francis, as Cardinal and head of the Church in Argentina, has shown a committed focus to the new evangelization, which is key for Catholic alcoholics.

Last May, along with the Latin American Bishops at their convention, then Cardinal Bergoglio, presented the Aparecida Document, which is the comprehensive document proposing a new evangelization. Pope Benedict gave his blessing to the Document. Our new Pope Francis spent a great deal of effort through this Document insisting the way to bring others back to Christ is by evangelizing through our actions. We normally might think of “evangelism” as intrusive and salesy. But this is not what is meant here. We are to evangelize by our example.

According to 12 Step texts, alcoholics are initially spiritually bankrupt; but many find their way back to God through practicing the principles of the 12 Steps.

The 12th Step calls us to “carry this message to other alcoholics.”  We are to “evangelize.”  We are, through our actions and example, to show active alcoholics how good life can be without alcohol.  We never insist or compel. We don’t force interventions. We can only be an example. We are to “evangelize” other alcoholics not with words but by our actions.

Taking the 12th Step a bit further, the Catholic alcoholic is in a position to be an example of how Christ transforms us.

Alcoholism has driven many away from the Church. In AA meetings I sit beside many “ex-Catholics.”  These ex-Catholics have found their way back to God, yet have not found their way back to their Church.  How do we evangelize them?

This is delicate but important 12 Step work. And I believe in addition to participating in communities like the Calix Society, the best way is by our example. Like Pope Francis’ example of forgoing the palace and the limo, our example of living our Catholic faith joyfully in recovery will lead ex-Catholics home. The New Evangelization called forth in this Latin American Aparecide Document, in the Year of Faith is in essence “12 Step work” for the Church.

In Search of Hope and Transformation

butterflyI’ve been an annoying re-blogger the past few days.  I spent three intense days on a marketing proposal I had to present Tuesday, and in good old obsessive fashion I thought of nothing else until it was complete and behind me.  Then yesterday I was in recovery mode from this and spent my time reading other people’s work and re-blogging good stuff.

Now that I’ve recovered from my marketing obsession, I have so many ideas that I want to write about. The problem is determining which one to dive into first. And then I saw a simple post over at Tired of Thinking About Drinking that inspired me to write my own similar post listing the “search terms” people use to find my blog.  This at least has gotten me going and I expect I’ll have two or three posts to follow before the day is over. I hope y’all (yes, I’m from Georgia) don’t get tired of me today!

Search terms used to find my blog:

  • mother son intimacy
  • aa logo
  • catholic and alcoholism
  • catholic alcoholic
  • adopt a cardinal
  • sobriety blogs
  • different kinds of saints
  • is aa ok for catholic
  • lectio divina
  • blog catholic alcoholism
  • 4th step prayer
  • catholic coping mechanisms
  • catholic alcohol addiction
  • prayer book for catholic addicts
  • mother teresa
  • catholic healing for alcoholic parent
  • catholic alcoholics anonymous women
  • catholics and alcohol
  • catholic and being alcoholic
  • gods will regarding alcoholism catholic
  • bruce willis alcoholic
  • mindy mccready suicide
  • 12 steps for catholic priests book
  • hope
  • mary magdalen and the egg
  • pilgrimage florida
  • catholics love alcohol
  • catholic beer
  • calix
  • heather king magnificat
  • “celebrate recovery” catholic
  • king paw jaguar
  • catholic alcohol recovery
  • catholic help with alcoholism
  • pope benedict commentary
  • catechism views on alcoholics anonymous
  • cloud of witnesses

Pretty interesting–at least to me!  So there are people out there searching for the kind of experiences I write about. Dear God, please direct my thinking and my writing so that if ever someone comes across my blog they are left with Your hope. As your dear servant Pope Emeritus Benedict said,

“To be effective the proclamation of faith must begin with a heart that believes, hopes, loves; and a heart that loves Christ also believes in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit!”

So if it be Your will, God, let me be an example of this transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  For this third Sunday of Lent, we’re linking up with RAnn of This, That and The Other Thing. My offerings this week:

Have you had “The Talk” with your middle-schooler where I wrote about having the alcohol talk with my kids is actually more important to me than having the sex talk.

In Thank you, Papa I say thank you and happy trails to Pope Emeritus Benedict.

In my 7-Quick Takes, I wrote about the 7 Things I like About Alcoholics Anonymous.

And in Dear God, I write a thank you letter to God for the blessings in my life.

So that’s it!  Head on over to the Catholic Carnival and add your own link to participate.  Be sure to check out the other posts as they’re always filled with such hope and inspiration!

Adopt-a-Cardinal: Prayers for Godfried Danneels

Adopt-a-Cardinal: Prayers for Godfried Danneels I have adopted this Cardinal and will be praying for him before, during and for 3 days after the conclave.

Godfried Danneels, from Belgium, born 4.6.1933. He’s been a Cardinal since 2.2.1983 and his function is: Archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium

He is one year younger than my Dad and makes the 80 year old cut off for the conclave by just three months. In 2003, Danneels was voted “Most Remarkable Personality” of the year by Flemish television viewers. He speaks Dutch, English, German, French and Italian fluently. May my prayers for this Cardinal be deeply blessed. Adopt a Cardinal yourself at adoptacardinal.org

Pope Today: The Tempter Is Subtle, Pushing Us To a False Good

pope-benedict-1-sizedOver one-hundred thousand faithful prayed this morning with Pope Benedict XVI in the penultimate Angelus of his pontificate. The Pope thanked people for their prayers, support and spiritual closeness, “in these particular days for the Church and for [himself].”

Commenting on the Gospel of Jesus’ temptations in the desert, proclaimed on this first Sunday of Lent, Pope Benedict said,

“The tempter is subtle: he does not push us directly toward evil, but to a false good.”

Each of us has his or her individual definition of what this “false good” may be.  For alcoholics, we are tempted by what we perceive to be the good parts of drinking…the conviviality, the relaxation, camaraderie.

The Holy Father went on to explain that, ultimately, what is at stake in the temptations is faith.

“In the decisive moments of life, but, if we look closely, in every moment, we are at a crossroads: do we want to follow the self, or God?” Jesus took temptations from us in order to give us the victory. We do not fear the fight against the spirit of evil. The important thing is that we battle together with him, with God who is the victor.”

The Angelus
. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the power of Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your Word.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Glory be…

Best Analysis-Commentary on Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

vatican-hit-by-lighting-as-pope-says-he-is-stepping-downThis is the best analysis I’ve found of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  The author is trustworthy as a Catholic faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Unlike me, who immediately took to my blog first to love and support the Pope, then to proclaim my hope for the future and then to defend the faith from jerks 🙂 —yes, unlike me, this author Steve Jalsevac over at Lifesite News, took a few days to process the news. And his article here shows excellent reason and discernment to the truth about what all of this means for the Catholic Church in the world.

Here is an excerpt, and then please click here to find the entirety of his message:

February 14, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since Pope Benedict’s shock announcement Monday, I have held off commenting. Time was needed to step back and consider just what  this astounding action from the world’s leading defender of life and family really meant. It was an earthquake announcement that had to have greater significance than the Pope merely being tired and worn out.  The two lightning strikes onto the dome of St. Peter’s that evening added an uncanny emphasis that the Pope’s action demanded the world’s attention.


Fat Tuesday, Pope Benedict and the Haters

hatersI’ve injured my back, not by one big accident or fall, but by four long road trips in six weeks, sitting at the computer on my arse every day, and neglecting to heed the dull signals when they first appeared in December.  I know better but rarely does knowing better do me any good.  So, here I am with a bulging disc, pain radiating down my left leg alternating between ice and heat, overdosing on Ibuprofen and feeling quite sorry for myself.

Fat Tuesday is supposed to be a fun day.

Nothing to do but lie on my back. And I’ve been online all day–mainly reading the Pope stories.  I love Pope Benedict XVI.  I have always admired him from the very first day he was elected back in 2005.  Back then there were so many opinions about how choosing him was an “opportunity lost” for the faith because he wasn’t “progressive.”  And he wasn’t expected to change the Church teachings to make everybody feel good.  The haters were out then; but I actually took comfort every time they spewed their venom because it reinforced for me the Church had elected the right man.  The more they hated, the happier I was with our new Pope.

It amazes me the awful things people say–there is so much hate.  My Catholic Church and faith is one of the only groups it’s culturally acceptable to persecute.  And don’t freak out that I am using the word, “persecute.”  I looked it up:

per·se·cute  /ˈpərsəˌkyo͞ot/ Verb, Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of their race or political or religious beliefs. Harass or annoy (someone) persistently. Synonyms: pursue – torment – pester – chase – harass

So yes, I am using the right diction here.  Persecute. It’s not acceptable (thank goodness!) to persecute black people, women, Muslims or gay people. But for some reason it is accepted in mainstream culture to openly treat the Catholic Church with hostility.

These “comments” are taken in five minutes from one mainstream random article.  I could multiply these over and over.  And actually these are pretty tame compared to what I’ve read today about my Pope.

  • He looks very old
  • Very interesting at the time of the 1929 stock market crash the Vatican becomes its own nation state.
  • leave the perverse ponzi scheme to someone else… smh
  • They should do away with the whole “pope” thing.
  • Who would want to be the head of huge corporation bogged down in the 16th century
  • Your God is Imaginary
  • The weak link in Catholicism is The Church
  • the vatican is the number 1 crooks in the world
  • The Catholic church is an antiquated and self-serving organization which has systematically suppressed women and exploited children in the name of God.
  • It acquired it’s wealth by conquering other civilizations and forcing them into slavery
  • It defamed good women biblical figures by declaring them prostitutes when they were not
  • Only to propagate its patriarchal theology
  • How do people still associate themselves with this corrupt corporation?
  • Perhaps he does not want to end up publicly drooling into his lap like the previous pope.
  • Heck, I’m still waiting for the definitive explanation of how the Inquisition took place for over 400 years. That included over 12,000 burnings at the stake, many alive.
  • Pedophilia?
  • a convenient way to step down from the troubles he doesn’t want to deal with
  • The Church is Big Business and these smaller parishes are simply like 7-11’s 
  • Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic Church, is stepping down because he didn’t believe enough in God.
  • it seems the pope’s brother believes it was the butler and business leaks, and NOT children’s sexual abuse for decades that pooped the pope. what a disgrace.
  • Defiling a childs innocence is fine as long as you don’t leak documents in the proccess! 
  • Vatileaks is what weighed on the pope and not the rampant pedophilia scandal
  • The 15th century is the last time anything was updated in the roman catholic church
  • if anyone has evil secrets, it is Fr. Ratzinger.

So how do I respond to this?  Do I reply and respond back on anonymous commentary at the bottoms of articles?  Do I fight back, say what I really think about the character of the people making these attacks?  Do I roll my eyes and blow it off?  These attacks are so uncensored.  The people who hate the Catholic Church make no efforts to hide their anger.  It’s as if they feel safe attacking the Church because they have so many with them on their side who feel the same way. Strength and courage in numbers, I suppose?

It doesn’t hurt my feelings, per se. It’s more like reading minutes from a secret KKK meeting—like standing outside the monkey cage at the zoo. All these crazy monkeys making a scene and I just watch in amazement because they’re just so, well, uncivilized.

No, it doesn’t “hurt.”  It would only hurt if what they were saying were the truth.  What it does is make me want to defend this beautiful Catholic faith of mine. And stick up for the amazing, humble, holy man who is Pope now only for two more weeks–but what will that accomplish after all?

There is nothing I can say to a bully that would make a bit of difference.  No point trying to rationalize with this hate.  Actually, I just need to get it off my own chest, punch a few pillows.

So, I’m going to say it here in my blog, what I really feel.


But I forgive you, I suppose.  Because you obviously know not what you do. Plus I went to an AA meeting today, which always helps me love my fellow-man more.

I feel much better now.