Saint Monica: Another Patron Saint for Alcoholics

saint monica
Saint Monica is patron saint of married women, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse.

Saint Monica was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is honoured in the Roman Catholic Church where she is remembered and venerated for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering against the adultery of her husband, and a prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica to have wept every night for her son Augustine.

Monica was born a Christian at Thagaste, North Africa, around the year 331, the daughter of devout parents who educated her in the faith. Augustine gives only one incident from her youth, obviously relayed to him by Monica herself, of how she was in danger of becoming a wine bibber, but was corrected when her secret sips in the wine cellar were discovered and a maid, in a moment of anger, called her a “drunkard.” This stinging rebuke prompted her to change her behavior and develop perseverence. Perhaps this is why recovering alcoholics are among the many groups who intercede to Saint Monica.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Monica
Dear St. Monica,
Troubled wife and mother, many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime. Yet, you never despaired or lost faith. With confidence, persistence, and profound faith, you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius, and your beloved son, Augustine; your prayers were answered. Grant me that same fortitude, patience,and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (Mention your intention here.) and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

She was married early in life to Patritius, who held an official position in Tagaste, He was a pagan, his temper was violent, and he appears to have had bad behavior outside the marriage. Consequently Monica’s married life was far from being a happy one. Her mother-in-law was as bad as her husband. Her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence.

Monica had three children: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and she experienced much grief when Augustine fell ill. She asked Patritius to allow Augustine to be baptized; Patritius agreed, but on the boy’s recovery withdrew his consent.

Eventually her husband became a Christian but died shortly afterwards. She decided not to remarry.

All Monica’s anxiety now centered in Augustine; he was promiscuous and partied all the time. And, as he himself tells us, he was lazy. Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he shared his views regarding Manichaeism Monica drove him away from her home. However, she is said to have experienced a strange vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Monica followed her wayward son to Rome, where he had gone secretly. She met St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance.

In his book Confessions, Augustine wrote of a peculiar practice of his mother in which she “brought to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, and wine.” When she moved to Milan, the bishop Ambrose forbade her to use the offering of wine, since “it might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink”. So, Augustine wrote of her:

In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor – so that the communion of the Lord’s body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.

— Confessions 6.2.2

Mother and son spent six months of true peace and then he was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.

At the port of Ostia, Monica fell ill. She knew that her work had been accomplished and that life would soon be over. She had such a joyful disposition that her sons were unaware of the approach of death. As Monica’s strength failed, she said to Augustine: “I do not know what there is left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. All I wished for was that I might see you a Catholic and a child of Heaven. God granted me even more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service.”

The finest pages of Augustine’s Confessions were written as the result of the emotion he experienced after his mother’s death.

The “weeping” springs outside Santa Monica, California were named for Saint Monica.

Guilty! Abortion “Doctor” Guilty of Murdering Babies and An Immigrant Woman

Will anything convince you that you've been sold a lie when it comes to abortion "rights?"

Will anything convince you that you’ve been sold a lie when it comes to abortion “rights?”

If this had been an upper or middle-class neighborhood, the media would have sensationalized this trial like they do every other high-profile gruesome trial in this country. But they had to protect their carefully crafted definition of abortion as “healthcare” so they ignored the story.

And because these crimes were perpetrated only on poor women and their babies, they were able to ignore the story for two years because nobody cared, right? It’s malpractice journalism. But they get away with it.  Thank goodness for blogs and social media!

Justice for a few of these underprivileged women and these babies today when Kermit Gosnell was convicted of the murders of three babies and one poor immigrant woman.  Sad that there were hundreds (or thousands?) more that will not receive recognition and justice.

A fantastic organization, Susan B. Anthony List, reacted to the verdict as well on Monday:

“The greatest tragedy is that Kermit Gosnell is not alone. Exploitation of women and complete disregard for their health and well-being are problems endemic to the entire abortion industry,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “There are numerous examples of negligence and even death in abortion facilities across the country. Now is the moment to realize that abortion is neither safe, nor rare. Abortion is a brutal, painful procedure, both for the child that it kills and the woman who it wounds. We must protect children both inside and outside the womb who experience unspeakable pain from abortion.”

Here is a portion of the AP story, in case you, too never heard of this trial:

Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal  late-term abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, that he delivered babies  who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants  “snipped” the newborns’ spines, as he referred to it.

The grisly details came out more than two years ago during an investigation  of prescription drug trafficking at Gosnell’s clinic in an impoverished section  of West Philadelphia.

Authorities said the clinic was a foul-smelling “house of horrors” with bags  and bottles of stored fetuses, including jars of severed feet, along with  bloodstained furniture, dirty medical instruments, and cats roaming the  premises.

Four former clinic employees have pleaded guilty to murder and four more to other charges. They include Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, a cosmetologist who helped  perform abortions.

Midway through the six-week trial, the public accused the  mainstream media of ignoring the case because it reflected badly on the abortion  rights cause. Major news organizations denied the allegation, though a number  promptly sent reporters to cover the trial.

After prosecutors rested their case, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart  threw out for lack of evidence three of seven murder counts involving aborted  babies. That left the jury to weigh charges involving fetuses identified as  Baby A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E.

Prosecution experts said one was nearly 30 weeks along when it was aborted,  and it was so big that Gosnell allegedly joked it could “walk to the bus.” A  second fetus was said to be alive for some 20 minutes before a clinic worker  snipped its neck. A third was born in a toilet and was moving before another  clinic employee grabbed it and severed its spinal cord, according to testimony.  Baby E let out a soft whimper before Gosnell cut its neck, the jury was told;  Gosnell was acquitted in that baby’s death.

Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, argued that none of the fetuses was born  alive and that any movements were posthumous twitching or spasms.

He also contended that the 2009 death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar of  Woodbridge, Va., a Bhutanese immigrant who had been given repeated doses of  Demerol and other powerful drugs to sedate her and induce labor, was caused by  unforeseen complications.

Prosecutors described Gosnell’s employees as nearly as desperate as the  patients. Some had little or no medical training, and at least one was a  teenager still in high school. One woman needed the work to support her children  after her husband’s murder.

Stephen Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate who could not find a  residency, told jurors that Gosnell taught him how to snip babies’ spines,  something he then did at least 100 times at the clinic.

Read more:  HERE

Catholic Priests, Nuns and Religious Recover from Alcoholism through Guest House

00000000000000000000000000I just received this email from my affiliation with Guest House.

Guest House is an essential/vital /necessary/absolutely wonderful mission that helps Catholic priests, nuns and religious start the road to recovery from alcoholism. Worthy, worthy, worth charity. Please help out if you are financially able.  Here is the letter I just received from them promoting their new e-learning project, and I couldn’t wait to share so I am sharing verbatim:

***

Guest House is North America’s founding behavioral health and addiction program for Catholic clergy and religious.  Since 1956, we’ve provided personalized clinical treatment with a spiritual emphasis.  Our goal is focused:  To successfully return men and women to their mission.  Our accredited full time clinical staff provides these services at our tranquil, private residential facilities.

To provide such important treatment, education and recovery to more than 8,000 clients since our inception, we’ve constantly sought out new and innovative ways to treat, reach, educate, serve and follow-up with our clients.  As part of our mission to the Church, we have recognized that the valuable information compiled in our field is crucial to all servants of the Church, and all advocates of education, prevention, intervention, treatment and lifelong sobriety, including:

  • Key decision makers within Orders and Dioceses
  • Hospitals, health systems and other agencies who provide behavioral health services
  • Therapists, social workers and others who must maintain Continuing Education Units (CEU’s)
  • Our alumni and alumnae
  • Family members
  • Parishioners
  • Students
  • Seminarians
  • Donors
  • Volunteers
  • Our dedicated staff
  • Teachers and educators

I’m pleased to tell you of  a significant new Guest House initiative.

Education is a critical part of awareness for the many and varied audiences we serve.  Debuting in April, 2013 is a Guest House and NCCA (National Catholic Council on Addictions) comprehensive e-learning educational library. Offerings are made possible through an affiliation with  Essential Learning, LLC., a corporation that offers online learning, staff compliance training and continuing education for behavioral health, mental health, addiction treatment, community health, developmental disability, community action and child welfare organizations.  The cost for users runs from $8.00 for some individual courses to a high of $99.00 for a series of online lessons.

  • Available exclusively on-line via http://www.guesthouse.org/education
  • Catalogue incorporates nearly 500 course selections
  • More than 800 training hours available using the most contemporary digital techniques
  • No other Catholic addiction treatment facility has such extensive content available to you
  • Library is designed for everyone from Church leadership through medical and addiction   treatment  professionals; CEU units are available
  • Courses from adolescents to aging; ethics, risk management and leadership techniques

As always, thanks to so many of you for your ongoing support of Guest House and NCCA in our critical endeavors. Whether we are providing Catholic clergy and religious addiction treatment and prevention, education or recovery, always remember, “Guest House Heals!”  Find out more and follow our Blog at guesthouse.org.

Looking Forward to taking my kids to Opening Night of this Movie

MovieStills_CoryBrand1My boys are aware of the effects alcoholism has on families. As middle schoolers they’re mature enough to understand the themes and relate to the recovery and redemption message of Home Run, which opens in theatres across America this weekend.

Supporters/sponsors of the film include Celebrate Recovery (a Christian-based excellent recovery program), Iron Sharpens Iron, Fathers.com, and the National Fatherhood Initiative.  Gotta love THAT.

I’m all about boys and baseball. And I’m all about responsible and modeling fatherhood.  And any Christian messages that are mixed in will be icing on the cake!  Can’t WAIT to see this.

Here is a teaser from the presser. I’ll review on Saturday, of course:

HOME RUN

Freedom is Possible

Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control.

Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible.

As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future … and win back the love he left behind.  With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.

Based on thousands of true stories, HOME RUN is a powerful reminder that with God, it’s never too late … because freedom is possible.

Pet Peeves

I’m wondering where the term “pet peeves” came from.  I’ll look it up via the lazy man’s route to information: wikipedia.

A pet peeve is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find it.  Its first usage was around 1919.The term is a back-formation from the 14th-century word peevish, meaning “ornery or ill-tempered”.

Pet peeves often involve specific behaviors of someone close, such as a spouse or significant other.These behaviors may involve disrespect, manners, personal hygiene, relationships, and family issues.

A key aspect of a pet peeve is that it may well seem acceptable to others.

One of my pet peeves is when people apologize, when they share at the meeting, for being late to an AA meeting.  Another is bloggers who apologize for not having posted very much lately—-so I’m not going to apologize for not posting at all lately.

200 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

numbers-200Thank you so much! I just noticed I now have 200 “followers,” which is so cool for this girl from Alpharetta, Georgia.  Some of you may follow me because of my experiences in alcoholism and recovery and some because of my experiences as a Catholic.

I appreciate all of your comments and insight as I write daily about things that come to my mind.

But most of all, I enjoy reading YOUR blogs. From you I learn so much about what it means to be a friend among friends, no better and no worse than anybody else.  Have a happy, holy Good Friday everybody!

Number 9

 

The Cloud of the Unknowing, Cafeteria Catholics and Pope Francis

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene--OlsenOne of my favorite spiritual works–I haven’t read it in its entirety but as I do with most of my God books I read bits and pieces and skip around—is The Cloud of the Unknowing.

The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the 14th century. It is a spiritual guide on Catholic contemplative prayer. It proposes the only way to truly “know” God is to abandon all preconceived notions and beliefs or “knowledge” about God and be courageous enough to surrender your mind and ego to the realm of “unknowingness,” at which point, you begin to glimpse the true nature of God.

With the election of Pope Francis it seems a new era has swarmed into the Church. I am careful not to say a “better” era. I felt Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a brilliant pope who left us beautiful epistles, wonderful homilies and made great strides in uniting certain facets of Christians with the Church.  Also, he held fast to supporting the Church’s moral truths which are under attack in the secular world, therefore our very Catholic selves are under attack.  I loved him, looked at him as a true shepherd of our Church, guided by God to shepherd the whole Church.

What I mean by this new era is how Pope Francis is able to appeal to the other Catholics, ex-Catholics and the ones who might be more cafeteria-style in their Catholic morality but who nonetheless want to know, love and serve God. Unable to grasp the importance of God’s moral truths in following Him, they still want to follow Him.

And Francis opens that door, without compromising on the Church’s moral truths. By his humility, his meekness, his imperative and primary call to serve the poor, these Catholics fall silent–in a good way, silent. They stop attacking temporarily. They perceive a pope they might actually be able to relate to. This is the God they know and love, the God who serves the poor and the God who loves all of us, even those of us who can’t—-by nature of our ignorance and pride, which we all have to some extent in different capacities—come to accept moral truths.

I’ve listened to the commentary and have been impressed with comments like “breath of fresh air in the Church,” and “guarded hopefulness.”  As for me, it’s funny because the Church has ALWAYS been about social justice–at least in my lifetime. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were tremendous champions of the poor and the vulnerable.  So why couldn’t these other Catholics see it? And why do they see Pope Francis as a breath of fresh air?

I can only guess it’s because these types of Catholics abhor authority, hierarchy, pomp, Catholic morality?  I don’t have a problem with authority, hierarchy, pomp (beauty!) and theological morality. So, I saw the Church’s grand social justice network as part of a whole, not a separate thing.

Anyways, for those cafeteria and ex-Catholics who might entertain coming back to the fold because of Pope Francis, welcome! And yay! You don’t have to have a perfect understanding (I say “understanding” because if these Catholics truly understood Catholic morality they would embrace it) of morality in order to be welcomed in the Church.  Just come back. Your understanding of the necessity of her moral teachings will come more readily once you’re here for a while.  So come back and let the Church and the Holy Spirit transform you.

The most important moral teaching, the foundation of it all, is the Church teaching on the dignity of the human person. Thank God for her stubborn insistence on condemning abortion. Pro-life in all circumstances, it is my prayer that Catholics who support a “woman’s right to choose abortion” will come to understand the love behind the Church’s teaching on this.

I’ve been thinking about the things that appeal to more liberal Catholics–and in addition to social justice, to me they seem to be more existential in nature. I’m making a big generalization here but it’s also an invitation.

where-only-love-can-go-30-days-with-john-kirvan-paperback-cover-artCheck out the Cloud of the Unknowing. A contemplative myself, this is a great entry point for those looking for the softer side of the Faith. Softer as in—it’s all about “love”— and not morality.  But this spiritual classic is not for beginners who wish to dabble in spirituality and new ageness. This spirituality is deeply rooted in Jesus, in forgetting everything about the world and getting to know God without distraction.

The Cloud of the Unknowing is written in middle English and for me is very difficult to read. I have to read every sentence three times to get it. So books like the one by John Kirvan, “Where Only Love Can Go,” are excellent tools for me to embrace this spiritual classic.  Where Only Love Can Go is a thirty day trip through The Cloud of the Unknowing, in modern language.  Here is an excerpt:

My dear friend in the Spirit, up until now you have lived a good but ordinary Christian life, not very different from your friends. But apparently God is calling you to something more. Because of the love in his heart, which he has had for you from the moment of your creation, he is not going to leave you alone, not about to let you off so easily. You are beginning to experience in  a special way God’s everlasting love, which you were brought out of nothingness and redeemed at the price of his blood. You can no longer be content to live at a distance from God. In his great grace he has kindled a desire in your heart to be more closely united to him.”

Kirwan notes that the anonymous author of The Cloud of the Unknowing instructs its reader that this is a book and a journey, which requires serious attention. He goes on to say, “The Cloud of the Unknowing is not for those who are tempted to “dip into” spirituality, to play around the edges of contemplation, presuming that the journey to God is a trip into warm fuzziness and uninterrupted serenity.”

So, in conclusion here I’m excited that ex-Catholics and “cafeteria” Catholics are looking at Pope Francis fondly and therefore looking more fondly at our Church. If only they would stop criticizing her for a minute and simply experience her in all her beauty and complexity, they will come to love her as I do. The Cloud of the Unknowing, a very Catholic spiritual work, might be a good place to start. And eventually, their understanding of God’s moral truths will come—and they will see the moral truths are there not to punish or condemn us but to free us and perfect us to closer union with our Creator.

Sober Sundays Vol. 1

sober sundaysThis “Sober Sundays” link-up is party time. And you’re invited to the party. There are 2 ways to participate, so CLICK HERE for instructions.

Sweet Sundays. Sundays are days of rest. Real rest. Not the recovering-from-a-hangover type of rest. Many of us made promises to ourselves and others on Sundays–we would quit drinking, the result of having too much on Saturday nights.

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For Sober Sundays Vol. 1, I’d like to provide a gratitude list because as long as I remember to be grateful for the blessings in my life then I won’t slip back into self-pity, feeling sorry for myself that I can’t rush out to drink a 12-pack of green beer today.

  1. I’m grateful that today I am truly present for my children. They sense it and they love it.
  2. I’m grateful today that my husband isn’t thinking about leaving me.
  3. I’m grateful today that we have a new pope!  I’m so excited about Pope Francis!
  4. I’m grateful today I can form true partnerships with others because of sobriety.
  5. I’ll be grateful today if anybody joins me in this link up!  I’d feel really silly if I was at this party all by myself.

And the post I’d like to share is the one I wrote here where I give five reasons Pope Francis is a great choice by the Holy Spirit for alcoholics.

Join the party!  Click on the little blue frog button below and add your link!  For instructions on how to fully participate in a blog-hop way, click here.


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