Author Archives: paulcoholic

The Future of the Four Last Things Blog

I have spent much of this past month discerning the future of “The Four Last Things Blog.” Originally it was to be an auxiliary to Sober Catholic but focusing on the specific subjects of Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell (the four “last things” we are all going to face one day), rather than general recovery topics from a Catholic perspective. Purgatory, too. Although that isn’t a “Last Thing” as it precedes Heaven. This was because these subjects are rarely covered in Twelve Step meetings. However, despite the good intentions, I haven’t really done much. I never intended to blog extensively here at “The Four Last Things” anyway, but I had hoped to delve somewhat more into the various topics, even wandering off into metaphysical speculations and other randomness, as well as any possible grief recovery blogging. There are just over 150 posts which averages to nearly 18 a year. A lot are repetitious ones from prior years on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, cemetery visits and devotions and the like. But, “I never intended to blog extensively anyway” when combined with a slacker-blogger attitude has resulted in the blog being essentially undeveloped.

More activity has been found on the blog’s social media Pages on Facebook and Google+. I might keep those. That’s part of the discernment. I could just as easily post Four Last Thing’s material to “Sober Catholic’s” social Pages in the future, I just don’t know. It might be better to just consolidate. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to export content from a Facebook or Google+ Page and import that content into another one. There are points to continuing the Pages or deleting them (or consolidating them into “Sober Catholic’s” if that’s possible.)

So, given that the stated purpose of the blog was to bring a focus onto the Four Last Things as they are mostly ignored in the real life rooms and online universe of addiction recovery, and as this blog’s publishing has fallen way short of that desired goal, I think that the most reasonable solution is to combine “The Four Last Things Blog” into “Sober Catholic.” Relevant posts can be published there, and in case I feel a need to blog on matters such as death, dying and the afterlife but without the recovery aspect, those posts can go on “Paul Sofranko’s Blog.” At any rate, “Four Last Things” type posts will be far more visible than they are now, continuing to exist in the post-shutdown afterlife 😉

So, the possible plan for shutting it down will be to export the blog’s file, then import that file into Sober Catholic. This file includes all posts, comments, categories, tags and media. I have to manually transfer blogrolls and sidebar widgets; one of the latter, the “Find a Grave” widget, will go to “Paul Sofranko’s Blog.”

But for now I’ll just post this here for now and think about it. One historical sidenote: way back before I self-hosted my blogs they were on Google’s Blogspot servers; I decided once to delete “the Four Last Things,” then changed my mind and resurrected it. So, there’s been some doubt all along as to whether this is a worthy standalone effort. However, it has been in continuous existence since 2010.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Happy 100th, Mom!

An annual ritual here of wishing my Mom a happy birthday. Today would have been her 100th. She passed away on November 7th, 2005.

Her death hit me rather hard, despite being expected. “Anticipatory grief” does not prepare you for the real thing. At least, it didn’t do so for me.

This isn’t going to be some long, poetic, inspirational post on Moms and losing them. Any such stuff will remain private for the time being. I do have a novel-in-progress that deals with that, although it is on a back burner dimly lit.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

From sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord

I learned today that an online friend died when she was hit by a truck while crossing a street. She passed away later at the hospital. She received Last Rites before she died.

The suddenness of any death typically provokes a reaction of shock and dismay. Someone is there, and then suddenly gone. The quickness is a reminder that we, too, can suddenly be “called home.” We know not the day nor the hour of our passing. We must always be prepared as if today will be our last. But who really does this?

The suddenness of someone’s death also provokes another reaction: that of a desire to quickly think about the living and how we never really appreciate them while they are still with us. I suppose that this is essentially taking people for granted, but I also think that it is a symptom that we do not have death always in mind. It is always a distant, abstract thing. We know it will happen, we prefer not to think about it.

So, death is a distant thing from our minds and the permanence of people in our lives is assumed.

I think if we reverse this on both notions then culture and civilization will be far more peaceful and compassionate.

Incidentally, the lady who died was in recovery, she had purchased both of my Catholic devotional books and enjoyed them, bringing them frequently to Adoration to meditate with. So, her death was a little sensitive for me. I am truly saddened by her loss.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

To dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life

The Second Reading from the Office of Readings for Sunday in the 29th week of Ordinary Time of the Liturgy of the Hours is “From a letter to Proba by Saint Augustine, bishop:”

Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for? Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple? There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end.

Courtesy: DivineOffice.org

Indeed, why do we pray for so many things when Heaven fulfills all our desires?

From the Gospel According to Matthew:

Matthew 6:33 “Therefore, seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added to you as well.”

Courtesy: The Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version

From God come all things; we seek Heaven above them all. If we seek with all our desire to live in the Lord’s house all the days of our life, and place that above all other things, how can He not give us what we need?

It is such an earnest prayer. It is a prayer in which we desire to come Home most of all, away from this life’s troubles.

Just remember, there’s a difference between praying for what we want and praying for what we need.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi

Today is October 3rd and that is the vigil of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. For Franciscans worldwide, tonight is the “Transitus,”or the ritual observance of his death.

I won’t go into details as to what transpires during the ritual, as I am not a Franciscan and thus have never participated. However, I will blog briefly on the event as it is significant for this blog in some ways.

I read up on the Transitus and various Franciscan sites and blogs variously describe the ritual observance as important as it connects Franciscans with each other – those living today and those who have gone before. That this great community is united by the observance of the death of their Order’s Founder is a wonderful lesson. It is something that can be incorporated in our lives.

“Memento Mori.” “Be mindful of your death.” In memorializing the anniversaries of when our loved ones died, we remember them as they were if their death was lingering due to age or infirmity; but we can also remember them as they had been when still vital and younger. If they died suddenly, it can be a way to “manipulate time,” they were suddenly taken from us but in or memorial observance we can “be there” in some spiritual fashion. If they died too young, well, perhaps it can be a manner in which they are brought forward in life along with us.

Our beloved dead are not forgotten, they are still with us, although in a ritualistic spiritual way. Their death is no longer some event isolated in thr past that might fade a somewhat in memory over the years. Oh, we still remember when Mom or Uncle Jimmy died, but over the years the date slowly becomes just another day in November or July.

Ritual is important. It helps organize life and mark time. “Ritual” is also the hidden word in spiRITUALity, something lost, I think, in those who eschew religion in favor of only spirituality.

As I write this, the feeling is growing within me to actually think about doing this somehow for some of my beloved dead. One way is on the Anniversary of a death is to say the “Office of the Dead” from the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours. Here is an online source: Office of the Dead.

Perhaps I’ll think of some thing to do in addition. Maybe whoever reads this can offer suggestions in the comments.

(I may reblog this in an edited form on SoberCatholic.com.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

at home with the Lord

The Second Reading from today’s Mass on the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

Courtesy: EWTN Daily Readings

“At home with the Lord.” This is where we should all hope to be. And St. Paul necessarily reminds us that one day we will “all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” and receive our just judgment. Many people rarely, if ever, think of this. Or people presume that “all go to Heaven,” for if you go to enough funerals you’ll find that the dead are practically canonized then and there.

With the moral relativism rampant today in the West, and moral objectivity reorienting on to a morally subjective perspective in which society replicates the sin of Adam and Eve (they were promised by Satan that they will be like gods and will determine what is good and what is evil), we need more reminders that there is a Judge, and we aren’t Him.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Happy Ninety-ninth, Mom

My Mom would have turned 99 years old today. Born January 20, 1916, she married my Dad on April 15, 1937 (before that became Income Tax Day here in the USA) and she passed away November 7, 2005. In between she served the Church in her capacity as a teacher’s aide. and later secretary at the parish school. Oh, she also raised 5 kids. I was the fifth. Mom and Dad needed to practice on the first four before they got to having me. 😉

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

And at the hour of our death

Have you ever thought about the hour of your death? Not just about your death in general, or how long you might live. But exactly when you’ll die?

This is the last chance for Satan to snatch you from the Lord. Unless you’ve prepared yourself by way of the Sacraments, prayer and a lifetime of “spiritual progress,” your final minutes on Earth will be The Enemy’s last chance to get you for Itself for all Eternity.

Worried? There’s a prayer for that!

It’s Mom to the rescue! Doesn’t Mom make everything better? Well, same thing for when you’re about to face the end of your mortal existence.

The venerable and ancient prayer of the Church to the Blessed Mother, said by millions of Catholics daily in the Rosary (totally perhaps a few billion “Hail Mary’s” every day), is the succor for such a worry.

“Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.”

See the last six words? “…at the hour of our death.”

Mary will watch over you. But not just you, when you say the “Hail Mary” on the Rosary or just by itsef in moments of need, offer it up also for other people. It does say “pray for us sinners” so you’re not just praying for yourself, but for other people, too. Now, and at the hour of their death.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima

Reblogged from Sober Catholic:

On October 13, 1917 the final Marian Apparition at Fatima, Portugal took place.

I know I’m a few weeks late with this, but upon reflection, I decided to push back writing this until today, the Feast of All Hallow’s Eve (a/k/a “Halloween”). I’ll explain at the end.

Seventy thousand people attended the event, which was supposed to have a miracle promised by the Virgin Mary so that all may believe.

Amongst those present were representatives of the Portuguese media, all socialist and all anti-clerical (theophobes who despised the Catholic Church, professed atheism, and who cooperated in what they hoped would be the eventual destruction of the Church in Portugal. The country had undergone a revolution in 1910 which deposed the Catholic monarch and imposed restrictions on the Church.)

Our Lady appeared as promised, but not alone. St. Joseph also appeared, holding the Christ Child.

Oh, yes: the sun also danced in the sky. Witnessed by all those in attendance, and by more hundreds of miles away, the sun whirled about in the sky, terrifying the witnesses.

It also appeared to hurtle towards the Earth, convincing people that the World was ending (and this part of the Apparition is why I decided to take advantage of my posting tardiness and write this today.)

One note on the sun dancing: for anyone who may be skeptical, one evidence that “something” happened lays in the fact that it had been raining heavily all day long, so much so that the ground throughout the area was drenched. Saturated with water, and combined with the foot traffic of 70,000 attendees, it was a horrific muddy mess.

Until the sun dried it. Nearly instantly. According to all those present, after the Apparition was over and the sun returned to its normal state, the ground was hardened as though it had not seen rain for weeks.

And another note for skeptics: this was all duly reported by the anti-clerical media. The reporters had gone there hoping (or rather assuming) that the whole event would be a non-happening; that the seers would be shamed,the Church embarrassed and once and for all the foolish belivers would have their religious superstitions exposed for what they are – nonsense.

But no, they couldn’t deny the event, their skepticism and non-belief didn’t prevent them from witnessing the Miracle of the Sun, nor acknowledging the effects on the physical environment.

So much for that.

Now, as to why I “reframed the situation” and took advantage of my lateness in posting this.

As the sun plunged to the Earth the believers were understandably freaked out. They thought the world was ending.

The liturgical calendar for the Catholic Church has tomorrow as the Solemnity of All Saints, and after that the Memorial of All Souls. All Saints is for all those in Heaven, officially canonized by the Church or not; and All Souls is for the Faithful Departed who are undergoing purification in Purgatory.

These two days are there (amongst other reasons) to remind us of our ultimate end. Someday we will all die. There is no escaping that.

Maybe this is something for you to consider, before God decides to hurl the Sun at you.

Note: I have been writing on the Marian Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal over on the Sober Catholic blog. See the link above for access to all the posts. (Basically, see the “Fatima” Category of posts on Sober Catholic.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Death is gain

The Second Reading from Today’s Mass for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philiippians:

Philippians 1: 20C-24: “Brothers and sisters:Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

via USCCB.

This is one of the two essential “missions” for this blog. One being to discuss certain things that don’t get much traffic in Twelve Step meetings; the other is a way to express my yearnings for the afterlife.

The latter is by no means a suicidal wish for I will remain on the Earth for as long as God wishes to keep me here.

But I do long to “depart this life and be with Christ,” for that is truly better. But, unless I am mistaken, I feel that He still has plans for me in this life, plans I continue to discern and carry out to the best of my ability. Which quite often seems very insufficient.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"