Category Archives: Catholicism

And so it begins… a cycle of anniversaries

(NOTE: edited significantly from earlier today on Sober Catholic)

One of the things that I found helpful in Catholicism is finding that the liturgical calendar is a handy way to live out the year. In doing so, you are reminded that the seasons do not just correspond to geography and climate, but the spiritual world as well.

There is an ebb and flow to it, and if used as intended serves as an excellent way to grow spiritually closer to the Lord.

Six years ago today my Mom was taken to the ICU for reasons unknown at the time. We had thought it was related to her heart condition (she had surgery earlier in the year and a stent was implanted in her heart), but as it turned out she had a ruptured bowel.

She died from it on November 7th, but that is for a later post. But today begins a particular cycle of anniversaries of her final weeks, for the dates now fall upon the days-of-the week as they occurred in 2005, the first time this has happened since her death that year.

Not that it really makes these anniversaries any different, it is just another year. But somehow the coincidence of dates and days makes them a little more, I don’t know, poignant is a word that comes to mind. A special emotional feeling triggering the heart and mind in a way that is unique to the event.

Every year I am reminded by these anniversaries of my Mom’s decline and death that November is coming. November, the “month of the dead,” during which we celebrate All Saint’s and All Souls’ Days, and during which we are encouraged to visit graves and cemeteries.

My favorite month, and I wonder if God planned for my Mom to die when she did. Oh, well, Im shall not know that until I am reunited with her in Heaven, and get answers.

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"

Bringing to Light all Things Hidden

In the Office of Readings for Tuesday, 34th Week of Ordinary Time we read an excerpt from “A treatise of St Augustine on St John’s gospel – You will come to the spring and see light itself”: “When, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ comes and, as the apostle Paul says, brings to light things hidden in darkness and makes plain the secrets of the heart, so that everyone may receive his commendation from God, then lamps will no longer be needed. When that day is at hand, the prophet will not be read to us, the book of the Apostle will not be opened, we shall not require the testimony of John, we shall have no need of the Gospel itself. Therefore all Scriptures will be taken away from us, those Scriptures which in the night of this world burned like lamps so that we might not remain in darkness. When all these things are removed as no longer necessary for our illumination, and when the men of God by whom they were ministered to us shall themselves together with us behold the true and dear light without such aids, what shall we see? With what shall our minds be nourished? What will give joy to our gaze? Where will that gladness come from, which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, which has not even been conceived by the heart of man? What shall we see? I implore you to love with me and, by believing, to run with me; let us long for our heavenly country, let us sigh for our heavenly home, let us truly feel that here we are strangers.”

(Via Universalis.)

We realize that once we arrive at our true home, Heaven, we will no longer have any need for aids to know God and any for intermediary means to discern His will. We will be with Him, in our true selves (minus our human frailties and flaws, for nothing imperfect can enter into Heaven) and see Him as He is. The One who is “I Am Who Am” will be present in us and around us.

Take heart from the exhortation near the end of the passage, about how we should yearn for our heavenly home and how we are strangers here on Earth.

In this time just before Advent, we prepare for Christ’s Coming. We should also prepare for our homeward journey. Being in one-on-one intimacy with the Lord of All Creation should be incentive enough to do whatever it takes to get there.

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"

Where was Mary assumed to?

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a Dogma of the Catholic Church that when Mary “died” she was taken up into Heaven, body and soul, due to her preservation from Original Sin and therefore not suffering the corruption of death. This is connected to the Dogma of her Immaculate Conception, which says that based on the anticipated merits of Jesus’ suffering and death, she did not inherit Original Sin, like everyone else.

These are required beliefs for Catholics and if you find them hard to take just consider meditating on them as ways of spiritual progression. Even if it takes the rest of your life, which would most likely be the case.

There is an excellent article entitled: Where was Mary assumed to? via New Theological Movement that offers up an interesting take on where exactly is Heaven? Read it and ponder!

The discovery of this article (I found it on Spirit Daily) also gives me the excuse to start the occasional and irregular series of posts on Catholic and Scriptural metaphysics. Wow.

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"

Purgatory

What happens when you die?

A lot of hopeful people assume that you go straight to Heaven. Hell is a fantasy to scare people into being good, and that God would never send anyone to Hell (This is true, God would never send anyone to Hell. But people send themselves to Hell by the choices they’ve made in life that have as their consequence the ultimate rejection of God.)

But since not everyone goes to Hell, do the rest go straight to Heaven? What about people who by the choices they’ve made are destined for Heaven, but have not fully repented for the sins they committed before converting? What about people who make “deathbed conversions”, is it fair that they enter into Heaven with sins not fully remitted through Earthly penance? What about us alcoholics and addicts who think that “Well, I did my Step 4* and Step 5**, that’s enough.” Since according to Ephesians 5:5: “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God,” (Via USCCB.) what about those who just fall short of perfection? Who dies perfect? We all die with stains on our soul and junk in our trunk. One small impurity and we’re banned from Heaven?

Well, there is hope for those of us that are not perfect. That hope is “Purgatory”

(Via New Advent.)

Purgatory is that place where we go where we are finally and completely purged of any attachment to selfish and sinful inclinations. I strongly recommend that you read that linked article from New Advent, it explains a lot and includes Scriptural passages supporting the idea, along with excellent human reasons for Purgatory’s existence, even if there was no Scriptural basis.

I envision Purgatory to be a place and a process. As a place, perhaps some domain outside of Heaven (“Heaven’s foyer”) in which we see the glory of God and the beauty of Heaven, but our sinful attachment to ourselves and to Earthly pleasure prevents us from entering. The pain we feel at this separation is our “purgation”. It is the process by which we are cleansed of all impurities so that we can finally enter into our true home.

This cleansing is a suffering, and if we accept and not reject the Earthly suffering that we experience, we can begin our purgatory now.

* and ** : Steps 4 and 5 for the unknowing are those of the 12 Steps of recovery programs in which the recovering addict does a “fearless and searching moral inventory” of their lives and then afterwards “admits to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

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 Four Last Things

There are four unalterable, unavoidable truths that every human must eventually face.

You will die.

You will be judged.

You will be received into Heaven or…

 … your life will condemn you to Hell.

Period. No wishful thinking will alter the above truths. They are expressly laid out in the Bible and they cannot be avoided.

“But I’m not Christian…” Yeah, so what. Non-Christian religions may have much truth in them and they may lead people to God, but only in Judeo-Christianity has God revealed Himself to us and wrote a roadmap to the afterlife and salvation in the Bible. You will be judged for what you are responsible for (more on that in a later post).

Anyway, my name is Paul, and I am an alcoholic who found sobriety from drink in the Twelve Steps of a recovery program but discovered sustained sobriety in the Catholic Church. In the course of my recovery, I thought more deeply than most other 12-Steppers of my acquaintance on the eternal verities. Death. Judgement. Heaven. Hell. The four unavoidables.

I’ve rarely heard these topics brought up in recovery meetings, except that some members presumed that they’ve already experienced Hell or went through Purgatory on Earth as a consequence of their drinking. I understood that as an expression of suffering, but I wondered about the real places , or whatever they are. That will be explored in this blog.

This won’t be your typical recovery blog, not that my primary blogging effort: Sober Catholic is normal, either. (At least by people who are used to straight up Twelve Step blogs.) This blog should also be of interest to people not in recovery but who are curious about the afterlife from a Catholic perspective. Just filter out any “Don’t drink” talk. 

Concerning not drinking, another reason why I am starting this blog is that one thing I’ve heard in 12 Step meetings is the basic conviction or feeling that once you’ve stopped drinking, that’s it. You’ve run the race and you’re “in”. That’s always bothered me. Just not drinking today isn’t enough. You may still sin (that is, offend God), and perhaps even mortally sin. There are whole other ways to screw up your life besides drinking. You may still do those. Hopefully this blog will make you aware of that and start thinking beyond “just not drinking.”  

I will try my best to present everything from a point-of-view that is Catholic, and authentically so. No pick-and-choose “cafeteria Catholic” here.

Hopefully, this will actually be fun, in a strange sort of way.  I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to to do this beyond musings and meditations on the four unavoidables and related things, using my own thinking and authentic Catholic teachings.  I have this image in my head of me going around and taking pictures of cemetery plots and using them as visual reminders. “Someday, this will be where you’ll be, or someplace quite like it.” 

I will discuss grief, a particular interest of mine. I will also talk about Purgatory, and yes, the Church still teaches that it exists. 
Anyway, take care and read on.

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"