Category Archives: November

Getting ready for November

November is due to arrive at the end of the week, and that is an important month for myself and this blog. The Solemnity of All Saints on the 1st and the Feast of All Souls on the 2nd are two of my favorite days on the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Not to mention that my Mom died in 2005 on the 7th. I noticed that 8 years ago, today, she was transferred from the ICU to a private room at the hospital from where she died.

And so I will attempt to write more on death, dying and the devotions regarding such things like I usually try to do. Most of the material that is not original to me (such as links from Spirit Daily, New Advent and other people’s blogs) may actually be posted to the social network Pages this blog has. Links to them are here:

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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"

Are You Prepared to Die?

As I said in my first ever blogpost here on The Four Last Things you will die.

An article from last year (that for some reason I didn’t blog about then) asks us this: Are You Prepared to Die?

(Via Archdiocese of Washington Blog.)

Well, are you? The reality of death is something many people avoid until it confronts them full on. And even then, some people attempt to shun it.

The inconvenient truth is that we are better prepared to face death when we do not wait to prepare ourselves for it when we are facing it.

The article gives some sobering consideration on preparing for 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"

November 2011

It’s that time of the year, FourLastThingers! NOVEMBER!!!!!! My favorite time of the year. Others can have their Aprils and the Spring showers and flowers and others their July vacations and Summer trips, me, I go for the Month of the Dead. (November is my favorite month, Lent is my favorite season.)

And so, during this second-busiest time of the year here at The Four Last Things, I would just like to point out that if you were to go to the Categories over there in the right sidebar, clicking on “November” would bring you a wealth of past articles dealing with various Catholic topics such as Purgatory and death. (We all die someday, a reminder of that is why I began this death blog in the first place.)

As long as we’re on the subject of death and dying, there is one article I’d like to point out, it concerns an old devotion within the Church involving visiting a cemetery in early November:

Devotion for visiting a cemetery and a Church

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 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"

Walk onwards home

This morning’s Office of Readings for Saturday, 34th Week on Ordinary Time has a sermon by Saint Augustine which I take the following excerpt: “Let us sing Alleluia to God, who is good and frees us from evil”: “O! what a happy alleluia there, how carefree, how safe from all opposition, where nobody will be an enemy, where no-one will ever cease to be a friend! God’s praises sung there, sung here – here, by the anxious; there, by the carefree – here, by those who will die; there, by those who will live for ever – here, in hope; there, in reality – here, on our journey; there, in our homeland.

So now, my brethren, let us sing, not to delight our leisure, but to ease our toil. In the way that travellers are in the habit of singing, sing, but keep on walking. What does it mean, ‘keep on walking’? Go onward always – but go onward in goodness, for there are, according to the Apostle, some people who go ever onward from bad to worse. If you are going onward, you are walking; but always go onward in goodness, onward in the right faith, onward in good habits and behaviour. Sing, and walk onwards. “

(Via Universalis.)

The first few paragraphs deal with the toil of living on Earth and the necessity of tolerating the fears and anxieties that fill our lives. We cannot avoid them, in fact we pray daily the “Our Father” to help us cope with them. But St. Augustine exhorts us to put up with this life, for there is a better one to come. And then came the section I excerpted above.

Lovely words which should give us the strength and fortitude needed to keep us going, to keep us on the right path, so that eventually we will arrive home, the place where there is no sorrow or suffering, where we are never parted from our loved ones.

Think about that. This desire for Heaven is an excellent manner to rid ourselves of our tendency to sin. While we still will sin, we at least will have a better purpose of amending our lives to increase its holiness. The desire for Heaven can cause us to be detached from this Earth and its “pleasures.” The delayed gratification and satisfaction of Heaven may cause us to not seek the immediate gratification of our sinful (and addictive) actions.

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"

Shutting out the fear of Death

An excerpt from “The treatise of St Cyprian on mortality, ‘Let us shut out the fear of death and meditate upon immortality'” contained in the Office of Readings for Friday, 34th Week of Ordinary Time: has encouraging words for those who long for Heaven: “We ought never to forget, beloved, that we have renounced the world. We are living here now as aliens and only for a time. When the day of our homecoming puts an end to our exile, frees us from the bonds of the world, and restores us to paradise and to a kingdom, we should welcome it. What man, stationed in a foreign land, would not want to return to his own country as soon as possible? Well, we look upon paradise as our country, and a great crowd of our loved ones awaits us there, a countless throng of parents, brothers and children longs for us to join them. Assured though they are of their own salvation, they are still concerned about ours. What joy both for them and for us to see one another and embrace! O the delight of that heavenly kingdom where there is no fear of death! O the supreme and endless bliss of everlasting life!

There, is the glorious band of apostles, there the exultant assembly of prophets, there the innumerable host of martyrs, crowned for their glorious victory in combat and in death. There in triumph are the virgins who subdued their passions by the strength of continence. There the merciful are rewarded, those who fulfilled the demands of justice by providing for the poor. In obedience to the Lord’s command, they turned their earthly patrimony into heavenly treasure. My dear brothers, let all our longing be to join them as soon as we may. May God see our desire, may Christ see this resolve that springs from faith, for he will give the rewards of his love more abundantly to those who have longed for him more fervently.”

(Via Universalis.)

These are excellent words to meditate upon, for we should not have a fear of death. After all, it is just a passage through which we leave our Earthly exile and go home.

If desire for God and holiness can be turned into a prayer, then we can make one out of some of St. Cyprian’s words:

Oh, Heavenly Father, we beseech You with the groanings of our heart the longing we have for our true home with You. May Christ our Mediator see our resolve to finish the journey and “increase our faith.”(Luke 17:5) so that we may enter into your eternal Kingdom and see You and all the Saints in Heaven, together with our loved ones who have gone before us.

We ask you this in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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"

November 7th: a Death and a Rebirth, Part 2

Earlier today I wrote Part 1 of this post.

This “rebirth” part is difficult to write, as the birth pangs were years-long, torturous and the result (which is still developing, in a way) was inconceivable at the beginning.

The rebirth was in essence that of a “new me” slowly being born. Not in the born-again context of Evangelical Christians but in that a large part of me died when Mom did, and out of the ashes of that life a new person arose.

The symbolism of this was apparent when I went through grief counseling and I discovered major parallels between that and alcohol recovery work. Just as I am being reborn during my recovery from alcoholism, so I was experiencing a rebirth in trying to establish a “new normal” without Mom around.

The “new normal” is a term in grief work which means that you have to establish a new rhythm to your life without the deceased in it. The dead person was a part of your life, and that person is no longer in it in a physical manner. A part of you is now missing and somehow you have to account for the missing piece. How will you go on living now? What will pass for “normal?” What will the new “ordinary life” look like and how will you get there?

It wasn’t easy. I had wanted to die. I felt that my mission in life was over now that Mom was gone. I didn’t consider myself particularly good at anything and so I thought I existed to care for Mom when she got old. I prayed for death. Not in a suicidal wish, just that God would take me home.

The Lord had other plans. He stomped on me and put the crushed me through a wine press. The fermentation process took a few years and various people came and went while seeing me through it.

And “through it” was key. You have to go through grief, work through it for if you avoid or defer it you will suffer greatly later on. Much like a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t completely clean up their past or face resentments. You refuse to deal with things, then they will deal with you.

And I trudged on, through the grief and the soul-scorching aloneness I felt.

As I said three paragraphs ago, various people came and went through my initial period of griefwork. All served a purpose and I was grateful to them. But stability was not a crowning achievement of my life in those days. I felt as if I was living in quicksand.

More, later today or early tomorrow in Part 3.

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"

Fire and other things on Purgatory

A heads up to readers:

Is there fire in purgatory? is a question asked by bloggers at
The New Theological Movement.

The question concerns the nature of Purgatory, and obviously whether is fire present as the means of purification in a material sense (real fire) or a spiritual sense (the longing for Heaven is a fire-like pain).

Towards the end of the post the blogger lets us know that there will be additional posts on Purgatory throughout the month of November.

Looks as if November is a popular month over there, as well as here. 🙂

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 pain of waiting for Heaven

Our true home is Heaven. Our life on Earth is an exile, the time we spend here prepares us for our arrival home. If we misuse this time to an extreme (consistently rejecting the will of God and working against Him) we will banish ourselves and be eternally damned. Damnation is the natural consequence of our poor moral choices on Earth.

However, even if we exercise right judgement, we may still be denied entry into the fullness of Heaven and perfect union with God for a time. This time is referred to as Purgatory. Those who die in a state of grace but yet still retain the stain of sin on their souls need to be purified. The unclean cannot enter into the vision of God in this state. See: Catechism of the Catholic Church – Purgatory

(Via Vatican.)

We can begin our purgatory here on Earth. A longing for our true home and the pain of separation from it is a purifying experience. This longing is a prayer.

The blog The New Theological Movement has a great post entitled “Prayer, purgatory on earth”. It explores the idea that through a prayerful longing for Heaven, we can offer up this suffering for the expiation of our sins and for the Church Suffering.

This prayerful longing for Heaven is a detachment from our exile, and therefore a little death. Gradually we are better prepared for our own death and no longer fear it.

Personally, I feel this longing. Daily I pray for this “going home,” and not in any worrying suicidal way, but just like anyone who wishes to be home, I would rather be there than here.

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"