Category Archives: Twelve Steps

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"

Matt Talbot Way of Recovery

(Note: This is reposted from SoberCatholic.com) The launch of the “revived Catholic-based recovery network” is on! I actually started it last night, on the Vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is called the “Matt Talbot Way of Recovery.” Although Matt Talbot is widely associated with recovery from alcoholism, his way to sobriety can be applied to all addictions. His model of sobriety is a good, Catholic-based one that can serve as a framework and guide.

The Group is on Yahoo, I chose that rather than start a standalone website like a discussion forum or social network as it is easier. Past attempts at a Catholic-based recovery network have ended in failure for a number of reasons, this way of an email discussion list is less risky. If it proves to be very popular and successful, then perhaps sometime down the road a discussion forum-type of site can be done. I am not looking that far ahead.

Here is the link to click on to join:

Matt Talbot Way of Recovery

Here is some important information about the Group:

Once you submit a request to join, your request must be approved by a Moderator. So far, I am the only one. Please be patient, I should get back and approve your request within a day.

Afterwards this is the email address to post messages to the Site and Members: MattTalbotWayofRecovery@yahoogroups.com

You can also access messages and post new ones just by going to the Group’s web page at (in case the above link doesn’t work, copy-and-paste this: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/MattTalbotWayofRecovery/

These are the site’s settings(as of now, can be changed later):

Membership requires approval (probably not going to be changed. Need to keep out spammers and bigots)

Messages from new members require approval (I think once your first message or two is approved, you’re then unmoderated)

All members can post messages

Email attachments are distributed, not archived

Members cannot hide email address (therefore it is important that you have an email address that has a good spam filter, or one that is just devoted to online recovery work. This is to preserve anonymity, if that is important to you.

Listed in directory (again, see the email address suggestions in the previous point)

After you’re in, you can the determine how you wish to interact. As stated above, you can either post and reply to to messages either by way of email, or by going to the Groups web address. You can decide which way by the following settings:

MTWofRecoveryMessageDelivery

So, you can receive each email as it comes in, or just a digest of all emails for that day, or for that week. Or, just visit the website. You can visit the website anytime, even if you subscribe to emails. This is useful if you wish to search through the archive of past messages.

As far as I know, that is it! If I have forgotten anything, I’ll add it later. Jump in, join, and let’s have fun! 🙂

Back story: Revived Catholic-based recovery network possibly starting on Monday (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

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"

My interview on American Catholic Radio

Well, it’s out! Judy Zarick’s interview with me, scheduled for this week, is available here:

American Catholic Radio looks at Ash Wednesday, conversion and social justice

The program is called “Living Faith with Judy Zarick.”

(Via Franciscan Media.)

All in all, the editing was great. It is a 5 minute distillation of a 20-25 minute-long interview.

(The only issue is that although the physical link to my blog is correct, at the end she spoke the old Blogger link. No matter, it just gives me a greater reason to edit the old site so that it is clear it is the defunct version.)

Anyway, click on the link above and give a listen!

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"

Departures from our lives

Yesterday (June 26th) was the fourth anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death. I never knew her as I met my wife in 2007, but through my wife she has had some impact on me. I would have loved her greatly.

The nature of this blog indicates that I think of death quite a lot. It has impacted me in a number of ways in my adulthood, and has formed me into the person that I am now. Almost as much as sobriety has.

We have people in our lives. And then they are gone. Whether they are taken from us by death, or merely drift away by relocation or choices, people are with us until they are no more.

I think that each departure is a subtly traumatic event in our lives. Each departure leaves a hole or a tear in our lives that may never be healed. Sometimes we are not aware that they should be healed, as in when somebody moves away or just drifts off. But these people were a part of the fabric of our lives, and were woven into the tapestry of our life. They go away, that tapestry is torn.

I think we all too casually feel we should just “move on” when someone goes away. I learned of this when my Mom died in 2005 and I went through grief counseling. My old AA sponsor suggested it, and I never knew such a thing existed for “ordinary” deaths. I thought it was just for extraordinary deaths like school shootings, natural disasters, terror attacks and major accidents like train wrecks and airliner crashes. But no, one can also attend when it’s only when your Mom dies.

Perhaps we take for granted the people in our lives. Maybe we don’t feel that they will “go away” or somehow it won’t hurt. We rarely think of such traumatic change. Too painful.

I yearn for Heaven. Not in any suicidal way, but just so I can be reunited with the people I’ve loved and lost, and people I’ve never met but would be important to me anyway. And also because there would never be any parting. No one dies and no one moves away. We will be together forever.

There is in the 12 Step movements something called “Step 9”, which is the step where you make amends to people in your life that you’ve hurt because of your addiction. It’s an attempt to reconcile and to clear the air. Perhaps there won’t be a reconciliation, but at least the attempt was made. There is the possibility that people previously gone will be back.

Don’t underestimate the joy that may bring. There is too much loss in today’s world.

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"