The stark realization that it could all end

I think that one reason why we feel pain when someone dies, be it person or pet, is that the pain of the loss connects us to the reality that there is more to life than just the “here and now.” Someone was here, is now gone, and we can’t just visit them or email or connect with them online. No phone calling. They’re gone. There may be “something more,” and at a level that differs amongst all of us dependent upon the depth of our spirituality and religiosity. And if you don’t believe in an afterlife, then oblivion awaits and that scares you. The result from either belief is numbing and expressed through sorrow over the loss. For believers, we long to cross that chasm because we just know that the “something more” is better than the “here and now.”

The stark realization that it could all end….

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 sucks.

Death sucks.

Someone, be they a human person or an animal person, is in your life for years, then they’re not. And it’s not like they moved to some far off strange place like California, where you can still email, Skype or Facebook with them. The distance they travelled is measured not in miles or kilometers. But in time.

It’s a wide chasm. We may take a few more years or decades to get to the point where we can cross it. That is a part of the chasm separating those on the other side from us. But forgetting the amount of time between now and when we die, that chasm is just huge. They’re in eternity. We’re not.

But there’s a hole left behind. That space in your life that they filled is now empty. They are no longer there. That space can’t be filled by anyone else.

This post was caused by the death of our cat, “Mr. Onyx,” whom I nicknamed “SpeedBump.” He died this morning. He’s the black kitteh in the picture. The cutie on the right is his girlfriend, Jerrie. Nice headshot of him is right after.

544667_3854786851638_1870062027_n

1480668_10203191356327747_2105585139_n

 

I nicknamed Mr. Onyx, “SpeedBump,” after his penchant for laying right between wherever anyone was sitting and wherever a doorway is, as well as slowly walking down the hallway before you.

We don’t know how old he was as we didn’t get him as a kitten. His previous human died from cancer and untreated alcoholism and we took him in as no one else could.

He lived with my wife and I for almost exactly 6 years.

He is survived by two other kittehs, Jerrie and Ninja.

He had an amazing impact on our lives, bringing much joy, love and FUN into them.

We will bury him in a Mary Garden, next to our house, and we’ll plant stuff around him that would attract the birds and bunnies he so loved to watch from the patio window.

Where are our beloved pets, after their death? That is for another post. But Mr. Onyx’s death is really hitting me. The death of a pet in not inconsequential.

Pets matter.

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 Phrase “Good-bye”…

…does not exist in any language spoken in Heaven.

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"

Praying for the Dead During November

Catholic Culture has an excellent article regarding a very beneficial pious activity that can aid in your own spiritual progression. It also is a good reminder of where we’ll end up someday. (A grave. Morbid, true, but you wouldn’t be here unless you’re more aware than most people that you will die someday.)

Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November is something I blog about here annually. It is about the act of visiting a cemetery during the first 8 days of November. Half of the “Graves and Cemeteries” category are reblogs of it and this will probably be the last time I’ll post on it (at least on its own). The article is now a standalone link in the “Afterlife Links” section.

To summarize from the “Catholic Culture” site:Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls: A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest  is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:

 ‘Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.'”

The article explains the differences between plenary and partial indulgences.

November 2nd is on a Saturday this year, and so it makes a good day to combine Mass, the Sacrament of Confession and this devotion. On Saturday you can obtain a plenary indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory using the practice described above; and an additional plenary one for yourself if you make a good Confession and attend Mass. The latter is the most common manner in obtaining a plenary indulgence. Go to Confession on Saturday afternoon, which is when most parishes offer it, and then stick around for the Sunday Vigil Mass.

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"

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:

The Four Last Things on Facebook and The Four Last Things on Google+.

So please “Like” or “Circle” them if you wish to see everything!

Thank you.

 

 

 

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"

Your Digital Afterlife: A book about digital death and legacy

I am currently reading the book Your Digital Afterlife: A book about digital death and legacy. It is something I hadn’t bothered thinking too much of in the past, having considered my so-called “digital legacy” to be a frivolous worry. After all, I don’t use online services that much to store digital images and such, and don’t regard Facebook postings as something worth being concerned about after I die. It isn’t as if there will ever be a bestselling “The Collected Facebook Posts and Likes of (Enter a Name Here).”

However, the book does indicate in a very systematic, methodical and thoughtful manner the importance of our online lives, and how interconnected we all are, and that our online activities are indeed worth considering when we plan our Wills and Estates.

Basically, the book is about “What happens to our online stuff when we die?” And, “Where is it all, and who controls and has access to it?” The explorations and answers are eye-opening and worth checking out.

You can order the book through the link in the first sentence. Also, the authors have a website set up to provide ongoing news and information about digital legacies. It is here:

The Digital Beyond | Insight about your digital death and afterlife

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"

On this date in 1995 my father died

Feeling a little more melancholic than usual, perhaps as this is the 18th anniversary of my Father’s death. So, a repost.

NOTE: This is reposted from an earlier date:

On this date in 1995 my father died.

He and I weren’t very close, (“fathers and sons …”) generational and attitudinal differences separated us.

As a result, I didn’t really grieve over his death. I mean, I was saddened and did feel the loss, but I wasn’t ripped apart by his death like I was over my Mom’s 10 years later.

This relative lack of impact was aided by the fact that I was 2,500 miles away and hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

I went home for his funeral, and reconnected with the family, but when I returned home to California I continued life as usual. I had started drinking heavily to cope with life’s problems a year before (failed romance) and my drinking picked up a little more upon my return, so that may have softened the need to grieve in a sober manner.

The point of this is that although I wasn’t too close to Dad during his life, I am much closer to him now. That would seem strange to non-Catholics, but for believers with a knowledge of the Communion of Saints, that shouldn’t seem strange at all.

Death doesn’t end a life. Death is just a passage from this life to another. This life is temporary, everything “is”, and then passes away to dust and a dim memory. The life after is eternal. Whether that life is spent in Heaven or Hell depends on what you do in your Earthly life.

There is a connection between those of us still here on Earth and those deceased. It is called, as I referenced in a previous paragraph, the Communion of Saints . (Via New Advent.) This is comprised of the “Church Militant” (those still on Earth), the “Church Suffering” (those in Purgatory) and the “Church Triumphant” (those in Heaven). Only the souls that have damned themselves to Hell are excluded.

“Communion” implies a community, wherein the members still can relate to one another. This relation is conducted by the means of prayer. We pray to the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering for their intercessory power with God. We can somehow sense their presence (although admittedly that “sensing” may be wishful thinking).

They are there to help, comfort and console us. We are separated from them by the chasm of death, but that chasm can be crossed eventually by our own deathly passage.

I said earlier in this post that I am much closer to Dad now than while he was alive. I have grown to be much like him, at least with regard to the practice of my Catholic Faith. (I still haven’t taken up woodworking as a hobby, nor returned to fishing as a pastime, but may in time. I do enjoy yardwork, like he did, and love baseball, too.) I understand him better as the years progress and as I grow older.

To anyone who has lost a parent (or anyone beloved) to death, fear not. They are not gone from you permanently. Consider them as just having moved far away, and the distance you need to travel to meet with them again will take the rest of your life.

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 and Acceptance

I attended an AA meeting today for the first time in who knows how long. I had intended to go to Confession, but I ran into the priest and he told me that it was cancelled for today. Some diocesan shindig. I knew the parish hosted an AA meeting at the same time and so I figured, “What the heck? I’ll check it out.”

The topic was death and acceptance.

I didn’t share as I’m usually reticent about doing so. Fear of speaking at AA meetings go ‘way back. I do when I can offer something. I should have today, but was nervous as I had never been to this meeting before.

What I would have said, had I bothered to was something like this:

“Taking death and acceptance, and putting it into our recovery, all I can say is that we’ve already died once. Our old practicing alcoholic selves died when we entered the program and achieved a lasting sobriety. We’ve been reborn, in a way, when we got that sobriety and learned a bit about the Steps.

I think the book “Daily Reflections” has a reading from (I think June) which says something about how we alcoholics are fortunate to have lived two lifetimes in one life. There’s the life we lived as drunks, and now our new one as sober alcoholics.

All we have to do is “keep our side of the street clean” against the eventuality of our own death.”

Not bad. But it was enough to conquer the fear of attending a meeting for the first time, much less expecting me to talk. What I said was hinted at anyway by some other speakers, so really no big deal.

Maybe next time.

 

 

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"

Heaven is…

… like an eternal summer vacation.

I write that as my wife and I have been host to a dear friend of ours for the past several weeks. She is leaving to go back home in a few days, and I have been looking at pictures my wife and I took and posted to Facebook that were taken during various trips about the area we live. It got me thinking (as is usual) about the peace and joy of Heaven and how once there, we will never be separated from those we love.

It is like a vacation that never ends, where we do not have to return to the drudgery and toil of “real life.”

{{{sigh}}}

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"

Reader help (no longer) needed to support Sober Catholic (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Thanks to a few readers and friends, I have received enough in donations to renew the hosting account, as well as the domain names, for three years. I am very grateful to them that they think enough of this work. So, the Sober Catholic bleg drive is over. If you were thinking of donating, but hadn’t yet, please consider some other worthy blogging endeavor, or contribute to your parish. Perhaps your parish has a website? Maybe they could use financial help with their hosting fees.

I am asking for help from readers. The various fees associated with running and maintaining this blog are due for renewal in a month, namely for web hosting and domain name registration, and I need your assistance as we cannot afford to pay them…

Bloggers sometimes bleg (“bleg” means “blog beg”) when money is needed. It could be for any reason. My wife and I have incomes, live frugally, make do with what we have and are grateful for them, but we have had some financial hits recently and the cost of renewing Sober Catholic is coming at a bad time.

So, if you appreciate the work behind this blog, the PayPal “donate” button is way over in the upper left hand corner of the blog, where it says, “Please consider donating, if you like this work.” It’s between the blog title and the “Follow me on Twitter” widget. Nearly $300 is needed (if we were to renew for the most “cost effective” term of 3 years.) Any amount donated in your one-time gift would be appreciated. If you don’t like to use PayPal, you can email me at sobercatholic at gmail dot com to obtain other contact info (or use any method in the How to find and contact me Page.) Prayers are, of course, also appreciated!

We have explored other hosting options, there are none really cheaper. In anticipating a probable common reaction, “Why don’t you just move to a free host?” That is an option of last resort, and one that I am unwilling to do for several reasons:

1) Traffic and readership would be lost. Sober Catholic was originally hosted for free, and when I went to a paid hosting service many people did not follow along, despite numerous notices left up at the old site. Also, links everywhere point to this location.

2) Paying for a host rather than going free establishes “brand name” credibility if your blog is about a service. If I only had a personal blog about my own joys and sorrows, thoughts and opinions, that would be free. But I feel that Sober Catholic deserves its own location. I don’t feel that Sober Catholic is completely mine, it also belongs to those who appreciate it and have been helped by it. I do have 2 other blogs hosted on this account, but Sober Catholic is the only reason the account exists.

3) Having its own location guarantees independence; one isn’t subject to the whims and decisions of a free host. There is greater control over what one can do if the hosting is paid for by the owner or from revenue that is generated.

As I said above, any help to defray or cover the cost is greatly appreciated. Every donation adds to the total.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Paul Sofranko (a/k/a “paulcoholic”)

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"