Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Pioneer Way of Faith and Prayer

Although there is some duplication, it may be beneficial for the reader to first read "The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association" post of January 2, 2008, before reading this one. (JB)


The strength of the Pioneer movement has always been its way of faith and prayer. This is what has marked us out from other temperance organizations and has given our association its identity. The essence of this way of faith will be found in the story of our origins. The first Central Director, Father James Cullen (1841-1921) wanted to address the widespread abuse of alcohol in the Ireland of his day, together with all the personal and social consequences that always flow from such abuse. He was convinced that only a radically religious solution would go to the heart of the problem. Like the evil spirit in the gospel tradition, it would be driven out only by prayer and fasting (Mk 9:29). So Father Cullen with his four like-minded associates, Mrs M.L. Bury, Mrs A Egan, Miss L. Power and Mrs A.M. Sullivan, who were already non-drinkers, formalized their abstinence in a union of sacrifice and prayer for the sake of others. They took on themselves a threefold commitment:


(1) To pray for the conversion of excessive drinkers;
(2) To make this prayer concrete in the offering to God of total abstinence for life;
(3) To make it public and an encouragement for others by openly wearing the pin.


The above story of the origins of the P.T.A.A. highlights, in a brief manner, first of all, how our abstinence is for others as well as for ourselves - indeed often more for others than for ourselves. For us total abstinence is not anti-drink as such. It arises out of a deep compassion for those caught on the treadmill of intemperance, and the way we help is primarily by the spiritual power of prayer and sacrifice. Few of us have gone untouched or unscathed by the problems of excessive drinking, either personally or among relatives and friends. If there is one common feature to this experience, both yesterday and today, it is the feeling of helplessness among relatives and friends which has brought countless people to turn to a spiritual movement in order to help those who cannot help themselves.


Though the primary inspiration of the Pioneer Movement is founded on the personal and spiritual level just described, Pioneers feel that they are focussing on an issue which lies at the centre of a network of evil and unhappiness, which spreads its tentacles through society as a whole.
When you have listed things like violence in the home and in the streets, substance abuse, sexual abuse, the carnage on our roads, absenteeism with its impact on the economy and unemployment, you have touched on some of the most glaring ills of modern life, all of which are related in varying degrees to the abuse of alcoholic drink. Consequently, Pioneers feel that by their concern for temperance they are close to the heart of the problems of modern life, and by their prayer and sacrifice they are making an important contribution to the health and happiness of their fellow human beings.


Nevertheless, the message of the Pioneer to the world at large is not the abolition of drink but moderation in its use. Total abstinence is the personal choice of the Pioneers for themselves, for the reasons described above. But, for society generally, the message is temperance in the sense of moderation and seld-control in all things. Total abstinence is a means for some only, Temperance is the goal for all.


The dominant inspiration of this way of life in our Movement has always been devotion to the Heart of Christ. We realize that in some circumstances today this devotion is not always as readily understood as it once was. At the same time, from the responses to the recent questionaire and from our discussions in the course of our review of the Pioneer way, it is clear that this devotion remains important for most Pioneers, particularly in Ireland. Devotion to the Heart of Christ, as understood among Pioneers, is basically simply a way of speaking of devotion to the person of Christ and to his individual love for each of us. Where people have difficulties about the devotion, it should not stand in the way of their becoming members of the Association, once they are prepared to undertake the three basic obligations of membership, inspired by love for Christ.

..... Taken from "TOWARD A SECOND CENTURY"


Rules of the PTAA


Members of the Pioneer Association have three rules which must be observed daily. These three rules are stated in the Pioneer prayer, The Heroic Offering.


* "To give good example" - To wear a pioneer pin.
* "To practise self-denial" - To refrain from drinking alcoholic substances.
* "To make reparation to Thee" - To say the Pioneer Prayer.

Venerable Matt Talbot 12 Promises of the Sacret Heart


matttalbot
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be there secure refuge during life, and above all in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart shall be exposed and honoured.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
12. I promise to you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die outside My grace nor without receiving their sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.



A Pioneer is a committed catholic, remaining faithful to the teachings of the church and dedicated to living out the message of the Gospel in their daily lives. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus helps us to develop our relationship with and understanding of God, to become better Christians and to enable us to reach our final destination: Heaven.


Based on the teachings of Jesus, the Association focuses on prayer and sacrifice, along with practical acts of charity, as a most effective means of helping addicts escape from their slavery to alcohol and drugs. There are many ways of dealing with these problems but our conviction and belief lies in the Power and Grace of God, assisted by our efforts, to help people with addictions to transform their lives.


Spiritual Aspects of PTAA


The strength of the PTAA has always been its way of faith and prayer. The essence of this way of faith will be found in the story of our origins. Fr. Cullen wanted to address the widespread abuse of alcohol in the Ireland of his day, together with the personal and social consequences that always flow from such abuse. Fr. Cullen and his four associates, who were already non-drinkers, formalized their abstinence in a union of sacrifice and prayer for the sake of others. Our abstinence is not anti-drink, but arises out of compassion for those caught on the treadmill of intemperance, and the way we help them is primarily by the spiritual power of prayer and sacrifice. We have all been left touched by the problems of excessive drinking - either personally or among relatives or friends. If there is one common feature to this experience, it is the feeling of helplessness among relatives and friends which has brought countless people to turn to a spiritual movement in order to help those who cannot help themselves.


The dominant inspiration of the Pioneers' way of life has always been devotion to the Heart of Christ. We realize that, in some circumstances today, this devotion is not always as readily understood as it once was, but according to a questionnaire from 1992, it is clear that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ remains important for most Pioneers. Devotion to the Heart of Christ, as understood among Pioneers, is simply a way of speaking of devotion to the person of Christ and of his individual love for each of us. Where people have difficulties about this devotion, it should not stand in the way of their becoming members of the Association, once they are prepared to undertake the three basic obligations of membership, inspired by love for Christ. The special way of faith which emerged from the meeting in Dublin in 1898 was summed up by Fr. Cullen in the Pioneer prayer - the Heroic Offering.


Pledged for Life, by Fr. Bernard J. McGuckian, SJ, aims at deepening faith and nourishing devotion and is recommended to every Pioneer for personal use. This book outlines the history of the PTAA, presenting it in the context of Sacred Heart devotion, as well as offering a collection of scriptural quotations, reflections, Pioneer teachings and prayers. It also includes texts for Masses, prayer services and formulae for the initiation of members, renewal of commitment and celebration of jubilees, which should prove helpful when organizing Pioneer events.


The Spiritual Director has normally been a priest or religious, male or female, but the Association acknowledges that, in the future, there will be an increasing number of lay people suited for this task. Spiritual Directors should make it their aim to ensure that the Centre remains true to the spiritual goals of the Association, and not got the way of a purely secular temperance movement. They should keep before the members the high ideals of the movement as expressed in the Offering Prayer composed and handed on by the first Central Director, Fr. James Cullen. The Association is conscious that the support and encouragement of good Bishops and priests is the cornerstone of all our endeavors as Pioneers.


Pioneers feel that, by their concern for temperance, they are close to the heart of the problems of modern life, and by their prayer and sacrifice they are making an important contribution to the health and happiness of their fellow human beings.

.... taken from Pioneer Information Package.