Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Called to Hope"

This is just one powerful example of a life-changing experience. "Don't give up hope before the miracle happens.
Transformed by His Word: Called to Hope
 by Terry P.*
The Word Among Us
January, 2014
“Three weeks without a drink: I was hanging on by my fingernails. I was on a long-planned vacation with friends and had come armed with literature from the Alcoholics Anonymous program I had joined. But I despaired of ever getting what the AA people had—a sure faith in their “Higher Power” that they could stay sober, one day at a time.

One Sunday at Mass, missalette in hand, I followed the first and second readings of the day. Then, as we stood to hear the Gospel, the Alleluia verse pierced my heart with an intensity that brought tears to my eyes: May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we might see how great is the hope to which we are called (Ephesians 1:17-18). I tore the page from the missalette and folded it into the palm of my hand, gripping it tightly, as if to assure my hanging onto the hope that St. Paul was talking about.

That mind-blowing verse called me to hope, yet I was not suddenly struck sober. In the days that followed, I continued to suffer and experience powerful cravings for a drink. But I didn’t give in. I wore out the torn missalette page that reminded me of the promise—a hope that I was incapable of fulfilling on my own. Over and over, I willed my unwilling self to answer God’s call and stay sober.

Hour by Hour. Between swimming and sunning on the beach, I read my AA books and went to an AA meeting in a building across the road from a bar and poolroom. I could hear the click of the pool balls and thought I could hear the drinks being poured as the AA speaker told us of the hope for a sober day that meetings gave him. 

A million times that week, especially when ordering bottled water while others ordered cocktails, I silently repeated the AA slogan: “The first drink gets you drunk.” With all my heart, I prayed that God would enlighten the eyes of my heart so that I would know the hope of new life in Christ.

When I got back home, I called out to the Lord more and more. Often I pounded on my desk at work, as I prayed for hope that God’s power would keep me from a drink for the next hour. Then, when the next hour came, I would pray, “Thank you for the last hour, Lord. Now you must give me your power in which I hope again.”

How Great a Hope! I got what I prayed for—the ability not to drink, the grace to be faithful to what I was learning in AA about changing the way I lived. 

The Gospel acclamation that God gave me during my vacation became my prayer in the toughest, darkest moments: “Lord, please open me to the hope that is mine as your daughter.” One day three months later, I realized that I had not thought of a drink for an entire morning, and I thanked God for the respite from the cravings.

The hope I had been offered was moving from my head to my heart. It opened me more to God’s power. It energized me to put one foot in front of the other, to count my blessings, and to thank the Lord for keeping me sober each day.

In that one moment at Mass, the Spirit grabbed my heart, opened my eyes, and showed me that I had the right to hope in God’s power to help me change. I know now that I can live as God wants me to live—happy, joyful, and free. One day at a time, I thank God.”

*A pseudonym has been used at the author’s request.

Note: We are grateful to the publisher for such articles as well as five that specifically mention Venerable Matt Talbot.