Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Guide to Daily Prayer

By Friar Rex, Hermit
March 14, 2009

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Not a few people have come to me over the years asking me about "prayer and meditation." Though I am and always will be only a beginner in the school of prayer, I share my experience, strength and hope in the power of prayer and meditation--both of which I consider a form of "Divine Therapy", to coin a phrase used by Fr. Thomas Keating--in hopes that my fellow pilgrims can indeed improve their conscious contact with God and come to know Christ Who presides over us all.

Below you will find a copy of the hand-out I give folks when they come to see me. Nothing you will read is original with me. Indeed, "there is nothing new under the sun." What I share I learned from others. If what you read proves helpful to you on your journey, take it with you and to God be all the glory. If you find some or all of it less than helpful, leave it.

Pax et Bonum,
~ Friar Rex


A Guide to Daily Prayer

Preparation for Prayer

The purpose of prayer is:

1. To improve my conscious contact with God.

2. To enhance my usefulness to others.

3. To develop humility, making it possible for me to receive God's grace and guidance.

As I understand God, God is..... (Take a few moments to contemplate your developing understanding of God as you remain clean & sober one day at a time.)


Prayer In The Morning

1. Today I ask God to . . .

a.) . . . direct my thinking and actions, to especially divorce my thoughts and actions from motives of:

- Selfishness

- Self-seeking

- Self-pity

- Resentment

- Fear

- Dishonesty

b.) . . . clear my thinking of wrong motives that I may better know and do God’s will.

2. I Think about the 24 hours ahead:

a.) What will I DO?

b.) Who will I BE?

3. I Ask God to clarify my vision of God’s will for me today. How can I best serve God and my fellows?

4. When I feel indecisive: I ask God to give me an inspiration, an intuitive thought, or some other way of making God’s will clear to me. I ask God to help me relax and take it easy, to trust, to stop struggling, to "let go and let God."

5. I ask God for:

a.) (Knowledge) Show me all throughout the day the next right thing to do.

b.) (Power) Give me whatever I need to take care of tasks and problems.

c.) (Freedom) Free me from self-will.

d.) (Love) Show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and compassion.

e.) (Service) Allow me an opportunity to be useful and helpful to at least one other person.


Prayer Throughout The Day

I pray for knowledge of God's will and the power to carry it out.

1. I pause when agitated or doubtful and ask for the correct thought or action.

2. Many times during the day I humbly pray, "Thy will, not mine, be done."

3. I ask God what I can do for others, especially the person who still suffers from active addiction.


Prayer In The Evening

I identify and pray for the removal of character defects, internal obstacles which block God from acting in or through me.

1. I constructively review my day (without fear or favor).

a.) Was I:

- Resentful?

- Selfish?

- Dishonest?

- Afraid?

- _______?

- _______?

- _______?

b.) What motives were underneath my:

- Intentions?

- Thoughts?

- Acts?

- Efforts?

c.) Do I owe an apology?

d.) Have I kept something to myself that should be discussed with my sponsor or a trusted friend at once?

e.) Was I patient, tolerant, loving, kind, caring and compassionate toward all?

f.) What could I have done better?

g.) Was I thinking of myself most of the time?

h.) Or was I thinking of what I could do for others?

2. I ask God's forgiveness for those times when I failed to live according to God’s will.

3. I ask what corrective measures should be taken.

4. I thank God for blessings received.

5. I pray for the willingness to try again tomorrow!

Note: Matt Talbot practiced Step 11 decades before the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. (JB)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pioneer and Matt Talbot Group Annual Pilgrimage to Knock

July 19th 2009

Homily by Bishop Eamonn Walsh

No one could accuse Our Lady of being anti-alcohol. She launched Jesus’ Public life at the marriage feast of Cana. The deeper message of that gospel lies in the truth; every person or thing Jesus touches he changes for the better.

Fr. James Cullen S.J., founder of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in 1898, had that realisation of getting God to touch the hearts of people and change the way people address alcohol and the way they see those who damage themselves and others through it.

He was a creative thinker. He started by targeting those who were not struggling with alcohol rather than those in its grip. He tapped into the tried and tested spirituality of prayer, fasting and almsgiving; he realised that the heart opens through self-giving; it opens in a new and wider way when the self-giving is rooted and modelled on the total and loving self-giving as symbolised in the heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Heart represents the unconditional love of God for each and everyone. This is at the centre of the pioneer spirituality. It enables us to first of all see ourselves as loved by God and then see each other as sisters and brothers loved by God. It also enables us to see the man or woman knocked down by alcohol or strung out on drugs as our sister and brother. We can’t turn our backs or look away; we are prompted to reach out. The reaching out with our time, prayers and love is the almsgiving.

At the root of every exploitation, fraud, scandal, is the attitude of selfishness; everyone for themselves; failure to treat people as sisters and brothers equally loved by God. The core spirituality of the Pioneer Movement could serve as a value foundation stone for today’s challenges.

Reparation is a central part of the Pioneer prayer and fasting/self-sacrifice/abstinence. We know that the power to heal comes from God’s touch. Whatever he touches he enriches. The pioneer participates and co-operates in God’s healing touch through their self-sacrifice and self-denial. We offer the spiritual richness of self-sacrifice to be used in God’s own mysterious way. We offer it for those struggling with addiction, their families and all those whose lives are adversely affected. We offer them for those on their treatment journey and those who are slipping and struggling.

In praying for sensible use of alcohol, making sacrifices for those being damaged by alcohol and other drugs can only make us more understanding and willing to help make a difference. When we meet them on the street our attitude is changed. A smile or a word can re-awaken in people their long lost self-worth and respect.

Our reparation, penance for our own or the wrong-doings of others is not an appeasement of God; no, it is God’s chosen way of releasing his gratuitous love. In spoken and unspoken ways, we petition that our sacrifices may be the instruments of guiding his healing touch of those most in need.

At a human level our prayer and abstinence changes our mindset and spirit for the better.

Matt Talbot is our inspiration that no one must ever be written off as a hopeless case. Humiliation may have brought him to his senses but his prayer and fasting gave him the self-belief that together with God’s help no hill was too high to climb.

I congratulate the Pioneer Movement on their initiative in recent times and particularly for Temperance Sunday this year of inviting people to participate in a short term pledge. It, I believe, enhances the movement and makes its spirituality available to many more people.

The Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative continues to set up parish drug/alcohol awareness groups in the four provinces. I want to thank the various local pioneer groups who have worked alongside them. Together we can raise awareness and provide alternatives to the destructive use of drugs and alcohol.

We can campaign together, the stronger we are on the ground the greater part we can play in changing attitudes and promoting treatment and care for all affected directly and indirectly by misuse of drugs and alcohol.

You are 111 years on the go, we are only 11. But like a penny-farthing bicycle, you the big wheel, we the tiny one, we can journey and progress together as long as we are anchored in prayer and self-giving that reaches out to the most in need.

Alcohol has been a problem in post-Famine times, in Celtic Tiger times and post. It does not time out, it clings on like a barnacle.

In today’s Gospel when Jesus saw the crowd he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd and he began to teach them at length. We live in a drink culture that needs leadership. That leadership from government is hampered by its heavy dependence on revenue from its tax and excise duty on alcohol. That leadership from the Drinks industry is hampered by its financial vested interests. That leadership from sporting organisations is hampered by dependence on sponsorship. That leadership from media is hampered by its dependence on advertising. Financial neutrals like us may be the ones to provide leadership in a drinks culture in need of a good shepherd. Together we can play our part.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

An interview about the P.T.A.A.

One of the organizations that Matt Talbot belonged to in recovery was the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart based in Ireland.

In this 57 minute audio program of EWTN Live recorded on 06/24/09, the host, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., interviews Fr. Bernard McGuckian, S.J., who is the Spiritual Director of the PTAA. At 17:10 minutes into the program about PTAA history and current activities, Fr. McGuckian specifically mentions Matt Talbot and later mentions Sister Ignatia, who worked closely with Dr. Bob, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and is called the "Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous" by her biographer, Mary Darrah.

The link to download this program is el_06242009.mp3 Then left click on the link.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

There is a saint for every neurosis

10 Reasons Why Catholicism Is the Best Religion for the Mentally Ill

Therese J. Borchard


April 11, 2008

1. There is a saint for every neurosis.

You have a neurosis? We've got a saint! St. Joseph takes care of those prone to panic attacks while traveling. For twitching, Bartholomew the Apostle is your dude. Those roaming the house in their sleep can call on Dymphna. The Venerable Matt Talbot is "patron saint" to those struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. And, of course, St. Jude covers the hopeless causes.

The additional nine reasons can be found at Theresa's focus on the spiritual journey to mental health is one of the most read blogs at Beliefnet.

(For one of many sites that list patron saints for chronic and incurable illnesses, see

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Canonization is not a simple process


The Wichita Eagle

July 7, 2009

If Emil Kapaun becomes a saint of the Catholic Church, his canonization will work out according to a complex process.

Two people familiar with the process are the Rev. John Hotze, the judicial vicar of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, and Thomas J. Craughwell, who has written several books about sainthood.

Hotze recently accompanied an investigator for the Vatican who checked out two possible miracles in the Wichita area, in which families prayed to Kapaun to intercede with God on behalf of their sick or injured children.

Hotze said the Vatican looks for four things in medical cases:

* A medical diagnosis, such as a critical head injury.

* A turning point. After prayers to the proposed saint, the patient is better.

* An immediate or speedy recovery, seemingly not possible considering the critical diagnosis.

* Whether there is a scientific explanation for the survival and fast recovery.

If there is not a scientific explanation, the investigation keeps going. Eventually, Craughwell said, the case is turned over to Vatican doctors and other investigators, including cardinals, and finally the pope.

The church does not want to get these cases wrong, Craughwell said. "There is no way to 'unsaint' someone."

Pope John Paul II canonized nearly 1,000 saints, far more than his predecessors. But proving sainthood is not easy, Craughwell said.

For example, he said, one person proposed for sainthood is Matt Talbot (1826-1925), an Irish drunkard who stole a fiddle from a poor musician. Talbot reformed, and spent the last decades of his life going to Mass every day and trying to find the musician to make restitution.

Many alcoholics and drug addicts have adopted Talbot as their patron.

Though he is hugely popular among AA members and Irish people, the church has so far refused to canonize Talbot because they don't consider his sainthood proven.

"The church really tries to get it right," Craughwell said.