Sunday, June 25, 2017

Relapse Toolbox for Catholic Alcoholics

"FYI. This is what happens when we relapse: another DUI, divorce filing from our spouse, living alone in an apartment away from our children, losing trust with home group friends, interlock device in our cars, more therapy, more medicine, more white chips, more disappointed faces of loved ones, more pain for everybody—least of all ourselves. But ourselves is all we think about when we’re in the midst of it all.  Not worth the buzz, I promise.

I’m gathering my Catholic tools to make another go at it. Yes, another. It’s worth it, I know. You know how I know? You know how I know it’s worth it?

I’ve had it. I had sobriety. I touched it, lived it, experienced it, loved it. I relished it, appreciated it, was grateful for it, humbled by it, in awe of it. Witnessed the dynamics-change within my family. Then, I took it for granted and lost it.

I have my reasons/excuses. But are there really any valid reasons for giving up the gift of sobriety? Not this gift. This gift is precious, priceless. Special. Something non-alcoholics will never understand. The gift of sobriety in the life of a true blood alcoholic is priceless.
It truly must be ONE. DAY. AT. A. TIME. A cliché I’ve always disliked because I am an enthusiastic dreamer of future dreams. 

Entrepreneur. Optimist. An “anything is possible” person. But I’ve met my match. The liar of lies finds our weaknesses and beats us down. That’s when God’s gift of humility can open our eyes to new lives.
Here’s to a(nother) new life, friends.

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All of my Catholic alcoholic tools to embark back on the path of sobriety are rooted in the love of Christ and Christ’s special love of sinners:

Rosary: I was broke but paid $100 for this Rosary because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, it was handmade by a local very elderly woman who carefully chose each bead and prayed as she made it.

Matt Talbot medal: Venerable Matt Talbot, still in waiting for official sainthood. Patron of alcoholics. He’s been there with us in the fight.

Brown scapular: my sister gave me this after my first relapse and I wore it for two months. Now it hangs from my rear view mirror in my car. I never asked her if she wanted it back. I know that was selfish of me but it is so beautiful to me because it’s worn and not brand-new looking.

Prayer card to Saint Jude, patron saint of impossible causes: None other than the alcoholic can understand the utter impossibleness of recovery.

Prayer card of Saint Mary Magdalen: I think that Mary Magdalen isn’t the Mary who was saved from adultery or the demons or at the well…but I still think of her this way when I ask her to intercede for me with her Lord. I believe Mary Magdalen is actually the one at the feet of Jesus listening to him talk while her sister Martha is doing the dishes. That would totally be me lol. If any of y’all smarter than me can educate me on the real Mary Magdalen please do?

White chip: my Aa white chip. Seriously. I KNOW recovery is possible without AA. But not for me. I need AA. And I need daily AA. Not trying to offend any Catholic purists out there. Just speaking my own truth here.

Sacred Heart badge: the ORIGINAL white chip, sister Ignatia (friends with  Bill W and Doctor Bob) would give this sacred heart badge to each alcoholic who left the hospital after detox and told them they must return it to her if they drank again.

My one-year medallion– one of my most prized possessions. I picked this up on September 18, 2007 in the presence of my mother and my five sisters who flew into town for the occasion.

“Lord what do you want me to do with my life?” prayer card: One of my most favorite Irish priests, father Brian Higgins, was head of seminarians in the early 2000’s here in Atlanta. He was also a priest at my parish. He gave the best and most convicted pro-life sermon I'd ever heard. He gave these prayer cards out and I kept two. Over ten years ago but it’s always been in my fridge since. Great question to ask myself each morning right?

Saint Michael the Archangel prayer card: i also  have his medal on my key chain. who better to fight for us than the angel who fought satan himself. Defend us in battle against this disease.

Our Lady of Knots: i like this title of Mary, the untier of knots. She calls on her son for us to untie the knots in our hearts and minds that keep us from coming into closer relationship with Him.
If you happen to come across this post out there, then add your own tools that help you in your recovery path!"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Viewing Addiction and Recovery as a Gift

Understanding Addiction

The Christophers’ Vice President, Mary Ellen Robinson, recalls a powerful sermon she heard a number of years ago at a healing Mass for alcoholics, drug addicts, and their families and friends.  Delivered by a Carmelite priest, his words will stick with her forever.

The priest said, “All of you that are sitting here today who suffer from addiction, look at it as a gift - then turn your addiction into an opportunity to help others.  There comes a time when an addict can be close to death and another addict who is in recovery has the gift of breathing life into that human being.  That is a gift in itself.” 
Having witnessed addiction among family and friends, Mary Ellen is one of the 130 million people in the United States affected by this disease.  She explains, “It’s something that rips to the heart of everyone connected to the person suffering from addiction.  They have to endure the secrets, the lies, and the abuse that go along with this lifestyle.  It is beyond imagination unless you’ve experienced it first-hand.” 

Thankfully, there is hope for addicts because of twelve-step programs around the country and institutions like St. Christopher’s Inn, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Graymoor, New York.  For over 100 years, St. Christopher’s has been a beacon of hope for those who find themselves homeless because of addiction.  At their recent Board of Directors dinner, a young man shared the story of regaining his sobriety and his life due to their work.  

It’s also important to remember that addiction moves you away from your relationship with God  - though God, of course, is always right there waiting for you to re-connect.  In fact, it’s His power that uplifts the human spirit and lets the chains of addiction fall away.

A popular intercessor for addicts is the Venerable Matthew Talbot who lived in Ireland during the late 1800’s.  At the age of 28, Matthew took “the pledge” and never drank again. He had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, went to Mass daily, and financially supported many religious organizations. He filled his spare time reading about the lives of the saints, especially Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Catherine of Siena.  He died at the age of 69 on his way to Mass.  Here is a quote from Matthew:

      “Three things I cannot escape: the eye of God, the voice of    conscience, the stroke of death. In company, guard your tongue. In your family, guard your temper. When alone, guard your thoughts.”

In order to help the millions of people in the U.S. affected by addiction understand and overcome it, The Christophers recently published a special News Note on that very topic.  As with all of our material, its purpose is to offer help and hope.  And we think the words it includes from a recovering drug addict named David say it all:

“I was a heroin and crack addict and alcoholic for 20 years.  I would steal on a daily basis and have been to jail several times for drug and alcohol-related offenses.  I got sick and tired of being sick.  I am only seven months into recovery, but now I wake up every morning just happy to wake up.  My most difficult day in recovery is a thousand times better than one in active addiction.  I want to make sure every addict knows there’s a solution.  No addict needs to feel helpless.  I want to give addicts hope that there is something that works.  There is recovery for everyone who wants it.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Recovery from Addiction Through God and Service

This News Note can be read in the following formats:

This informative News Note concludes with the following quote: “It’s as hard to give up the drink as it is to raise the dead to life again. But both are possible and even easy for Our Lord. We have only to depend on Him.” – Venerable Matt Talbot, invoked for help with sobriety.

Additional Christophers News Notes can be read at

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bread in the Desert and Addiction Recovery

Bread in the Desert 
Cycle A Ordinary Time  Corpus Christi 
by Bishop Robert Barron
June 22, 2014
Details: "All of us are on a spiritual journey from sin to salvation. Like the Israelites longing for a return to Egypt, many of us occasionally desire our old addictions, providing the anxious ego with comfort and security. Far from Egypt, the Promised Land is the spiritual space of complete dependence upon God. But the Israelites are not there yet. They need to eat the manna from heaven. For Catholics, this is the Eucharist. It is the means to getting God’s divine life within us."

An additional perspective on Bishop Baron's presentation is by Scott Weeman on June 14, 2017 at, which is quoted below:

“Few can summarize the spiritual principles that overlap between addiction recovery and nourishment through the Eucharist like Bishop Robert Barron. He speaks to this really well and beautifully connects our journey to the readings for this Feast of Corpus Christi. If you are on the Road to Happy Destiny (active in addiction recovery), I strongly suggest taking fifteen minutes to hear what Bishop Barron has to say. In fact, he ties the act of sin to the same spiritual principles that are applicable to anyone. I believe giving this a listen will enhance your experience as you contemplate the space that God occupies in your life as we lead up to Sunday’s Eucharistic celebration.”

Update:  Suggested reading:  “Transformed and Unified: On the Eucharist and Recovery “ by Scott Weeman on June 18, 2017 at

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Integrating One's 12-step Program and Catholic Faith

"How my 12-step program informs my Catholic faith, and vice- versa"
by "A Friend of Bill W."
June 03, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Relating to Saints with a Past

St. Paul had a past: I like saints who are rough around the edges; it is easier for me to relate to them. St. Augustine, St. Ignatius, Venerable Matt Talbot, whoever it is, I love saints with rough backgrounds because it gives me hope that I can be a saint too. Paul assisted in the stoning of St. Stephen and he zealously persecuted Christians, hunting them down and dragging them from their homes. Paul was basically a murderer and a bully! And God looked at Paul and thought, “Now there is the perfect man to spread the Gospel.” Kind of unbelievable. But it gives us hope. If God could not only make something out of Paul but make him one of the greatest saints of the Church, he can surely make something out of each one of us.

Note:  One modern story perhaps worth reading:  "Though Adam Brown is not “officially” a saint, his ability to turn his life around after descending to a virtual hell on earth remains a testament to the power of God’s love, grace and mercy in all our lives.

Everybody would have remembered Adam as a success story, and his past could have gladly been put into a box and forgotten. But he said to his parents and wife, ‘If anything happens to me, let people know who I was when I was at my worst, and that might inspire some people to get out of their own dark holes, to seek faith, to find strength in whatever it is that could help them to get through it"

Continue reading at

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

One Unique SAINT of the DAY Website Noting Venerable Matt Talbot

Saint of the Day – 7 June: Venerable Matt Talbot OFS
by Ana StPaul
Breathing Catholic
Posted on 7 June 2017
This special website begins on one of the following 4 links about Venerable Matt Talbot OFS:

“Venerable Matt Talbot OFS (1856 – 1925) (born Matthew Talbot) – Layman, Ascetic, Mystic – known as the “Saint in Overalls” and “the Workers’ Saint”, disciple of Eucharistic Adoration and the Blessed Virgin –  Patron of Struggling and Recovering Addicts and Alcoholics and many addiction treatment programs, retreats and centres throughout the world bear his name.  His grave is at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Seán McDermott Street, Dublin.”

"How did Matt Talbot spend his last day of life?"

Today is the 92nd anniversary of Matt Talbot's death.

Without getting into extensive detail as provided in biographies, we post the content from the Dublin Diocesan Matt Talbot Website:


Matt's Ultimate Victory

Granby Lane

“Trinity Sunday, the 7th June 1925, was the hottest day of a heat wave that had gripped the country since the previous week. Matt as usual had attended the 5.30am Mass in Gardiner St. and went to Holy Communion with the men of his Sodality at 8.00am Mass. After Mass he returned to Rutland Street to have his usual meagre breakfast, one of his neighbours thought he looked poorly and advised him to take a little rest. Matt admitted that he was feeling a little weak but a half an hour later Matt came down again; he smiled at his neighbour, said he felt all right and was going on to the 10am Mass in Dominick Street.

Dominican Church

He always hurried to Mass. Around two sides of Mountjoy Square, along Gardiner Place, past Belvedere College, down Gardiner Row and along the North side of Parnell Square he was now just a few minutes away from his goal, the Dominican Church. Turning into Granby Lane, a short cut to the Church, he stumbled and collapsed. Passers by came to his aid people coming from an earlier Mass in Dominick called for a priest, a nurse and a Guard were on the scene.

An eye witness account from Noel Carroll, who was a young boy at the time, recalls how his father who was manager of a chemist's shop at Bolton Street, would generally attend the 10am Mass on Sunday mornings in Dominick Street. On some Sundays he would take Noel along with him. Though he was only eight and a half years at the time he remembers that Sunday morning June 7th 1925 very well.

He describes how it was a very sunny morning as he and his father turned into Granby Lane they noticed a lot of excitement centred around a man lying on the ground. Noel's father, being a chemist, went over to give First Aid; Noel observed his father as he opened the stud of the man's shirt-collar. By now a large crowd had gathered. The chemist instructed the people to stand back. As they did Noel got a good look at the man. He had no collar or tie, and wore a grey suit. Noel recalls that as the man closed his eyes and died the bell for Mass had begun to ring it was about 9.40am. It is quite conceivable that the last sound which Matt heard was the Vox Dei, the voice of God's call to the Banquet of the Eucharist, a call that Matt had been so faithful to during his life now beckoned him to its fulfillment in heaven. If Matt had known that morning what was going to happen he would not have worn the chains. Little did he realise that they would be the way in which God would reveal the hidden aspects of his life of holiness to the world.”

Friday, June 2, 2017

World Meeting of Families – 21-26 August 2018 in Dublin

Dublin, Ireland, has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the next World Meeting of Families in August 2018. Started by Saint John Paul II, and held every three years, this major world event celebrates family as the cornerstone of our lives, and the fundamental building block of society and the Church. It’s official website is at
Details for the three thousand volunteers needed are available at 
This would be a wonderful opportunity for all who attend to share and distribute Venerable Matt Talbot information to others.