Sunday, July 10, 2011

Addiction and recovery and recovering addicts.


"Pray we'll break the shackles of addiction and give glory to God for all eternity." *
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I've never been in treatment or rehab or a recovery program, but I think I know about addictions.  I know about pretending and making excuses and hiding.  I know about lying.  I think I can usually spot liars, pretenders, phonies - not always right away - but pretty much of the time I pick up on it sooner than later.  I can almost always tell when someone is drunk, is on something or is using - I can tell.  I grew up in a household of lying and drunks and abuse.  It was good training.  I too learned how to lie and make excuses and pretend - it was quite a struggle at times. "There but for the grace of God go I."
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That said - I came across a very good post by a British blogger, Shadowlands who posted something about a priest Fr Ralph Pfau, known as the "Prodigal Shepherd" from the title of his book by the same name.  Fr. Pfau declared of himself,  "All my life, I will carry three indelible marks. I am a Roman Catholic priest. I am an alcoholic. And I am a neurotic."  Shadowlands says of him,  "He suffered much, but he kept trying."   I think that is key to conversion and the way to sanctity - 'saints are sinners who kept trying'.  I'm reprinting her post here:
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Excerpt from the chapter, The Dawn of Truth ( from his book Sobriety and Beyond) by Father Ralph Pfau. (Imprimatur Paul C Shulte D.D Archbishop of Indianapolis March 1955).
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"Somewhere along the path of life of every human being there comes a dread moment when he suddenly sees himself for what he is. Minus all the sham, the surface and the show, he then stands face to face with truth. Minus the deception of his own self seeking and selfishness, he sees himself clearly outlined in the aura of God's grace as it tears away all the foolish self deceptions and shows a man for what he really is- selfish, deceitful, full of excuses, dishonest, even to himself and full of faults and failings............conts: To most of us, this moment comes at a time when many of life's battles and years have passed, but at a time when there still remains sufficient years, vigor and initiative to "seek truth and pursue it,".in order to make it the motive of our living, the motive of our struggles and the security of our declining years.
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This moment may be brought about by the death of a loved one, the loss of worldly goods, or it may be directly occasioned within by the grace of God speaking to the depth of our soul. To most alcoholics it comes at that instant when they face the inevitable choice: death, insanity or absolute sobriety. It often comes with a blinding flash that seems to tear away the very foundations of life and whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, layman or professional, young or old, there arises from the very innermost sanctuary of the soul and heart the cry "My God, what a mess I have made of things! How pitiful is the good done, how sparing my help to others, how innumerable my mistakes, the wrongs-how all pervading my self seeking, how dishonest my every motive! How seamy the finished, but now battered product!"
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This "moment" may last for an hour, a day, a month, a year or for years. But whenever, however it comes- it is a dread and fearful moment, because UPON THAT MOMENT AND THE DECISIONS OF THAT MOMENT MAY DEPEND OUR VERY LIFE AND OUR ETERNITY. And from that time on, one can never be the same again.....................conts: It is then that life's greatest decision must be made and then it seems that an angel has him by the hands and a devil by the foot...............he can do one of three things:
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First, rush in confusion back to the old surface view of self and try by a thousand and one half remedies to dress up the haunting vision, to explain away the stubborn reality. TO EXCUSE and to attempt forgetfulness by courting the sham fancies of the night and by rushing headlong through the chores of the day. THIS IS THE CHOICE OF THE VAIN MAN.
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Second, the shock may be so great, the failure so undeniably real, the disillusionment so crushing that he despairs and in one way or another he seeks to destroy himself- either factually or by the bottle. THIS IS THE PROUD MAN.
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Third, this is the way of the Prodigal Son, who dropped on his knees in the swine pen and cried: "Father, I have sinned" or with it's echo "I am powerless... my life is unmanageable"- and perhaps for the first time in his life that man REALLY prays and begins to MEDITATE, THIS IS THE HUMBLE MAN. And day by day he prays and he MEDITATES on TRUTH lest again he fall back into his former life-long HABIT OF EXCUSES. For the LIFE OF ALL IS LOADED WITH EXCUSES-AND SYSTEMATIC, PERSISTENT AND CONSISTENT MEDITATION ALONE WILL DISSIPATE THEM. "With desolation is the land made desolate because there are none who thinketh in their hearts." - I love this priest.
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My last Corapi comment - I hope.
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I have another comment on Fr. Corapi.  More than the devil made him do it, or the woman seduced me excuses, aside from possibly being a psychopath, I get the impression Corapi may have turned back to look at the 'old man'.  It is dangerous for addicts to be alone - as a rule they don't make good hermits - especially if they keep alcohol for the guests or use pain medications or sleep aids for any length of time - if at all.  When photos of the thin, tanned, dyed-goatee Corapi first surfaced I told friends, "He's using."  I might be wrong of course.  Nevertheless I think he may have started backsliding somewhere along the line and went the route of the  'vain man' and the 'proud man' Fr. Pfau talks about.  I also think he surrounded himself with a group of codependent enablers to 'support' him.  Now, at this point, God only knows who has got a hold of him.  Likewise I think many of his followers have now become his enablers. 
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I will indeed keep praying for Fr. Corapi - thanks to Shadowlands great big compassionate heart.  I'm also thinking he may need an intervention more than an exorcism or exclaustration?  (The word worked better than suspension - I know he wasn't cloistered.) 
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Something to think about.
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*  "You keep me alive. I have often said and mean it, it ain't over till it's over. I hope you never read in the newspapers I ended up dead in a crack house somewhere, but don't you think it couldn't happen and so you pray for me and I'll pray for you and we'll pray for all our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we'll break the shackles, we'll break the shackles of addiction and give glory to God for all eternity. Amen, God bless you!". Fr Corapi
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Art:  III - Jesus falls the first time:  Matt Talbot  
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I didn't know it before - but today is actually Matt Talbot Sunday.  Go here for more information: Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center
 

7 comments:

  1. Amen my brother (hope that doesn't sound like a westboro baptist. What? We must keep up the rosaries for each other.

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  2. By the way Terry, I keep posting a comment on Fr Corapi's blog and youtube channel, telling him to ask for the prayers of Father Ralph Pfau. Maybe we should all bombard his combox with this message? It might make him seek help from above?

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  3. I don't suffer addiction of the physical sort but I go through periods where I feel weighted down by the addiction to the guilt of my prior life.
    Does that make sense? Probably not, haha.

    I try and try and try, but I cannot seem to completely forgive myself for my past.
    Sometimes it overwhelms me.

    Is this what an addict feels like, because if it is -- my God, have mercy on them. On all of us.

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  4. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Amen to what everyone else said - I'm a food addict, and sometimes there's a glimmer of what alcoholism is like. I often think of my late Mom, an alcoholic like several others on her side of the family, and how angry I sometimes got at what she was doing to herself, not realizing I was doing the same thing to my body by overeating. God have mercy on all of us indeed - and may He give all of us the grace to keep on trying.

    Chloesmom

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  5. Cathy, I get that. You're not alone. I have to keep telling myself that no matter how disordered my inclinations, I truly repent - daily - from my heart, for all that I have done and for the sin remaining in my heart and entrust it to our Lord's Sacred Heart. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a steadfast spirit within me." One of my constant prayers.

    I love 12-Step Spirituality. Good stuff. For anyone interested, check out the talks by Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P., founder of the 12-Step Review.

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  6. I saw that in the sheepdog combox.
    I was so struck by it that I emailed it to myself.
    I wonder if any of this is reaching Harley John?
    I hope so.

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  7. Cathy - the following from the Desert Fathers has always helped me:

    "A brother asked a hermit, 'Is it good to be always repenting?' The hermit answered, 'We have seen Joshua the son of Nun; it was when he was lying prostrate on his face that God appeared to him.'"

    Confidence and love.

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