This painful path seems to dominate the mind's attention and dim the spiritual life, similar to the dimmer switch you have experience with in your own home or the home of someone else. At first your spiritual life may be bright, then with each passing day where an "adult beverage" is more and more the companionship of choice, the light slowly fades to the darkness you ultimately will find yourself engulfed by and abhorring. It may even lead you do doubt your own salvation and life of value.
Those around you, stand by seemingly and sometimes realistically distant perhaps after all the chaos has subsided, feeling helpless in prayer, "Maybe this time it will be different". Each day that passes, you think this is your problem (or maybe you think you don't have a problem) and you are alone, but those around you constantly fear that phone call or text message that something has happened; the pain to a loved one's gut is followed by the punch that comes in the middle of the night startled from a restless sleep (no one sleeps deeply and at peace when someone is drinking to excess); or it may come while in a meeting or some other place it would be difficult at best to remain composed at the report of an accident or worse.
Eleven days into the New Year: Are you still praying that alcohol wasn't a part of your life? Catholic brothers and sisters everywhere struggle with this in the silence of shame, while children, spouses and close friends are wiping away tears. If one has had enough and they are blessed to have the support of their priest and loved ones, they are receiving spiritual guidance, encouragement and fellowship needed to overcome a life of captivity, supplemented by the assistance of professionals, like a doctor, therapist or psychiatrist.
However, maybe you don't think you have a problem and don't need help. One way to begin the exploration of this is to be still and spend some quite time before the blessed sacrament at your parish. You are Catholic and you might be long over due for the peace you will find in meditation, or just sitting in the quiet presence of our Lord to clear your head about what you would like to accomplish in your spiritual community. There is no better place for spiritual counsel than with Jesus. If you go, be aware of where your mind may drift if not mediating on God's love for you. Does it wander to the next opportunity for a drink? or plan for secret behaviors or cover-up before you get to the office? Does it drift to someone in your life, who you love, annoying you with comments you may need to quit? Taking an opportunity to be still and sit in quite with our Lord is a good way to discover any vice or problem that needs attention, healing and forgiveness leading to reconciliation and action beyond praying to become what you want to be and the Lord has yet to reveal. What have you got to lose?
If drinking is taking up more time than you are spending with your loved ones without alcohol, thinking about quiting is difficult; but with help and attention to the social, medical, psychological and spiritual characteristics of your life, and with prayer and support you can, as are many, make incremental progress every single day, to restore your dreams, hopes, relationships and living a life of meaningful change.
Today, in the Gospel according to Mark 1:21-28, we see Jesus rebuke a man with an unclean spirit and command, "Come out of him!" and "The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him." Overcoming any sin that captivates us is jarring, convulsing at first. But, the rewards to allowing Christ's influence are so great, but we do have to come to him in humility...and before someone is making that phone call or sending that text message on your behalf.
This year is still very new. If you are struggling with alcohol, come to Jesus and learn of his teaching and principles to reorder your life. Talk with your local priest and be healed by his guidance and the fellowship of others who support your well being. Make an appointment today with your doctor or therapist. Call your insurance company today to find out what benefits you may have to deal with this (If you don't have insurance, see the link below for a Facility Locator and search for a facility with financial assistance). If you are uncertain if you have a problem or need to get help, consider the resources that follow. Whatever you do, make the time to be still, spend some time in the quite presence of our Lord; your life will be dramatically changed.
by Steven Curtis Chapman
- MassTimes.org - Find a parish and times for reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration in your neighborhood.
- Catholic Mens Groups - This list is in its infancy stage, but you can learn about what connection with others who share your faith might look like.
- AlcoholScreening.org - Maybe you really don't have a problem. Check and find out (Hosted by Boston University).
- Facility Locator - Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Find a facility close to you, or in neighboring communities, if privacy is of concern.
- Men and Depression
- Catholic Counselors
- CrossingTheGoal.org - A ministry which serves the spiritual needs of men.
- The Hook and I: A Catholic 12-Step Program (Paperback)
- The National Catholic Council on Alcoholism and Related Drug Problems - NCCCA is affiliated with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Books for Spiritual Growth in Eucharistic Adoration
- Directory of Churches and Chapels with Eucharistic Adoration
- Guest House - A place for Catholic clergy and religious who suffer from alcoholism. It has served the faithful from 48 countries worldwide.