O Glorious Saint Matthias, in God’s design it fell upon you to take the place of the unfortunate Judas who betrayed his Master.
You were selected by the twofold sign of the uprightness of your life and the call of the Holy Spirit.
Obtain for us the grace to practice the same uprightness of life and to be called by that same Spirit to wholehearted service of the Church.
Help us remember that Jesus chose you, like us, not for what you were but because of what you would become through His grace.
Please help all who struggle with the addiction of alcoholism to experience this same grace and come to live in the serenity and joy of a life surrendered to God.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Most afternoons, I pick up my son’s daughter from preschool and bring her to my house for snacks and playtime. It’s the highlight of my day. She’s the apple of my eye. She munches carrots at our kitchen table, then plays alphabet games on the computer, or we go to the mall to watch people ice-skating and do a little shopping.
This year my granddaughter turns five, an age etched deeply in my heart. It’s how old my son, Paul, was when something happened to him that I’ll never forget.
Now Paul is in his fifties, and I haven’t spoken to him in years. He’s struggled with alcoholism and has been in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous programs, the reason I’m writing this true story without our last name. He and his wife divorced soon after their daughter was born, and Paul lost custody. I’m not even sure where he lives. Still, I pray every day that God will heal him from his demons. Maybe it seems naïve to believe that God will help save someone who appears to have no interest in saving himself. But there is a reason I believe.
The year Paul turned five, everything was changing in our family. I had gotten a promotion at my accounting firm, and my wife and I moved with our three children, Paul and his two sisters, from Florida to Colorado. I was torn about the move. I grew up in Florida and most of our extended family lived there.
But we found a two-story wood-frame house to rent in a pretty neighborhood in Wheat Ridge, a suburb west of Denver, with a spectacular view of the mountains. We joined a church and enrolled the kids in school. We quickly made friends with some of the people from church.
Try These Self-Help Books to Reach Your God-Given Purpose
One afternoon, about three months after the move, my phone rang at the office. It was my wife, crying hysterically.
“Paul is in the hospital!” she managed to get out between sobs. “He was playing upstairs and stood on the windowsill. He fell through the screen onto the concrete driveway. It looks really bad. . . .”
I fought my way frantically through the Denver traffic, repeating my favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. . . .”
All I could think about was the day Paul was born, a healthy nine-pound, three-ounce baby, the son I’d always wanted. How could this have happened to him? All my adult life I’d used my analytical mind to succeed in my career and in everything else. Now my mind was useless. I blamed myself for choosing the promotion and the move. We’d lived in a single-story house in Florida. This never could have happened there!
I finally got to the hospital. I raced to Paul’s room. My wife was with him, along with a doctor and a nurse. Our Sunday school teacher, our pastor and two other friends from church had heard the news and gotten to the hospital before me. Paul lay motionless in a bed that looked like a crib, with protective railings on all sides. He was in a hospital gown, his eyes closed, his body a mass of bruises.
“He’s bleeding internally,” the doctor told us. “He has several broken ribs, a blood clot in his brain and severe damage to his back. I’m very sorry, but we don’t expect him to survive.” The doctor and the nurse gave us the room to contemplate our son’s fate.
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My knees gave way. I sank to the floor. My wife knelt beside me and I held on to her, trying to keep from dissolving. I heard my pastor praying.
I knew I should pray too. It was hard to focus my mind. I began to pray in a whisper, “Please, God, save my son.” Even those words were difficult to say. “Take all of me,” I prayed. “From now on I give everything to you. Just please, save my son.”
A certain feeling, unlike anything I had ever felt before, came over me. Like a shift in the room’s atmosphere. As if it was being pumped full of something, heavier than the air but colorless and odorless. It enveloped me, a light pressure at first, then increasing with strength. It rippled down my shoulders, tightened the muscles in my chest and squeezed my stomach until it hurt. Some presence in the room seemed to be holding my trembling body close, taking away my breath and all my terrified, despairing thoughts.
The feeling intensified until I worried I might be crushed. Then all of a sudden it vanished.
The change lasted no more than a moment. Before I even opened my eyes, I heard a whimper. I looked up to see Paul . . . standing on the bed, his hands on the railings.
“Daddy, I’m hungry,” he said.
I leaped to my feet and wrapped my son in my arms, forgetting for a moment about his broken ribs, his internal injuries. I came to my senses and pulled away, but Paul hadn’t flinched, didn’t wince in pain. Instead, he grinned. I hugged him again, even tighter.
My wife, our pastor and everyone else rushed to join us and we became one tangle of tearful joy. I knew God had visited that room. Paul had been healed.
Pandemonium broke out as our friends from church began praising God and the doctors and nurses ran back in to see what was happening. “We need to do more X-rays,” the doctor said. “I don’t understand what’s going on. What we’re witnessing is impossible.”
To me, Paul looked ready to go home. But I told the doctor he could keep him at the hospital as long as necessary. “For two days, I think,” the doctor said.
My wife and I remained at Paul’s side until visiting hours were over. Then we went home. Neither of us could sleep that night.
“Did you feel it?” my wife asked. “In the hospital room?”
“You felt it too?”
The following morning, the nurses, at their wits’ end trying to get our five-year-old to sit still in his room, called us to come take him home. His latest scans had shown no internal injuries at all.
Many years have passed since then. I’m retired, remarried, living in Texas now. But the memory of that day hasn’t faded one bit. I still see Paul’s grin every time his little girl lights up at something I say that she finds funny, and I remember my son standing on his hospital bed. The presence, the embrace that I felt, that my wife felt. I ask myself, did Paul feel it too?
I’m not sure when Paul will stop falling. But I hope that he reads this and knows he is not alone. I hope he can find the healing and peace only God can deliver. I’ve witnessed it before, and I believe someday I’ll witness it again.
FIND RESOURCES FOR THOSE COPING WITH ADDICTION.
There are numerous websites dedicated to helping individuals battling alcoholism, as alcohol is one of the nation’s most abused substances. Drinking is a hallmark of American society and social drinking which develops into alcohol addiction is as challenging as the hardest illegal street drug to kick, once the cycle of alcohol abuse sets in. Because alcohol consumption is legal, some may not look at its addiction propensity, due to the tolerance which progressively develops with regular alcohol consumption.
Binge drinking and underage drinking go hand-in-hand, and incidences of increased alcohol abuse in each category is on the rise, according to recent statistics furnished by the Center for Disease Control. Alcoholism combined with illegal drug addiction can become a death sentence for those who are unaware of the potentially deadly effects that ensue from abusing the two substances. Many people who currently drink alcohol while using narcotics are too young to remember the story of Karen Ann Quinlan, who, according to Time Magazine, in 1975 consumed alcohol while taking sedatives one night, fell asleep and never awoke from a coma that kept her out of commission for the remaining 10 years of her “life”, even after she had “won the right to die”.
However, death from alcoholism can take a number of ugly directions, being that one of the most common of the leading causes of accidental death comes from drunk driving accidents, which claim untold innocent lives each year. Diseases including cirrhosis of the liver, various forms of cancer including pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer have correlations to alcoholism or heavy alcohol abuse.
Yet, as bad as the physical damage done to the alcoholic’s body, mind and spirit is, the resulting negative social impact of the disease upon every family member is incalculable. Children’s lives become unraveled when alcoholism is a factor, often leading to homelessness, physical abuse, violence, mental illness and early death for the alcoholic. Negative emotions including guilt and shame predominate in the alcoholic’s mental self-imagery, often serving the effect of intensified alcohol consumption, as denial is a large component of the alcoholic’s psychological mindset.
Due to the above scenario, it is critical that individuals suffering from alcoholism be guided toward self help groups in their attempt to recover from the disease. The “12 step program” designed by Alcoholics Anonymous has proven to be a tangible tool for recovery from alcohol addiction and can now be accessed and followed online with feedback from members of the online support group community. Online alcoholism rehab may not ever completely replace face-to-face counseling, including group therapy, as encountered in A.A. meetings. However, to those who are taking an initial step toward their recovery, the flow of support and strength to be gained from coming in touch with real people at online support groups for alcoholism can be enough of a stimulus to help one make it through one more day.
Following are a few websites which have online support groups devoted to helping people with alcoholism recovery:
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS / www.aa.org
ALCOHOLISM RECOVERY ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS / www.12stepforums.net
ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS FOR ALCOHOL ADDICTION / www.smartrecovery.org
SUPPORT GROUPS ONLINE FOR ALCOHOLISM / www.cyberrecovery.net
“Top 10 Comas”, Time Magazine,www.time.com/time/…/0,28804,1864940_1864939_1864909,00.html
– Center for Disease Control, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
The “Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics” is a book that is rooted in an ancient Catholic devotion. It is intended to assist Catholics and other Christians find deeper meaning in their struggles with alcoholism, by connecting the oftentimes hard road of sobriety with Jesus’ suffering road to His Crucifixion. The reader sees that their old alcoholic ‘self’ is being led to the Cross and the joy of eventual resurrection of a new sober self can follow. Whether they are still drinking and struggling, or have been sober for many years and still have difficulties coping with sobriety, this book should help readers maintain that sobriety.
The book was written by SoberCatholic.com blogger, “Paulcoholic”, a/k/a Paul Sofranko.
For some reviews, please go here: “Author offers two Catholic takes on recovery” : The Catholic Sun of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona
(Via The Catholic Sun.)
And courtesy of Catholic Alcoholic:
Buy the Book: Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics
For purchase information:
The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics is now available for purchase through a variety on online sources, both in print, and in ebook versions.
You may buy the book in print either of these places:
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on Amazon.com
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on CreateSpace
For those who like ebooks, you can obtain the book via the following ways, for virtually any ebook reader:
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics for Amazon Kindle.
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on Apple iTunes.
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on the Barnes and Noble Nook.
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on Kobobooks
Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics on Diesel eBooks.
Stations of the Cross on Smashwords.
On Smashwords, the book is available in virtually any ebook format around. See the Smashwords site for particular formats.
If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle Reading app here:
Free Kindle Reading Apps.
If you don’t own a Nook reader, you can download a free Nook reading app here:
Free NOOK Reading App from Barnes & Noble.
The book is also on Google+
My wife, Rose Santuci-Sofranko, has also published some photography books that would be of interest to people. Art and photography, particularly religious and spiritual, can help you get closer to God. A SoberCatholic.com Page of her books is here:
Rose Santuci-Sofranko “Artist4God”
Her primary site is here: ARTIST4GOD: Rose Santuci-Sofranko