The ARM of St. Michael
Addicts and compulsives are counseled sometimes to be prepared for the possibility that absolute freedom from weakness may not be granted in this lifetime. Perhaps we too, with St. Paul, ask many times, for God to stop the violent satanic angel from visiting us anymore.
If our hope in God has been complete deliverance from the thing over which we have no control, and it doesn’t happen, we can be tempted to join the chorus of the bad thief - a dangerous place. We may conveniently believe that only total deliverance “will work” because we have the “insurmountable” problem of being in love with our sin. Are we working to overcome the love of sin? Are we asking for deep hatred of the unholy intoxication? Are we letting the power of God work the redemption in us?
Drawing near to the edge of what seems like collapsing faith, we may even dare to ask, “What do I actually have then!?! What is Christian freedom?! “
If we question this way, we are already overcome, straining to see at once the long and winding road of recovery, whereas in truth, we have eyes that can only see so much, the small part of today. Recovering addicts are sometimes impatient, petulant, irritated, confused, doubting and in general, unsafe from indolence. Indolence is resentment toward recovery pain and length, and resentment toward ordinary sufferings that become apparent after a certain amount of recovery allows our eyes to perceive life more accurately. These are symptoms of addiction withdrawal, which can all be prayed through:
In the name of Jesus I renounce and bind the spirit of irritation. In the name of Jesus I renounce and bind the spirit of entitlement. …of impatience, frustration, resentment, exasperation In the name of Jesus I ask for the grace to suffer my recovery from addiction.
We remember once more that God is in charge. He alone knows the moment to grant freedom and it may take time, in order to teach us, humility, patience, gratitude, justice, mercy, dependence on God not ourselves. We are creatures but children of God. All protracted struggle sometimes says plainly, as life can: long waiting is a hard teaching.
Faith turns then to the unthinkable. We pause, slow down again, and with trust pose the humble, deliberately patient question, “What do I have Lord?” “What can be counted as my happy and dependable Christian possession as a compulsive in recovery?”
Our priest in the confessional can teach us. To begin with we have moral clarity, we know that lust is wrong. Lust is an evil that destroys. We have already the gift of conscience, the internal clue of what is a good idea and what is not a good idea, what is mental health and what is not. We know right from wrong. Blessed are they who have a conscience and truly wise those who are grateful for it!
Secondly, we know how to work against sin and lust. As Christians we seek help or help someone else, mostly both. We know that our help has a simple name, grace. As catholics, and hopefully through this fellowship of recovery, we are aware of the multitude of living Church sources (see 20 ways) through which grace flows - in every instance, through and in Jesus Christ.
Thanks to St Paul, we know that God’s grace will in fact be enough. Do we believe it? Or is self-reliance the stubborn obstacle? [In the name of Jesus I renounce and bind the spirit of self-reliance.] We can accept and trust what Jesus says. We can find our way to grace through prayer through fasting, through offering up our struggle. We seek grace asking for it, knocking on the Divine door, “giving no sleep to our eyes” until we find a place for the God Who is protection and safety from the Adversary, and from our weak flesh.
Lastly we are motivated to seek purity and chastity out of love. The quest for virtue itself wins for us advancement over our struggle. Virtue replaces vice. Spending ourselves for others conquers evil. Humility wins the Father’s mercy. Love covers a multitude of sins. Helping others, praying for others, blessing others, all lay the gravel of sanctity’s victory road.
If there remains seemingly helpless, confounding attachment to intoxication, bring this very fact to the confessional; it is the right time to make a general confession admitting to the vice of an illness we probably lack desire to be fixed. We ask, ask, ask with humble faith… and receive. Meanwhile, though struggle may go on (and on) we re-remember that God heals all ills, including addiction and compulsion and we do not cease ‘harassing’ Him until He blesses us with our hearts desire.
What we do have is the Direction, that is, which way we are rightly pointed, which way to walk. The mystery and distance of arrival to addiction remission is too great for souls to measure. Let today alone, be enough to cross. This is the burden that is light, the yoke that is easy. We give ourselves the gift of peace, the gift of being a little one, not worrying beyond the task at hand today with faith in the certainty of God’s constant help, which is always only a humble, fearlessly dependent prayer away.
‘The way’ we have is a Person, who is Truth and Life. We have the One who is always with us. Are we present anew to His promise? We may not have definitive freedom, as though it was some graspable thing. We have something greater! We have a mysterious pilgrim process, a holy journey, a mountain-range traverse, a powerful purification, a majestic homecoming. Yes, one long walk unto union with Him, the Father of lights. Recovery is the way of salvation. O mercy, I am not alone!!
What we have is The Way , leaning on and trusting in Christ, doing all that he tells us to do. In the Beautiful Savior, the Divine Perfection, the unfathomable Sacred Heart of the Father’s Mercy, the Holy Spirit’s memory stirring grace, we have all that we need. Right now. Forever. The unbelieving creature might give up on God, but never God on him.
Jesus taught us that flowers do not toil and spin. For humans, too much of the ‘past’ blocks the abundance of the present. Too much future as excessive, unrealistic expectation does the same. Today is indeed enough, this daily bread, the eternal now.
How do we stay in this awakened state? Praise God, bless God, above all thank God, as often as possible. The more grateful we are the more He lavishes upon us. Thank Him for everything, thank Him for the tests that strengthen our muscles and the waiting that will win us the greatest of crowns.
Through it all, in every step, by 20 and more ways, we recognize the reality, the hand of the One Almighty God. Who would carry out at such length, a recovery as ours, with such persistence, such scrutiny, such completeness and thoroughness, such careful love? Only the Father is capable of orchestrating such an incredibly exacting and unabridged transformation by grace. Though ever weak and dependent, we are being wonderfully remade. It is a treasure beyond all naming.
Thank you Father, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity One God do not let us succumb to faithlessness and amnesia, grant us perseverance to the end in our voyage to topple the Beast. We choose to be saved and delivered. Show us our way to help someone today. Let us always say and believe, Your grace is enough. In Jesus name, Amen.