The ARM of St. Michael
St. Mary, the mother of Christ, is known under many advocations in the Church. She could be no better known to this fellowship of the long-afflicted as Our Lady of Conversion. To her, we pray, for the grace to be convertible, and converted, however long it take and in whatever it may entail.
Conversion is a slow exchange, of what is false being replaced by what is true; what is death for what is life; what is human for what is divine. As recovering addicts and compulsives we are on a quest for sickness being converted into wellness, the tangible manifestation of saying yes to a new way – God’s.
In order to cooperate with conversion, discernment is key. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between good and evil.
Before discerning what is harmful to us and what is a blessing, there is coming to believe that some of what is experienced is good and some evil. The ability to know this is a grace. Grace is a power encountered only in the vocabulary of religion, the study of what is eternal, what is wisdom, what is from God alone.
Christians believe that wisdom is not like a lost lake or a hidden treasury with a door that only some find. Wisdom is an omnipresent Person. That person is called the Word, because he speaks the mind of God, he speaks truth, he speaks what is right, always. This is Christ, the man-God. The record of his Word, what he said on Earth, is the New Testament Gospel of the Bible.
Catholics believe that this one Son of God became a human and delivered himself up to a sacrificial death, who’s merits and benefits are infinite because God, the victim of the sacrifice, is infinite. The sacrifice becomes the food of a nourishing inexhaustible banquet. We consume God’s flesh, not as cannibals because there is no butchery at the holy table. There is a small round of flat bread and a drop of wine. God arranged for His body and blood to be approachable, familiar, perfectly simple, cosmically humble. Following Jesus’ exact instructions, a priest speaks the bread and wine into a sacrament by a Heaven-aimed request, which becomes a sign of divine action upon His creature.
We need this sacrament so that grace can enter us, discernment can enter us and conversion can convert us. God will then possess us, instead of sin and addiction. But we must also want it.
At seven years, this prayer group returns to the root of its first rising: helping others to recover, which is also the final step of the model 12. Our own recovery requires us to help others to find what we ourselves have found. It is also the final astonishing key to health spoken in Isaiah 58: ‘assist others and your own wounds will quickly heal’.
The words of Jude 17-25:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who set up divisions, worldly people devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some , who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the outer garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Do not the recovering know the triple wisdom of this passage? In our meetings we openly share our wounds, our journey, our faith, our great secret - Jesus, so that others will be freed from doubt of salvation; which we also reveal prudently to those who cross our path in the world. Do we not intercede for the man in peril, with readiness, presence and prayers when the virus of lust is stinging him at this hour; and then keep praying for him though he no longer sweat seeking holy peace, offering Masses and rosaries and fasts? Do we not also exercise great caution when that witness tempts a heroic mission deep behind enemy lines, so that we do not succumb to error, being undone by our own interminable weakness; by our forgetting that the very garments of the lust-lost spread contagion; by poorly calculated risk?
The survivors of child abuse often come to a refuge of sexual sin, where many practice intoxication, to help forget the madness of what are invisible wounds. But intoxication only causes more stumbling and falling and injury. Sin, which is punishment not of God but of self, is then unmasked as self-harm. We are thus far from alone, nor are the apparently healthy, strangers to our plight. All sin is self-harm. Sin is addiction to human power, thus to want what is lower what is only human, when Heaven is a place of powers, angels and divinities.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is remaining ever engaged in our own conversion and asking for desire to help a brother’s, paying for his with prayers and fasts. Love is continuing to let God be all and everything that we need, and to witness the joy of his Divine favor in the very midst of this unceasing conversion.
God in Heaven you alone are able to keep us from falling. Grant us the desire and willingness to stay close to Jesus every day and to stop doing what we know is not good for us, what is not Your will. Let us die to sin that we have stupidly loved like a god, and be your obedient children who serve others, for your glory and our transformation. Through Jesus Christ your son who lives and reigns with you in the Spirit one God forever and ever. Amen.