The Old Country and the New 

Words to contemplate, taking to heart, knowing that God means what He says, and keeps the promises He has made.

"Behold, I make all things new"

"It is through Christ's cross that we have conquered the mortal enemies of humanity since the Garden of Eden - the world, the flesh and the devil."

The effect of changing out environments on those suffering from addictions, has been a recent subject of conversation in the psychological sciences community. A news story re-reported the astonishing recovery rate of 90% for heroin addicts returned to the United States after the Vietnam War. It has taken scientists four decades to soberly consider the truth of this phenomenon. It was to do with replacing the inhabited 'toxic environment' with one that isn't.

This is not a revelation for lust addicts, who know that, familiar poisonous terrain breeds sin and error. Addicts know exactly what 'triggers' are and how important to be at safe distance from them. Yes, if only we could retreat from the 'foreign country' we have been lost in and returned to native land that is purified from hazards! From scripture we read;"I know their suffering... I have come down to deliver bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex 3:8).

Where is this original land, far away from the lost lands of personal abuse and desecration?Is it on another continent? In another hemisphere? On the other side of the globe? Where is the "person-before-he-was-an-addict" 's true, native land?

Sobriety is a tempting guess, but seems rather more like the 'milk and honey', in that new place. It is closer, nearby.

It is the local catholic church. Inside the doors of a catholic church is a supernatural country, far away from the world, its defilements and unconsciousness, far away from death and sin, from disorder and ugliness, from paganry and self-fixation. The Christian faith believes that there is a kingdom not of this world, and it worships the inextinguishable flame of this World, inside its sacred doors.

The Church does more; it distributes the sacrament of purity, Who is Jesus. The impure sometimes believe (wrongly) that they do not belong in a country where all is pure. In fact, we do! Not as the still impure, but as the made-pure. Jesus has come to us and He insists that we follow him; we need only believe it. Faith crucially activates the cleansing fire of God's grace; faith escorts us to the borders of that true country for which we have long secretly yearned. Jesus says and will say "Your faith has saved you".

The secret of freedom, expressed in sobriety and eventually in chaste living and holy masculinity, is reliance on God.

It can fail to make sense at all to those first awakening. This elusive homeland instead seems like it is another foreign country.

Before it comes to make sense, addicts can labor, deeply believing that they must "come up with" the whiteknuckle wherewithal for self-mastery. No way else seems possible, having lived long-term uncontemplated deep self-reliance and self-fixation. Addicts are by nature self-reliant and self-fixated: they know how to get what they think they need, and go about it sometimes with almost spectacular efficiency. This belief carries over into the work of recovery; in this mistake: "I must execute the right self-compunction and freedom will result".

The paradoxical truth is, the complete opposite is the case. But, the addict has trouble locating the new 'opposite' way, because of inaccurate internal premises and distortion caused by addicted living, errors which in time become exposed to the light. Conversion is seeing that addiction was the foreign country.The new country of sobriety is strange and new and often seems too good to believe. Only in time does the capacity for recognition, already built-in, already placed their by Mercy in advance, begin to awaken for us. This acclimation to the bright light of a new world, far from the dark falseness of the old, requires patience and time.

Jesus in the sacrament is the key and prayer is the sword he gives us through grace. We can ask to be liberated completely from our affliction, but it is more likely that God wants us to wield the sword of prayer, which invokes the faultless blood of Jesus. It is by this perfectly offered blood that we are defended, that the enemy shrinks away and vanishes. God delivers us just as we make the prayer with faith that He will do it.

Lo, the new land appears in our very midst, suddenly, through the triumph, not of self-given mastery, but of God-given self mastery. It all happens through the sacraments Jesus instituted. Believe He will do it and come, receive the Bread of Pure Land, the True Food that makes pure. To receive Jesus, by confession and by holy communion is to receive grace. Not only is the environment changed, but grace to refuse the old country, strengthened. Jesus is the new country of freedom.

Thank you Jesus, our Savior, our God.

Prayer for today

"O God, you desire life for your people. Protect us from all that would lead is away from you. Guide us safely to the house you have prepared for us, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."