Later I realized there was a very good reason I was so befuddled. I was detoxing from alcohol and cocaine. The fact that I could remember to get dressed and go to work every day was amazing. To expect me to read and comprehend was too much - much more than I was capable of doing.
Eventually the fog cleared and I got a sponsor and the world began to make a lot more sense. I was shown how to take the steps, how to apply the traditions to my life and how to understand the concepts. I was taught the importance of getting into service, of learning the history and of listening to those who had walked the path before me so that I could learn from both their triumphs and their mistakes. I have, in the past almost-twenty-years, had my own brushes with both triumph and idiocy. There is an old saying in my 12 step program: The good news is you get to grow up. The bad news is, you have to do it in public.
As most newcomers I went through the stage where I was so overwhelmed with the miracle of sobriety that I could not figure out why EVERYONE didn't do this deal. It would help with EVERTHING. As I stayed sober, I realized that the uncomfortable feeling I had when I first stumbled into a meeting back in 1990 (yes, you saw that right...it took me two years to get this deal) and saw the steps listed on the wall was because none of what AA was teaching me was new.
I had gone through 12 years of Catholic schools and had had excellent Catechesis in my younger years. My conscience was well formed but warped by alcoholism and by my 2nd year of sobriety I realized that everything AA was teaching me I had been taught in preparation for my First Holy Communion and, later, for my Confirmation.
Take for example what is known as The Third Step Prayer:
God, I offer myself to Thee to do with me as Thou Wilt.
Relieve me of the Bondage of Self, that I may better do Thy Will.
Take away my difficulties, that Victory over them shall bear witness to those I will help
Of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy Will always.
Isn't it beautiful? Completely offering oneself to our Creator and saying, "Here I am....Please, You take over".
Now compare that prayer with this one, known to Catholics as the Suscipe:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote that during a time in Church history when we were inundated with both great saints and great sinners, with miraculous feats of Faith and incredibly awesome scandals.
I do not pretend to have all the answers for everyone; however, I know that being sober lead me back to God. Once I was lead back to God, the fires of my Baptism and Confirmation were fanned into full flame. I could not stand without Jesus and His Church, without The Eucharist. I cannot walk away from His Church even if I do not always understand all that is going on in the way it is operated by human beings. No one, and nothing, will ever keep me away from Him again.
I ask for prayers for the daughter of an old friend of mine. She is entering into a new era. She is confronting her own disease and seeking treatment and healing from the damage that disease has caused her. I know that damage, it is mine. For my sake, and for her's, I ask for prayers for all the alcoholics out there struggling with this disease.
May they find God's Love and return to Him.
A prayer found in the back of the Church by my friend Brendan:
Someone does care
I found God in the morning,
we just sat and talked.
I kept Him near me,
Everywhere I walked.
I called on God at noontime,
A heart filled with despair.
I felt His quiet presence.
I knew He was there.
We met again at sunset,
the waning of the day.
I had made Him happy.
I had lived His way.
Then when at bedtime
I knelt silently in prayer.
Again His gentle presence I felt:
Someone does care.