The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. "It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins."
During my pagan life, whenever I was sober (which wasn't too often), I often felt as though I was missing something I could not name. When I got sober, I realized that what I had been missing was God.
However, what I learned pretty quick was that a generic God was not going to do the trick in terms of giving me back the integrity I had lost through my alcoholism. That disordered appetite had robbed me of myself but simply taking alcohol and drugs out of the picture was not going to be enough. Neither was sitting in a meeting and talking about God - some vague concept that could be categorized as "loving and merciful". I came to, I came to believe and then I came to realize that while it was God that restored me to sanity the God of my understanding has more depth and weight that the God being described by my fellow sufferers. The God of my understanding truly loves me. He loves me enough to stand back and let me do whatever I want without approving of it.
I am not, trust me, putting other people's concept of God down. If anything, I was both perturbed and a bit jealous. The people I met in the rooms of my 12 step program seemed to be able to do whatever they felt was right without any real consequences. The God they described loved them so much that He (or She) completely co-signed their Bulls*@t and so they slept around, they 13th stepped newcomers, they gossiped behind each others' back and they learned just enough about the traditions of the fellowship to be able to declare righteously that other people were breaking those traditions.
Of course the rotten apples turned out to be a really small number out of the entire orchard. I didn't know that at the time. I was new. I was vulnerable. I wanted so desperately to get and stay sober and when it turned out that the people in my surroundings had feet of clay I was a little shocked. Luckily, however, I fell in with a strong sponsor who taught me some invaluable lessons:
1. The name of the organization is not Well-Adjusted People Anonymous
2. If you sober up a drunken horse thief, what you have is a sober horse thief.
3. How many horses did you steal before you got here, Missy?
It wasn't long before the wonderful gift of sobriety began to lack something - something tangible and necessary for my salvation. As I read the literature, what kept jumping out at me was the urging of our founders to be quick to see where religious people were right and to find the grace in our own religion. Nowhere did it say, "Leave the Church behind. You no longer need it. God loves you and a meeting on Sunday morning is just as good as going to Mass".
At approximately two years of sobriety I made a call to my former pastor. Not only did he remember me (despite the fact that he was 90 and I had disappeared for about 17 years), he had another member of The Church contact me. That man, Ed R., was a faithful Catholic, Irish as the day is long and a 45 year sober member of the same 12 Step group to which I now claimed membership.
In other words, old Monsignor James Wade of Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill knew I needed to talk to another drunk. I did. The rest is history.
What I know today is my relationship with Christ is not just a 'Jesus and Me' proposition. My relationship with Christ depends upon my relationship with the Body of Christ. He is the Bridegroom, the Priest, the New Adam. As a member of the Church HE founded, I am fulfilling my part of the deal. I am being the woman I was meant to be and I am doing it despite political pressure, despite the incredibly narcissistic culture that tells me I am allowing old white men to push me around, despite Muslim fanatics who want to cut my head off and despite my own fears that you won't like me because I embrace the Catholic Faith.
Today I am a Catholic in good standing, which means I need regular Sacramental graces received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and The Eucharist. I am a Catholic even when people within my own Church don't like my politics or my world view. I am a Catholic when I am scared, when I am lonely, when I am surrounded by friends and family.
I am a Catholic. I am not ashamed.