Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sober

First a plug for my fellow Sober Catholics:
Adrienne's Catholic Corner
Sober Catholic
Fallen Sparrow

I don't write many personal posts. I am a private person, but I saw a mention to Paulcaholic (author of Sober Catholic) on Adrienne's blog and remembered her series about the 12 Steps of AA and I was inspired to write. Longtime readers will notice this is considerably longer than most posts. Sorry, I tried to keep in mind as Laertes quipped that "[b]revity is the soul of wit."

As some of you might know, I don't drink. I mentioned it in passing once before on this blog. I made the conscious decision to stop drinking. I never went to meetings nor was I ever confronted by anyone about the problem. I decided one day that enough was enough.
Before I get much further let me just state that I have nothing against alcoholic drinks per se or against the people who drink them. For instance, I am happy for Bill and the Saint for their new found mutual appreciation of beer. Btw, Happy Birthday Bill! Not to mention that the Savior chose for His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to appear in the guise of wine. I believe that alcohol is not evil as it was created by the Lord, but what we do with it can easily become sinful.
I quit drinking once before in college after having blacked out. Its never good to have to have your friends tell you what an a@# you made of yourself. That lasted about six months and I was back at it.
Then after I graduated college and I had gone to the Pre-Theology program at Mt Angel. I think many parishioners would be scandalized to know how much some Seminarians drink. I didn't have a car so I didn't get out to bars and drink as much as some, but the socials that were held always enough and I wasn't shy about getting tipsy or worse. Most of the others were responsible but myself and a few others were not.
At a fancy dinner for something or other (we were always having nice dinners, so between them blurring together and my blurred memory I don't recall what it was for) I started out outside with about 4 or 5 glasses of wine and a beer. Then we went inside and kept going strong.
I'll just say about the events that followed that no one important found out and that I made a fool of myself. Of course this lead up to a RAGING hangover the next morning. I was so sick and hurting so bad that I skipped morning prayers and daily mass. I barely managed to get myself to class.
Everyone in class could see my color and tell that I was very ill. Most knew why.
Strangely, I didn't decide to quit then. But that night was the last time I drank. A few months later when I had left the Sem and I was making a Eucharistic Visit at a parish near my hometown, I remembered that I had quit before, realized again that I have a problem, and that I had promised as penance that I would swear off the stuff and I resolved to do it for good this time. I prayed for the Lord's help because I knew that I couldn't do it alone; I had already tried that.
The difference this time is definitely my wife. I met her about 2 or 3 months later and since I have known her she has always been VERY supportive of my resolution. No one actively supported me before, but she has since I have known her. There are many reasons why I thank God for her and this is one of them (not a small reason either).

When others ask me for a reason why I choose not to drink anymore, I always think of the Savior's words:
42 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: 43 Where there worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 44 And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: 45 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 46 And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: 47 Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.
Mark 42-47 Douay Rheims Translation

And as St Paul warns us in Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit"

4 comments:

Bill said...

Well said. I imagine that more than a few of us have been in your position, but rarely have the strength to see it through. I know I didn't. I was fortunate, that not long after college I developed an "allergy" to beer. One beer was enough to make me as sick as if I drank six or more. It lasted the better part of five years. Since then, I've never had the desire to drink more than a couple. However, I now realize how easy it is to lose that control. If only filling oneself with the Holy Spirit were as easy as pouring a draught.

Adrienne said...

Hey Bill - I have an alergy to beer, too. If I have one I break out in a drunk. LOL

Good for you Athanasius. It's been said already but "know thyself" is good advice...

No one ever died from lack of a "drink" (or sex either, for that matter)

Athanasius contra mundum said...

Adrienne, its good to see that you have a sense of humor about it. And its certainly true that no on ever died for lack of alcohol. I just wished more of us realized that.
Bill, it is scary just how easy it is (at least for me) to lose control. It would be rather convenient if the Holy Spirit filled as easily as beer fills the glass. I can just see someone "topping off" with the Holy Spirit from the draught. Although, the means for receiving the Holy Ghost are ever present.

paulcoholic said...

I agree. If only filling oneself with the Holy Spirit was as easy as tossing down a few shots of vodka or mugs of beer. That "hole in the soul" would be much easier to fill.