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