By Father Bob Kraig This past Sunday, Sept. 18, I had the privilege of celebrating Mass with CALIX, a Catholic group of men and women who have been affected with the disease of alcoholism at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio in addition to having their family members present. Many of these men and women (many of whom were from Cleveland but others from various states throughout our country) have lived with the disease and have restored order to their lives with many being very successful in their occupations.
What a gift these men and women were to me. From the moment I stepped into the retreat house through the Eucharist, eating breakfast afterwards with some of them to my departure back to the parish for 12:00 noon mass there was a sense of joy, peace and God’s presence.
The thing that gives me so much reflection is the fact that these men and women are able to express their vulnerability, their weaknesses and messiness before God and each other. They don’t make excuses - they don’t feel sorry for themselves – they don’t look for someone to blame – they only know that their way to survival is to place oneself before a loving, compassionate, forgiving and merciful God and to connect with one another.
We often see people with addictions as failures; but are they the ones who know how to live? Do they teach us that in all of the things we encounter as challenging in life that without the help of a God who is always with us and family and friends that life becomes very difficult. They are able to express their vulnerability, their dependence on God and others and they knew when to reach out.
If only we would learn from them. We sometimes think we can handle our addictions and failings ourselves – but we know we can’t and in spite of that we continue to act like everything is just fine. We say I don’t need help! We continue to blame others – we continue to get down on ourselves and we draw into ourselves and isolate ourselves from others. And we all know that is so easy in today’s technological world.
We can easily get down for our failings. But as I shared with one of the men from CALIX on Sunday many of the great saints tell us that the closer they came to God the more they were tempted. Not only they but all of us face that in our journeys of faith.
May we always face our vulnerability, our messiness, our need for God and others and never be afraid to express that and seek help. Thank you to all I had the privilege of meeting at Jesuit Retreat house this past weekend. May God’s peace and blessings be with you always.