One of the blessing of my life is that I am allowed in my work and vocation to meet with a variety of different people each day and connect with them on a very personal basis.
They open up to me and tell me things about themselves that are usually hidden from everyone else.
I do realize that this is a gift, being allowed to see into the depths and inner workings of so many people each day. Although I am not really shocked by anything after almost 23 years of working with people, I do feel from time to time to be without answers.
Sometimes I just listen, and try to be a loving presence, but then I ponder.
As an example:
I met a man recently who really wants to change his life, he has had an experience from God and realizes that there is more to life than the life he has been living. He now wants to make huge changes in his life and to begin a relationship with God and grow in his faith.
HOWEVER - He has a serious problem with alcoholism and has had this problem for some time now. He must drink everyday just to keep from going into withdrawals. He feels that traditional recovery programs just don't work for him and feels at a loss, somewhat hopeless.
ADDICTION - Where do we really get help from addiction? It has become so prevalent in our lives. So many people have a problem with one sort of addiction or another:
Alcohol / Drugs
Work / Money / Status
I bet you can think of at least 5 people in your life who experience some form of addiction, and look at yourself, are you really free from addiction?
Why can some people free themselves from such a problem and others seem to be shackled to the unholy vice?
Does God play a part in these temptations , trials, torments? Is it the Devil? Or is it related to our free will? I really don't know the answer for sure.
I do know that many of the Saints have struggled with tortuous temptations and addictions that for some have lasted until their death. Why?
There must be something virtuous in battling these temptations and struggling with our weaknesses. Maybe it is a reminder that without God we are so weak, frail, and unable to function. Without God we quickly fall to nothingness.
On the top of my mind I know many GOOD people who struggle every day with temptations to:
Commit Adultery (either Actual or through fantasy and self pleasure)
Visit Internet Sex Sites
and although they know that doing this is sinful and wrong, they still tell me that they are tempted everyday.
I am often at a loss when trying to direct them. I usually tell them to "try to replace the temptation with some action that would help them grow closer to God. The more we can fill ourselves with God, the less likely that anything that is Anti-God (Sin) can enter us."
So how does a Catholic grow closer to God?
My first thought is to use the sacraments and to use them frequently.
1. Go to confession. Bring the hidden sinful actions out of darkness and into the light. Once exposed, it (sin) loses its power.
Go to confession regularly. Continue to keep your soul clean and pure. If you backslide and fall, Immediately call the priest and go to confession. Do not allow darkness to build within you.
2. Go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. Fill yourself with Jesus. Ask Jesus to absorb you, ask to become smaller and smaller in your own desires and to have Jesus become larger and larger within you. Do not live for your wants and desires, but rather to fulfill what Jesus desires of you.
3. Listen to God through the reading of the scriptures. God has revealed himself through the scriptures and especially through Jesus himself. Read the stories of the bible and the words of Jesus himself. Then contemplate those words. Listen to what they are saying to you in your heart. Apply the meaning of the scriptures to your life... Really act upon what you feel God telling you to do.
For most people, God speaks to us in the calmness and quiet of our hearts, in our conscience. Those little nudges, thoughts, pulling of your heart are actually God speaking to you. Listen and then respond. Decrease the noise in your life so you can hear God. Turn off the radio, TV, IPOD. Think and listen.
4. Begin some form of regular charity. Not giving money, but real charity. Engage in serving others. I feel that this is a crucial step in freeing yourself from self-centered addiction. The focus needs to be displaced from us and onto others. The elderly, the homeless, the poor, the widowed, the orphans, the imprisoned. There are many ways to help. Get involved, at least weekly.
5. Pray, Pray, Pray, and then listen. Prayer is not about just asking for help over and over again. It is about having a relationship and not only talking but listening.
The answer is always present in our Lord.
Seek and you shall find.
Ask and you shall receive.
Fill yourself with such Love, Compassion, Generosity, that there isn't any more room for self-centered vices.
I thank God for the struggles that I have not had to fight, and I thank God for the struggles that he is helping me fight.
There is growth in everything and in everything I can either see my Lord or see an absence of my Lord. I pray that you and I can continue to grow toward our God who is truly Love......