November 27: St. Maximus, Bishop

The saints are models for our lives.  By reflecting on their stories, we grow in sanctity and improve in various aspects.

ST. MAXIMUS was born in Provence, France.  From his earliest years he gave evidence of more than ordinary virtue.  After living a saintly life in the world for some years, he finally retired to the famous monastery of Lerins, where he was kindly received by St. Honoratus, by whom it was governed.  When the latter had become Archbishop of Aries in 426, St. Maximus was chosen second Abbot of Lerins.

The reputation of his sanctity drew crowds to the island, and the monastery prospered under it about seven years when the See of Reiz in Provence became vacant.  Finding that he was wanted to fill it, he fled to the coast of Italy; but he was overtaken, brought back, and forced to accept the new dignity.  In this position, he continued to wear a hair shirt and to observe the monastic rule insofar as his duties allowed.

He assisted at the Council of Riez in 439, the first held in Orange in 441, and at that of Aries in 454.  He died before the year 462.

PRAYER  Almighty and ever-living God, You willed to make Bishop St. Maximus rule over Your people.  Grant by his interceding merits that we may receive the grace of Your mercy.  Amen.

From Lives of the Saints No. 870/22.

“he was overtaken, brought back, and forced to accept the new dignity.”

What a way to put it!  How would we feel if we were given a promotion at work that we really didn’t want, quit our job, moved to another city, only to be brought back and forced to work!  Many of us would resent it.  Most of us would resent it.  St. Maximus was human, so he probably resented it too, until he learned and accepted that he was doing what God willed for him to do.

Here is the key difference between the saint and everyone else: the saint puts aside his resentments for the greater glory of God!

Our stories aren’t as far from St. Maximus as you may think.  Substitute his bishopric with the program.  After I entered the program, I ran from it until God Himself dragged me back to it.  On surrendering to His will for my life, I have learned a new freedom and a new dignity!

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If physical diseases were treated like mental illness… (meme)

illness

If physical diseases were treated like mental illness…

To a person sick in bed: “I get that you have food poising and all, but you have to at least make an effort.”

To a woman whose hand is cut off: “You just need to change your frame of mind. Then you’ll feel better.”

To a woman vomiting: “Have you tried… you know… not having the flu?”

To a man injecting himself with insulin: “I don’t think it’s healthy that you have to take medication every day just to feel normal.  Don’t you worry that it’s changing you from who you really are?”

To a man with serious abdomen wound: “It’s like you’re not even trying.”

To a person lying in a hospital bed: “Well, lying in bed obviously isn’t helping you.  You need to try something else.”

Obtained from Reddit.

Own up

Humans have a tendency to want to cover up their mistakes like a cat leaving the litter box.  I say humans because this is not a trait exclusive among addicts, though addicts, especially sex addicts, seem to be the experts at this.  Like the “Private Browsing” feature?  Thank a sex addict who couldn’t remember to clear the history.

Just like the cat, however, when we try to cover  up our mistakes, we’re not fooling anyone.  When we ourselves are wronged, often the most frustrating part is that the other person wouldn’t just up own up to his actions.

It’s a common theme in twelve-step meetings to hear someone admit that the truth would have been easier; there was no benefit to lying, but lying became the normal thing to do.  It’s a habit that’s deleterious on our relationships.

Own up to your actions.  If you make a mistake, be it in your personal or professional life, admit to it.  Face the consequences.  The internet’s way of saying this is TIFU: “Today I F-ed up.”

TIFU at work.  Ten thousand excuses went through my head.  What should I say? What should I do?  In the end, I simply stated, “I messed up.”  I didn’t give an excuse.  I didn’t rationalize my actions.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply owned up and confessed my mistake.

This vulnerability is frightening because we don’t want to face the consequences.  But we will face them regardless.  Lying only increases the consequences.  Remember, too, that people in general lie so much that the other person almost always expects a fight.  It often disarms them to let your guard down and admit your mistake.

Do we need to work the steps in numerical order?

Q: It seems to me that the steps to should be worked in numerical order, but I know of others who jump around.  Which is the correct way to work the steps?

A: Regardless of the fellowship you’re in, the “correct” way to work the steps is with your sponsor.  You should find a person who is relatable and is someone you can work with.  This doesn’t mean it should be your best friend.  You need a sponsor who will push you and call you out on your bullshit from time to time.

Every sponsor has a different style.  Typically, sponsors tend to work the steps with their sponsees in the same way their sponsor taught them, combined with various things they’ve learned along the way, either from fellow addicts or trial and error.

Some sponsors are radically different from others.  It’s OK to “fire” your sponsor if you don’t like him or her.  It’s OK to find someone else.  This is especially true when sponsors are controlling and tell you that there way is the only way that works.  The unfortunate reality is that some sponsors would make good cult leaders.  Your Higher Power is God, not your sponsor.  Don’t replace God with your sponsor.

Specifically to your question, I feel the steps are in the order they are for a reason.  Start with Step One, end with Step Twelve.  This does not mean, however, that the steps should be worked strictly from 1 – 12.  In many cases, it would be wrong to say, “I can’t make amends to you because I’m only on step one.”  This is especially true for a “Step Ten” mistake — where you have a quick turnaround on making amends to a recent wrong.  Step Nine is more for the amends while you were acting out (eg. cheating on wife, neglecting kids to go to strip clubs), whereas Step Ten is focused on continual amends (eg, “I’m sorry I yelled at you this morning.”)

Likewise, at the time of writing this I am still working on Steps Six and Seven, but I’ve had to go back and work Steps One – Five, at least in an informal way, when I start to rely too much on myself rather than God.  The steps are linear, but they’re also cyclical.  You work them, but then you keep working them.

TL;DR: In short, work the steps in order with your sponsor, but don’t be so rigid that you end up hurting yourself or others.

Advice from confessors

The confessional is the tool that Christ gave us to obtain forgiveness of our sins.  It is not a miracle clinic.  Going to confession gives us a new beginning and a clean slate, but it doesn’t remove all of our inclination toward sin.  We didn’t become addicts in a day, so don’t expect to recover in a day.

That being said, I would like to share the good advice I’ve received from confessors over the years:

When preparing for confession

  • Begin with a prayer that God will enlighten your heart and mind.  These can be found in most general prayer books, missals, and misalettes.
  • Examine your conscience.  There are many good ones online, but if these are not available, run through the Ten Commandments in your head.
  • Be on time or early.  If the scheduled confessional time is 5:00 – 6:00, don’t show up at 5:45, or even 5:15.  Show up at 5:00 or 4:45.  If there’s a long line, you may not have your confession heard before father has to vest for Mass.  If there is no line, and father has been waiting alone for 15 minutes or more, he may assume that no one is coming and take care of other duties.  Emergencies also arise.  Be respectful of the priest’s schedule and needs.

When in confession

  • List all your mortal sins, in kind and number (it makes a difference if you did something once over a month versus daily)
  • Don’t list your tendencies, just your sins.
  • Don’t explain why you did it, just say what you did.  You can’t shock the priest.  Don’t try to rationalize your sins.
  • Keep your voice down.  People outside the confessional are not bound by the seal.
  • Have an act of contrition in front of you, or have one memorized.
  • Do the penance that’s assigned.  If the penance is vague (“think happy thoughts”) or indefinite (“pray the rosary daily for the rest of your life”) or time constrained (“Mass starts in 5 minutes. Pray 100 Hail Marys before then.”), ask for a difference penance.

To avoid sin in the future (particularly sexual sins)

  • Pray the Rosary daily
  • Pray three Hail Marys for purity when you wake up in the morning
  • Devote at least 15 minutes a day for prayerful reading of scripture.  Start with the daily Mass readings (Extraordinary FormOrdinary Form)
  • Fast.  All Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday are days of abstinence from meat.  In most countries, Fridays outside of Lent are optional abstinence days, but you are supposed to replace it with some other penance.
  • For sexual sins, it is good to deny some physical pleasure.  This makes fasting from meat on Fridays (and other days) a good option.
  • From time-to-time, deny your body some other physical pleasure.  It can be small things like foregoing dessert or taking a cold shower.
  • End your day by reflecting on the good and the bad you’ve done.  Ask God for forgiveness, thank God for any blessings, and petition God for grace for the next day.
  • Go to confession whenever you need to, but the “best practice” is to go at least once a month.

Go to confession!

 

Some time ago we had occasion to come face to face with a striking example of spiritual pride.  One of the members of [an A.A. group] was condemning certain ones for their failure to do what he thought they ought to do.  Then, “Take me for example, I go to Communion every morning, I teach my children Catechism — in fact I have arrived at a point where anything I make up my mind to do I can do it.” Strewing incense at his own shrine.  Stupidly glorifying himself.  The sequel? He’s still drunk.

-Fr. John Doe (aka Fr. Ralph Pfau)

Quoted from: