Category Archives: alcoholism

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

What is Truth?

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Pilate’s response has been ringing in my head these days. I’ve been thinking about his response in relation to current events. The illusionist is working many angles from religion to politics to family relationships. I understand this is nothing new. But what seems different to me is the loss of respect in people’s attempt to defend their truth.

The lines of facts are skewed and there are many who use them to benefit a cause/point no matter if there is validity. If they believe them to be true, that’s all that matters. Reason or logic to a situation isn’t taken into consideration and what seems even worse is that people don’t care what that might mean to the person/persons it affects.

Credibility weakens when facts are skewed because the person/persons where respect was once given is thrown out the window too.  Seeing this more towards the Church.  The mocking and the not taking seriously the Church’s position to everyday moral questions by Catholics and Non Catholics. However, it is not just the Church authority that is suffering. There is a string of other high regard positions of people under attack as well. From school teachers, law enforcement, business leaders, medical professionals, pharmaceutical industry, political office, etc. Never have I felt credibility to not be important to possess, but it seems from recent events, accountability and respect are becoming blurred and the attempt by the devil is to make people lose sight of order and control.

The biggest example is from Church leaders. Certain clergy are still visible doing things that they shouldn’t be. The faithful, from my assertion, are moving on knowing there’s only so much they can do or put their time and energy into the fight. The visible results are slowing being seen. It’s not that nothing is being done, but it might appear to some it isn’t changing.  I feel all must share and care to inform others change will take time.

Now going back to the truth, if you don’t show honor to ones truth, then you must side with the opposition and therefore you’re the enemy. Sensitivity and boundaries seem to not work for everyone. If you’re not for them, you’re against them. People want you to not take away their ideals, but are not understanding that’s what they’re doing to you.  Some news line is fed out and people, without further researching, believe it. They never look past it and then begin using it as a weapon of defense on something that is not true.

There are countless sources out on the internet feeding people garbage that they believe in and end up falling in the trap. Untruths about the President, the Pope, government programs, crimes, etc. They tend to not go further into fact checking and become paralyzed with fear.  It’s awful and scary.  I truly believe that if they spent more time in their faith, practicing, their eyes would see what is truth and what are lies. I’m grateful Our Lord has me where I am, but I know I need to get deeper rooted.  I feel it for the sake of my own family.

The best I and others can do is help our brothers and sisters know what to focus on and where to take our fears. The world is changing fast and those around us may not see what their eyes are losing sight of.

Parts Truly Unknown

On Friday morning, I get a text at 6 a.m. from my friend Angela informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  She knew how much I liked him and knew this would be hard for me to hear. My husband was on his way out for work as I read out the text to him.  He said, “I know. I didn’t want to wake you up with that news.” But he knew, it wouldn’t matter how it came, the news was not good.

The rest of the day and now, I still feel a sense of sadness as I know I am not the only one. The media has continually been interviewing his friends, showing past Parts Unknown (his show on CNN), and my social media is covered with his face.  Mainly, because I follow many chefs. I have a big interest in the culinary scene due to Bourdain.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006 which came with much anxiety because of fear of travel, my craving for food and travel grew.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were not many travel shows other than Rick Steves and Samantha Brown.  Much to my delight, the Travel Channel gave us No Reservations where I first became acquainted with Bourdain’s witty culinary ways.  It right away captured for me an escape from my life in concrete Phoenix suburbia, track house living.

The trip to Italy placed a sense of adventure in me that I knew had to be somewhat contained. Let me preface here, my life is greatly blessed.  To date, my husband and I have traveled abroad two more times after our first Italy trip (London, Paris, Italy again). We travel within the States quite often.  However, I long for travel in the sense that I would like to discover it like Bourdain captured it.  Places not necessarily on the tourist map.

On Sunday’s, I would look forward to his latest episode.  Where was he now? Thailand. Croatia. Turkey. Sicily.  His demeanor was also a familiar connection to me.  He had a bad boy, rebellious nature. Reminded me of my youthful past and the group of friends I hung around with. His taste in music too was much like mine. A like of rock n roll and classics.  His wit also had me laughing as I was amused by how no matter whom he had in his show, he never changed himself to interact with them.  He had them laughing. Giving me a sense that no matter what part of the world you are in, we are all the same.

Once his show went from the Travel Network to CNN, I stayed with it.  I adapted a viewer relationship via his program.  This means about 12 years of fan watching.  And with social media, there became another connection.  It gave the fan a closer connection to his person who we all believed had the best job in the world. Travel and eat the best food. What could be better? He was the one who introduced me to taking pictures of food and share my experience of it.

He was also very vocal on Twitter about social issues.  One in particular had to with the Mexican immigrant and how interwoven their culinary skills are wrapped in America’s fabric.  Always pointing out that if we were to walk into any kitchen across the U.S., you would for sure find Mexicans working the kitchen, citizen or not.

Bourdain was not a believer.  Often on his show, he would give a tidbit on how he couldn’t rationalize believing in a higher power.  I don’t recall him ever pointing out one god over another or Jesus in particular, but he was clear he didn’t believe in any of it. Even when his close friend Eric Rippert was on his show speaking about Buddhism, you could see Bourdain wasn’t fully embracing.  Despite him not having faith, I never heard him bash anyone for believing.  But I know, it would strike him if he felt a religion was, in his view, destroying a people or nation.

So why do I dedicate a blog to him?

Bourdain’s suicide not only shook me, but it had my mind going.  I thought of my cousin Gil who committed suicide in 2010.  Thought of my Godmother who was married to him, his two sons, his family. All of us who went through that day with them. The feeling of life spiraling out of control. The big black hard depth of despair.  The confusion. The pain.

Here we all saw this man Bourdain on TV just about every week or on social media, seeming to live the life we all wanted. Celebration. Laughter. Good food and beautiful environments. But it wasn’t all true. I mean, did he have that?  Yes, I do believe he did. But he also had demons that wouldn’t let him go.

In his early life, he became addicted to heroin.  He spoke about the struggles of it and also shared how he was ‘recovered’, yet always conveying, recovery is day to day. Each day, he worked at it as many recovered addicts do.  I understand this well.  My Dad was a recovered addict. Difference was, my Dad found Jesus and lived his life with freedom from it.

However, from current family who is an addict, heroin is the worst of all drugs you could ever become addicted to.  This is one that has effects for the rest of your life. Now, that’s what I have heard scientifically, but I place all in God and know that if Jesus was in their life, it would be different. And you know, I’m no expert and I don’t want to go into heroin effects, mental illness, when is it not mental illness and we call it a demon, or lack of faith issues.  I don’t have expertise to discuss.

But what I do want to write about is the soul and how our faith responds to someone who has taken their life.

Because Bourdain was a self confessed non believer, my thought process on his passing made me think about the soul like I haven’t encountered before.  Some of his fans were leaving comments on Twitter or Instagram, saying things like “hope you have peace now in heaven or hell wherever you are’, or ‘give them hell’, etc.  I thought what darkness!

In my prayer time and reflection about Gil came forth. Thinking about his time of death and what we as a family learned. Although, Gil did believe in Jesus and was Catholic, family was confused on whether his soul went to heaven. And what I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church forever changed my outlook.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Bourdain stood up for the marginalized. He brought to light topics of the poor, no one else was touching in this form of media. He used his celebrity to bring witness, life that the world sees as dejected because they don’t live like we live.  But in reality showed more riches in their cooking or family members.   In a sense, we saw the Beatitude come to life “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  And he used that compassion, which I believe was placed in him by God. Even though, he never claim that. And it wasn’t always about the poor, but sharing stories of those living with wars around them.

In God’s mercy, we leave his soul and others who have taken their lives in such despair.  For we really do not know. I for one need to be aware to check on another.  From the one who we think has it all together to the one who looks like they are crumbling.

My food pics and travel will forever have root in Anthony Bourdain. For these I leave…

*******

Help us Lord to be more aware. Help us with courage to speak to those who do not show their belief in you Jesus, so that we may direct them to your love and mercy.  For we know as St. Peter says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Heaven is not out there only in the sky, but can by the grace of God, can be attained in the heart with true joy.  In how Your peace can allow them to breathe again. +++

Little Talks with God

Little Talks with God by St Catherine of Siena edited by Henry Carrigan Jr.

Any book about St Catherine of Siena will catch my attention.  I hope someday Mel Gibson will make a film about her.  Because I believe that many women will see her as a fireball of strength.  Talk about feminism in the truest sense of the form.  Her femininity was one of her many strengths our Lord used to make her one of our greatest Saints of the Church.

Littletalks

In Carrigan’s best description of St Catherine’s life is “mystical experiences with fervent activism”.

During her later years, she had a several priests write down her thoughts that were later put into books and shared with communities.  At a young age,  St. Catherine had a burning desire to know more about God and truth. This desire would change into fortitude that became spiritual lessons others to this day still learn from, like myself.

I learned much from this book.  I pretty much have each page ear dogged.  Self contemplation to the greatest degree.  Where to start and where to go in prayer, examination of conscience, courage, and faith in action to name a few.

img_6695.jpgSt. Catherine’s passion for Christ grew even more so when God showed her the needs of the world and the offenses being made against God.

St. Catherine had a selflessness that at times frightened me. She understood the punishment God could give and at the same time his limitless mercy.  She would rather suffer for those who had no clue of their sin because she knew it would be redemptive in the suffering so she spoke in prayer always to take that cup for their sake.

 

“How very pleasing to God is the willing desire to suffer for him.”

Through St Catherine’s writing, my life has learned the beauty in suffering. How I had no clue that there is purpose in suffering.   Used to think any physical or mental suffering was a kind of punishment by God. Learning more about suffering through St. Catherine, has taught me the meaning of it by explaining how it is redemptive, unifies us with Christ, offering it to Christ, and understanding His love for us.

Her writing takes you to a realm that no other writer has taken me.  I feel like I’m in another place even though I’m most likely sitting on the couch in my home.  The power in her words gives me a sense of heaven that truly gives me a connection I’m most grateful I am aware of now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drunks and Monks

I learned about this book by mention on the Jennifer Fulweiler’s show.   It caught my attention because it had to do with addiction and recovery.

Once I started reading it, I was hooked.  It’s a raw memoir from John Carmichael. He recounts his life from childhood through finding his way out of addiction by becoming a Catholic.  It struck a chord with me because I too came from an upbringing of alcoholism.

DrunksMonksIn his book, he speaks about his rise to a successful career, finding his wife, until he becomes an addict and destroys all around him. His Mom was a hard core alcoholic.  Morning, day, night. Even though he saw the reckoning, he could not find himself out of it.  Much of the effects of what would cause him to drink, did come from his relationship with his Mom and love not received by either of his parents.

He describes his environment in sunny So Cal – Orange county. The pull of the riches and struggle with letting go. I pictured well where his life took place because I’m so familiar with this area since I have visited these neck of the woods since I was a child.

One spot in particular is San Juan Capistrano Mission where he first begins his attempt in finding God. First taking back by the beauty of the Chapel where Mass is recited in Latin. Then his courage to reaching out to a monastic priest who then becomes his confessor.  And even though he made these strides he shares his very real battle working out his faith through temptation and relapse. What I appreciated is how the San Juan Capistrano community, supported him and invited him to the faith. An example for all parishes to follow.  He felt so welcomed, he even became a part of the choir.

Even though most understand, that even when one follows the Catholic Church punch card, it doesn’t mean that all will be easy going. In Carmichael’s case, the timing of his initial prep in the faith became his strength when his Mom’s struggle with alcoholism became its worst and then her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

His style of writing was as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Truly can understand his battles and his journey through faith.

If you like reads like I do like this, pick this book up!