As someone who knows the terrible depths of addiction and fell away from the Church during my youth, today I am careful to remain as close as possible to Christ to maintain my recovery and live out my vocation as a sober Catholic wife and mother.
Below are two spiritual resources I rely on to maintain my recovery and stay close to the heart of God. If you’re not already incorporating them into your own spiritual life then I can’t encourage you enough to do so!
Recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
I have heard addicts describe themselves with the term “self-will run riot,” and that we often don’t like putting our faith into anything other than ourselves. We might not want to let our guard down and feel like we’re doing a good job protecting ourselves but this is a false sense of security. This is why the prayerful message of Divine Mercy—“Jesus, I trust in you!”—can be a life-changing leap of faith. It’s a prayer that allows God’s infinite mercy to pour into our lives.
The first time I heard the Chaplet of Divine Mercy I got “God” chills. It was after a daily Mass at one of our mission churches, and I could hear a woman reciting it. I felt her purity of heart as she did. Not knowing what it was, when I got home I searched online for some of the words I had heard. When I found it I started listening to it again and reciting it myself.
The Feast of Divine Mercy, or Divine Mercy Sunday, originated from The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, in which the Saint documented revelations given to her by Jesus. The devotion was greatly promoted and affirmed by Saint John Paul II. The first Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated on April 30, 2000, and it is held every year on the Sunday after Easter (learn more about how you can participate every year and receive Jesus’ incredible promises of mercy!).
As for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we are encouraged to recite it as often as we can, especially during the 3 pm hour (though we can certainly recite it anytime), which was the hour of Jesus’ death and therefore known as the hour of mercy. A book that really helped set this devotion on fire for me is The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: Now Is the Time of Mercy by Fr. Michael Gaitley.
I really believe that accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness is a crucial piece of our recovery. Forgiveness truly unlocks love for others and ourselves. When we were in the throes of addiction, we may have felt unworthy of God’s mercy. But we must remember that our God is a loving and merciful God—not a condemning one—and that He yearns to forgive and welcome us back into His love.
I once read a quote that “mercy is love that seeks to lessen the misery of others.” This is such a beautiful statement and reminds me of the 12th step of recovery. And it reminds me that our suffering, no matter how hard, is never pointless, especially when it allows us to help alleviate the pain of others with mercy.
I encourage you to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and learn more about this incredible devotion, as the more we open ourselves up to receive God’s mercy the more we’re able to share it with others.
Get to Know St. Thérèse of Lisieux
One amazing gift that comes with our sobriety is the ability to look back and see when and how God and His Saints have helped us throughout our lives. This has certainly been true for me with St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
St. Thérèse was a Carmelite nun who lived in a convent in Lisieux, France. She was only 24 years old when she died from tuberculosis. Yet, despite not living very long, she became one of the four female Doctors of the Church.
She once said she would “spend her time in heaven doing good on earth.” I truly believe that she (like so many other Saints) has interceded for me in countless ways, many of which I probably don’t even realize. My grandfather was a pillar to my getting sober, and I did not realize until years after his death that he and St. Thérèse actually shared the same birthday.
St Thérèse wrote an inspiring autobiography called Story of a Soul under the direction of her religious superior, Mother Agnes of Jesus, who also happened to be her biological sister. I would certainly encourage you to read it as one way to get to know her.
Another great way to deepen your relationship with this wonderful Saint is to sign up to receive emails from the Society of the Little Flower, which is an organization that helps foster a devotion to St. Thérèse. Every day I receive a prayer and a reflection on that day’s Mass readings. The reflection includes a short quote from St Thérèse herself.
One of my favorite insights from St. Thérèse is doing small things with great love. It’s a reminder that we can give honor to God through the routine tasks that make up our everyday lives. For example, when I do the dishes I try to remember that it’s a God-given privilege to have a family to do dishes for and to be grateful to have dirty dishes in the first place. With this in mind, nothing is too small for us to pour our love into. What an exciting way to live!
Another wonderful quote from her is that her “vocation is love.” This is a simple yet profound way to think of our individual vocations. A few years ago, my husband and I were discerning becoming a missionary family in Honduras. Although our intent was good and we were looking to dedicate our lives to God, at that time our marriage had not even been blessed by the Church. We did not realize it then, but we were not giving enough merit to how important the vocation of marriage and family life is.
We thought instead that we had to go on some radical assignment to love God and others. But we realized our faithful, sober commitment to each other and our children in our Catholic marriage can be a profound vocation of love. St. Thérès can remind us of this no matter our state in life.
If you don’t already have a relationship with her then I strongly encourage you to get to know and pray to this wonderful Carmelite Saint as much as you can. Trust me, the more you do the more you’ll be protected from the harms of addiction, and the more you’ll come to know the immeasurable love and mercy of our Lord!
Read Part 2 of this series for two more resources that our Catholic faith offers us for finding and maintaining recovery and healing.
Allison is sober from alcohol and a self-proclaimed “cradle convert” who has received a great deal of grace after coming back to her Catholic faith. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to be a sober Catholic wife and mother and loves nothing more than being with her family. She loves daily Mass and connecting with God outside through nature.