When I came into the rooms of recovery many years ago, I was told I had to “Trust God, Clean House, and Help Others.” In addition to the step work and building a relationship with God, I had to give the solution away to others and serve if I wanted to have a snowball’s chance in a hot place to stay sober. So, I got involved. I chaired meetings and filled service positions.
I have shared my story in AA speaker meetings many times. I always lead off my remarks by suggesting that listeners are probably wondering why someone with my time in recovery and position in life would be willing to stand up here and share so much personal information with a room full of strangers. There are two answers I give. The first is that I genuinely hope something I share will be of value to them. The second is that I do it to help keep me sober.
In my experience, being successful in Catholic in Recovery (CIR) is no different. Since becoming involved with CIR in the last couple of years, I’ve been attending online meetings (hopefully, there will soon be an in-person meeting in my area). I have also served by writing for CIR (like with this article, for example) and by co-chairing a Wednesday general recovery meeting online. I co-chair as opposed to chair that meeting because my life circumstances don’t enable me to commit to every Wednesday meeting. But co-chairing gives me the opportunity to collaborate with someone else and share our blessings in being of service to the CIR community.
I am blessed to be of service to CIR in this way. By facilitating and chairing meetings, I get to regularly welcome new people into the CIR fellowship. First-timers in recovery are commonly cautious, and I get the opportunity to greet them and make them feel welcome and included. Entering an entirely new group of people where you are being invited to share some level of vulnerability can be intimidating. I get to help ease some of this anxiety just as others did for me when I was welcomed into AA many years ago and into CIR more recently.
I’m also retired, and that means in theory I have lots of free time (though that’s not always the case for me). Aside from my regular involvement in AA 12-step recovery, committing to chairing CIR meetings puts an anchor in my schedule. It gives me the accountability to be of service, which enhances my discipleship formation.
While leading a CIR meeting is not on the list of “corporal acts of mercy,” it can be viewed as a “spiritual act of mercy” since I have the chance to spiritually “feed the hungry” and “give drink to the thirsty.” It’s not just about attending recovery meetings and being “fed” ourselves, whether through CIR or 12-step recovery meetings, but also doing service and giving back what we have received. Once we’ve enjoyed the gifts of recovery, we’re called to provide spiritual food and drink to nourish the souls of other recovering addicts. As our faith teaches, the more we serve the more we receive graces to help us in our own recovery and faith journey.
Bottom line, facilitating CIR meetings is an outstanding way to be of service to others. I guarantee it will enhance your own recovery and faith. After all, isn’t that why we participate in CIR?
By the grace of God, Kevin Spalding has been sober since July 30, 2000, and is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Catholic in Recovery. He is a retired Naval officer, married empty-nester, audiobook narrator, and pro bono financial counselor with Compass Catholic Ministries.