Lost sheep appear in Sacred Scripture during this season of Advent. It is an apt image of someone lost in the bog of alcohol. At once the alcoholic really doesn’t want to be found and, at the same time, he feels the loneliness of his existence. But it takes an awful lot to get him to grasp the hand for help.
As we long for the coming of The Lord of life in our time and place, we can find comfort in what Jesus says: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” [Matthew 18:12-13] This season is a special time where The Lord works powerfully to get the straying alcoholic back to real life. As Jesus continues to say in the Gospel of Matthew, “It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” [Matthew 18:14]
This injunction of The Lord also directs those of us in recovery to do our part in helping other poor souls who suffer our disease. It takes no more than a listening ear and a willing heart to be available to someone who is deep in addiction. Am I willing and available today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you call me by name today and desire to enter my life. You wish to share my joy and hope, my grief and sorrow. Calm my fears as I open myself to you and my suffering sisters and brothers. Speak your word down deep in the silence of my heart and never let me be parted from you. Gift me today with the abiding presence of your Holy Spirit and the love of the Father. Amen.
These thoughts offered by Brother Richard Hittle, S.J., a grateful 1980 graduate of Guest House and an employee since 2004.
Having moved into December month and deep winter, we find ourselves perhaps sleeping more and hiding out indoors. Even so, the liturgical calendar moves us into advent and thoughts of the coming once again of our Savior, Emmanuel – God with us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Directly the first assigned scripture passage counsels us to “stay awake therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.” [Matthew 24:42] This is an admonition precisely directed to us in recovery. That is, we must truly stay awake but also, be alert. We well know the creeping self-delusion that may slip in and overcome us with regard to our use of alcohol during the holiday season. It is, to be sure, a scary thought but also a most needed reminder that we must ALWAYS be on guard, always ALERT to slipping down that awful slope of active addiction.Read More
“Jesus glanced up and saw the rich putting their offerings into the treasury, and also a poor widow putting in two copper coins. At that He said: ‘I assure you, this poor widow has put in more than all the rest. They make contributions out of their surplus, but she from her want has given what she could not afford—every penny she had to live on.’” [Luke 21:1-4]
The lesson I take from this scripture passage assigned for today is not about economic security but rather of generosity and trust. This poor woman in her soul was moved to give everything she had to the temple. Her reward, I feel, was both a greater trust in her God and the joy that comes from unselfish giving for a greater good.Read More
“Once on being asked by the Pharisees when the reign of God would come, Jesus replied: You cannot tell by careful watching when the reign of God will come. Neither is it a matter of reporting that it is ‘here’ or ‘there.’ The reign of God is already in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21
In the program of AA we are counseled to live in the present and seek God in the present. Forgetting yesterday and its troubles as much as possible, we face a clean slate for today. What opportunities will present themselves for us? Will I be ready for what comes today? Well, if we place all of our faith and hope in God and His power, we will surely not fail. Whatever comes in our life today can be successfully and even joyfully handled by this dual relationship with God. Indeed we will find that, at the end of today, some things we have done or said have even surprised us. That is the power of the Spirit of God at work in us.Read More
Guest House is recognized as the premier provider of residential, behavioral health and addiction treatment services exclusively for Catholic clergy and religious. Today, Guest House announced that in 2014 it will consolidate all treatment to state-of-the-art, gender-specific facilities on its campus in Lake Orion, Michigan.
Upon completion of new construction, male clients (priests, deacons, seminarians and other religious) will be transferred from the Guest House Center in Rochester, Minnesota to be treated at Lake Orion on the modernized campus, featuring new clinical and residential facilities.
Denise Bertin-Epp, President and Chief Executive Officer of Guest House, announced the plan, “We continually provide innovative advancements in residential behavioral health treatment and after-care follow-up.
“Savings achieved by offering inpatient programs at a single Michigan campus,” she added, “will also help us to continue our tradition of never turning away a priest or religious in need of lifesaving treatment, regardless of their ability to cover the cost of their rehabilitation.”Read More
Within us is the desire for friendship but also resistance. The person in recovery needs friends, at least one soul mate who accompanies the person on life’s journey.
Today, the Feast of Luke, we encounter the only person who accompanied Paul in his missionary journeys and visited Paul when he was imprisoned. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul declares “Luke is the only one with me.” [2 Timothy 4:11]
We know the value of a true friend, one we can turn to at all times. A friend is there to listen, to console, to offer a word of advice. Through all our trials and hardships, a true friend remains loyal to us.Read More
“On one occasion a lawyer stood up to pose Jesus this problem: Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life? Jesus answered him: What is written in the law? How do you read it? He replied: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said: You have answered correctly. Do this and you shall live.” Luke 10:25-28Read More
October 4, 2013
Francis was born into a wealthy family. It is apparent also that he had that quality which many of us in recovery know about, namely, extremism. After spending the first part of his life in frivolous enjoyments he experienced war, captivity and sickness which sent his life on a new direction. Francis took to emptying his father’s warehouse and giving everything to the poor. Then he exchanged his fine clothing for poor clothing and undertook a new life. It was the course that set all of life into a new perspective.
We, too, have set our course on a new way of life. It has its challenges to be sure but it also gives us new freedom to act in a way we never envisioned. What are some of the “newness” items we find in our life today? Maybe an easier access to God? Maybe fewer difficulties with our relationships with family and friends? Perhaps new motivation to go out of our self to volunteer time and money to help the poor? Something as easy, and yet put off, as a long overdue telephone call to a person we have neglected. Each of us can come up with a list of things to do. Easy does it!Read More
Today’s word is taken from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 31-37 where The Lord is asked to heal a man who is deaf. The application to those of us who really need to hear a comforting word about recovering our life from a dreadful addiction is quite obvious. Yet, do we really want to hear a word of comfort and healing? An illustration about reluctance might be seen in this story told by Deacon Dick Folger.
“Grandpa was almost stone deaf. He finally went to the doctor to see if anything could be done about his condition. The doctor fitted him with a set of hearing aids that allowed him to hear like new. When Grandpa went back to the doctor for his monthly checkup, the doctor said, your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again. Grandpa replied, Oh no, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around the house and listen to their conversations. I’ve already changed my will three times!”Read More
Everyone was all smiles Thursday, September 12 when HealthQuest of Lake Orion presented a large check (literally and figuratively!) to Guest House at the Scripps Mansion. The check, in the amount of $7,000, was a portion of the proceeds from HealthQuest’s annual charity golf outing held during July in support of Guest House and another local non-profit. The donation will be used to support our Women’s Services. HealthQuest has provided physical therapy services to Guest House clients and many staff since the early 1990′s.
Pictured (left toright) are Patti Stowell, Nursing Supervisor at Guest House; Sr. Mary Ellen Merrick, Director of Women’s Services at Guest House; Dan Cady and Phil Krause, Co-owners of HealthQuest Lake Orion; Johanna Baartmans, HealthQuest Physical Therapy and Medical Fitness Marketing Manager; and, Denise Bertin-Epp, President and CEO of Guest House.
Reflection for September 13, 2013
The message today comes from The Lord in the Gospel of Luke:
“Jesus told his disciples a parable. Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:39-42
Jesus’ words here are dramatically comical with the image of a wooden beam in my eye. But, as in other of His teachings, He uses exaggeration in order to get His message across to us. In brief, what The Lord is telling me is “Look at yourself first” before attempting to straighten out anyone else. And this is a good message to dwell on today in recovery.Read More
As we enter into remembrance and renewal today, September 11, we offer this prayer poem created by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat on the afternoon of September 11, 2001.
Let us remember all those who met death today, all those whose lives were in any way impacted, all those who continue to grieve, all those who performed acts of incredible bravery. Let us remember also the many throughout our world who live with this level of violence and struggle to be people of peace each and every day. May our remembering, our praying, and our living lead us to a new world where all are welcome. May we all know peace.
August 28, 2013
“You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” This famous line from the pen of Augustine resonates in the heart of everyone, maybe most especially in the heart of those of us in recovery.
Augustine led a dissolute life before his conversion to Christianity. His life story in his “Confessions” bespeaks many of our own errant ways before getting into sobriety. It was only through the insistent prayer of Augustine’s mother, Monica, that he received the grace to turn his life around. How many of us had the same kind of mother who fretted over us, who expressed alarm at our waywardness and yet kept hope through prayer that we would “turn around.” I credit my own mother, Lord rest her soul, who interceded mightily for me after her death.
Yet now we realize that God and His Spirit was with us all the time, even in our darkest days and nights. We can now say, as Augustine did, “late have I loved You, O Beauty both so ancient and so new! And behold You were with me all the time.”
Today we make our own the Psalm of David, Ps 139:
You have searched me and you know me, Lord
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
From Your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;Read More
A Successful Summer Leadership Conference was held in Naperville, IL, July 15-17, 2013. Over 110 attendees from all over the country participated in this event, including many Bishops, Abbots, Provincials, Vicar for Clergy’s and Health Care Coordinators. Conference attendees participated in plenary sessions, breakout sessions, liturgies and sharing of concerns and ideas with one another. The information and resources gained during the Conference days helped to facilitate the very important leadership role those in attendance play in assisting Priest and Men Religious in need of behavioral health intervention, treatment, and support in their recovery from chronic addiction diseases.
Click Read More to see Photo’s, Testimonials and Archbishop Tobin’s moving presentation.Read More
I am very pleased to announce the opening of The Damascus Program, a compulsive eating treatment program for clergy and male religious at Guest House. The Damascus program is an effective way to get overweight and obese priests and male religious, back on the road to robust health and ministry.
Responding to many requests from leadership in dioceses and religious orders for a program to help men with significant over weight and obese issues the clinical staff has developed a holistic program of recovery.
Created by physicians and other healthcare professionals, and backed by extensive scientific data, this is a decision-free program that is widely recognized for successful outcomes. Each program offers a highly structured, easy-to-follow diet that emphasizes healthy eating habits and fast, long-lasting weight loss. It is ideal for anyone wanting to lose weight and become healthier, including those with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other medical conditions.Read More
In the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, all recovering alcoholics can find comfort. Indeed in Mary’s words we can fully embrace our new life and make our own the prayer of Mary.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For He has looked upon His lowly servant.”
This is the day to look and search within our heart. What blessings have I received from God in sobriety? What gifts, entirely free, have I been given? What new attitude and new spirit (zeal) have found a place in me so that I get along with others? What has surprised me when I’ve found myself doing something for others, sometimes a total stranger? These are a few leading questions you might ask yourself in private prayer today.
It strikes me that, in the throes of alcoholism, I needed most desperately the love and embrace of my mother. And I can say now that Mary was the one who wrapped me in her mantle and took me off the street to her son, Jesus. She was the one who presented me dirty and bruised to The Lord. She was the one who rejoiced with me upon my return to religious life. How about you and your eventual return to God’s fold?
This would be the day to praise and thank God for all He has given, through the intercession of Mary. It would also be a good day to actually sing your praises as you rejoice in God’s presence in your life.Read More
While in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis visited the Hospital of St. Francis of Assisi where drug addicts are treated and where he offered these addicts a very human embrace and a message of hope. Pope Francis called this hospital a “shrine of human suffering.”
For those of us in recovery from alcoholism, Pope Francis’ message has an exact parallel with our own disease. We realize that alcohol is as much a drug as crack cocaine. The road to recovery is the same whatever the drug addiction we have. And how do we “get on the journey” to recovery?
Pope Francis said to these addicts in Rio “dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on our journey, you have to want to stand up; this is the indispensable condition.”Read More
At Rio hospital, pope offers drug addicts an embrace and a challenge
By Francis X. Rocca|Catholic News Service
RIO DE JANEIRO — Pope Francis addressed a group of recovering drug addicts in a working-class neighborhood of Rio, offering them a message of compassion and hope as well as a call to self-determination.
At the Hospital of St. Francis of Assisi, which he called a “shrine of human suffering,” he told patients they were the “flesh of Christ,” like the leper embraced by the institution’s patron saint in a crucial step toward his conversion. He also said those struggling with drug dependency deserve the “closeness, affection and love” of all society.
Yet the pope also stressed the necessity of personal will in recovering from addiction. Click here to read full articleRead More
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” This is a scary step for some to take. Who of us wishes to uncover our bad side and bring all of this to the light? However, once we stop drinking alcohol we, in a real sense, wake up. Our evil side becomes apparent and troublesome. After all we now realize we have the disease of alcoholism and have only taken care of the alcohol consumption.
The “ism” remains and that is all the inappropriate behavior we are accustomed to. Essentially the “ism” equals the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. Now, upon reflection, we may not embody (or practice) all seven but there definitely are those which have become part and parcel of our daily living while drinking.
Having found our Higher Power, God, in doing steps two and three, it is best to turn to Him now, asking for guidance in our search to root out our faults, character defects and sinful habits. Only His spirit can penetrate our heart to see the truth of our conduct in the past, own and admit it, and then desire to do something about it. This is a big step in the right direction. One should not rush through it but do it thoroughly and carefully. The results will surprise you as nothing else can!Read More
We often hear “why do bad things happen to good people”? I suppose this query has been with humankind since the beginning of the world. Many people have puzzled over this question and many struggle with it today.
Specifically this is my response to why I, as a religious brother, have been given the disease of alcoholism.
I believe and further know that I was genetically disposed to alcoholism from birth. The disease is rampant on my mother’s side of the family. As many as six have died as a result of this disease. Once I found alcohol and started drinking, it activated my neural system and brain to demand more and more of the substance. Try as I did for years to cut back, there was, in truth, no cutting back. Accident after accident eventually took place as well as other devastating events in my life.
Fortunately for me, I was remanded to Guest House by my religious superior under the vow of obedience that I had taken. That turn in the road has made all the difference in my life. How so?Read More