October 21, 2011 – Our Addictions

I was listening to one of the all-sports radio stations today and the broadcaster, who is a former assistant football coach, was talking about the sick feeling he had in his stomach this morning after the Cardinals loss Thursday night being similar to the feeling he had when one of his football teams would lose a game.  Now as you can tell by the size of my girth I rarely feel sick to my stomach, but I certainly have been obsessed with watching every move the Cardinals make.  I have been having to remind myself to make sure to keep up with the “important” stuff in between all of the games like, um, prayer, paying the bills, etc.  I was so joyful this week when my schedule of meetings worked around the games that I could hardly contain myself.  I’m not sure what this makes me – a dedicated fan, an obsessed fan, or someone with a true sickness?  Whatever the case, it had been a great ride for us Cardinal fans, and hopefully it will continue a bit longer.

All of the attention I have been paying to the Cardinals got me thinking about championships of the past.  The first Cardinal World Series that I experienced was in 1982, which ended in the birds winning the championship in 7 games.  The catcher on that team was Darrell Porter.  He did not have a good year offensively that year, hitting only .231.  But when the postseason came around he got hot, and he ended up being named the most valuable player of the league championship series as well as the World Series.  This was a nice story in itself, but what made the story even more satisfying was that he had battled a drug and alcohol addiction a few years before that and came back to be a pretty good player, and an even better person.  He did work for many charities, and was actively involved with his church and with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  You can go to the website www.darrellporter.com and read more about his career and life.

Unfortunately, he could not keep his addiction under control, and in 2002 he was found dead at the age of 50 from what was found to be the effects of cocaine use.  At first one might have the reaction of disappointment.  How could somebody who knew the effects of drug abuse from a prior experience start using again?  But when I read and remember more about his life, and remember all the good that he did for people and all of the people he probably influenced, the reaction turns to sadness.  This was a very good man who unfortunately had a powerful addiction that got the best of him in the end.

I’m sure most of us if not all of us have some type of addiction or temptation that we have had to fight at some point in our lives.  The obvious ones we think of are of course alcohol, drugs, smoking, junk food, etc.  But there are many other addictions as well.  I cannot imagine going through a day without firing up one of my 3 computers or my I-pod touch and checking out my favorite websites.  Or I can’t imagine having to miss one of these Cardinal games.  Are these as serious as the alcoholic who gets behind the wheel after a drinking binge, or the teenager who becomes hooked on illegal drugs?  Probably not.  But the premise is the same, and no matter what the addiction is, it doesn’t make us a bad person, it proves that we are imperfect human beings, and we need help and support not only from our God, but from each other as well.

God, as with any other hardship we face, provides us support and advice.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul tells us that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  No matter what the temptation or the addiction, God provides us a way out.  Of course, God is not going to pull us through the escape route – we have to take the necessary steps to make the escape ourselves, and once we have made the escape, we have to continue to work to avoid going back down the same path.  Again the key to this is to be open to support from not only our God, but from those close to us as well.  Those who have the gift of a group of people who look out for our best interests are blessed people indeed.  When Darrell Porter made the decision to tackle his addiction, it was a former player who had battled addiction himself who convinced him to seek help.  We need to look out for each other, and be able to show compassion toward one another while at the same time being brave enough to tell someone that they need help.  Pray for all those who are victimized by addiction that they are able to “escape” into the arms of God.

This past week we held our final meeting for the Parish Renewal and Restructuring process.  Overall the process went well.  It would have been ideal if more folks would have been willing to participate and to give us their feedback as to how we are doing in serving the needs of our parishioners.  However, we received good input from those who did participate, and though I’m still working on tabulating the results, I can tell you that in general most of the evaluations were positive, which I think is a tribute to all of us in the parish, particularly given the limited resources we have.  After the results are tabulated, a summary along with the evaluations will be submitted to the Diocese.  We also must still fill out a report for the school, and we must meet in our cluster of parishes, as well as continue to count the attendance at weekend Masses through the spring, so the process will continue for some time. 

Finally, for those who have been seeking to find that diet drink that tastes like those sugary drinks we love, the new Dr. Pepper 10 soda is pretty good stuff.  I think I may be becoming addicted (lol).  Have a great week.  Go Cardinals!  Release the squirrels!  Peace.

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