"Ladder To Recovery, 12 Steps To Progress"
This website has been inspired by St. Raphael and the story in the Old Testament Book Tobit


Eliminating Causes of Error: Practical Spiritual Answers

"Error is error and truth is truth, and never the two shall meet."

Some Ideas About the Spiritual Nature of Addictions, Afflictions and Adversities

While not entering into the great debate of whether an addiction is a disease or a sin, regarding the spiritual life, it is both. In the spiritual life a disease is a sin. The root of the word 'sin' means in part, to be lacking something, to be missing something, to be without something. Most people addicted to something lack the ability to abstain from it: alcohol, drugs, medication, food, sex, gambling, emotional outbursts, etc. Those who struggle with anger, may lack the ability to remain calm, meek and patient under normal circumstances, much less under pressure, stress or extraordinary circumstances. With greed: money, possession and hoarding issues, some people lack the ability to be non-possessive and honest, much less generous and charitable. With laziness, people lack is the ability to be industrious, diligent and self-sacrificing. With envy, people lack the ability to be kind, gentle, well-intended or give another the benefit of the doubt. With pride, the lack is the ability to be gentle, meek and humble of heart, much less honest and charitable. Those who struggle with lust, lack the ability to be chaste and faithful; those who struggle with alcohol, drugs, food and drink (gluttony), the ability to abstain. In each and every case, the person lacks the will power to stop and stay stopped from their drug of choice. 

The Practical Spiritual Answer to Addiction is found in practicing their Opposites

1. From Gluttony to Abstention (Stopping)

The essential solution to all addictions is to abstain, to stop and stay stopped. Simple yes, but not always or even typically easy. In order to stop taking alcohol, drugs, certain foods, engaging in sexual activity, gambling, emotional outbursts, etc., one must first abstain from it; then, from the people, places and things that promote, enhance or feed their addiction ('enablers' and 'near occasions'). Then, one must abstain from the thoughts, phantasms (day dreams), images, cravings and burning desires that seem to arise either from within oneself, or from visual stimulus, that suggest continuing the addiction or addictive behavior in any way, shape or form. For instance, if you have glutted yourself with a particular thing, say alcohol, the only way to 'un-glut' yourself is to abstain, to stop. Then, in order to stay stopped, you must not go near any person, place or thing that will encourage or incite you to drink, to pick up again. Then, you must fight and resist all interior thoughts, images, phantasms (day dreams), words, cravings, burning desires and outside stimulants that encourage or try to seduce you to drink again.  "Stay sober and alert. Your enemy, the devil, is seeking about like a roaring lion, trying to destroy you." (1 Peter 5:8) So, the opposite of gluttony is abstention, practiced one day at a time, down to one moment at a time, whenever we are called upon to do battle, - whenever we are attacked.

For this disease is "cunning, baffling, powerful, patient and persistent" and wants us dead. This is also a very good description of Satan, who also wants us dead. So, "do not be afraid." Though unseen themselves, demons can look at the face of our soul. If they see we are changed by fear, they take up arms (thoughts and images) against us all the more intensely and fiercely. For these cunning creatures have observed that we are scared. So, do battle against them humbly and courageously. "Fight the good fight of  faith." (1 Tim.6:12) For they will not remain on the battlefield (of your mind and soul) with a resolute fighter.

2. From Lust to Chastity and Fidelity(Stopping)

Spiritual addiction to lust can take many, many different forms: any and all types of sexual activity, pornography, wandering eyes or merely lustful glances. Any thought, image, word or deed intended to solicit, obtain or increase sexual activity from oneself or others for self-pleasure is lust. Again, the only solution is to abstain, to stop, to become chaste. If one is addicted to a particular sexual behavior, first you need to stop doing it.Then stop going to or surrounding yourself with persons, places or things that promote your particular sexual desire, or any sexual desire ('enablers' and 'near occasions'). Then, you need to fight the thoughts, phantasms, images and words in your mind that suggest and promote doing it. Rouse yourself up, be careful, watchful and on guard at all times. As Job said, "I made an agreement with my eyes: I will not glance, or even think upon a maiden." (Jb.31:1) So, the opposite of lust is practicing chastity (abstention), no matter what. So, divert your eyes the instant you think you are being tempted. Remember, Satan, although "cunning, baffling, powerful, patient and persistent" is basically a coward. He will not stay and fight with a humble, courageous, resolute fighter.

3. From Anger to Patience, to Resolute Calm and Interior Peace

For those prone to anger, and aren't we all to one degree or another, the solution is to teach oneself to practice patience by immediately mentally choosing not to get angry -no matter what-  at any person, place thing or situation that may make one angry, no matter what the disturbance. No exceptions. Catch yourself and hold yourself very accountable. Remember, no exceptions. Start with the 24 hours that are now upon you. Make a note in your book every time throughout this very day that you get angry -and why. Then, write it down. At the end of the day, add up every time you got angry. Do the same for the next day, and the next. Then, begin to compare your first day with latter days. Is there an increase or decrease? Make notes, catch yourself and stir yourself up not to get angry anymore, no matter what. Then, compare one week with the next. How are you performing? At the end of each day, ask God's help to become better. Ask Him to forgive you every time you fell (got angry, impatient, disturbed or annoyed, no matter how minimally).  Then, ask His help in forgiving anybody you remain angry at, no what what the reason, justified or not. Anger can be a great stumbling block or stepping stone on the Ladder to Recovery. The choice is yours, in every moment. "Today, this very moment, I give you the choice between life and death, between prosperity and adversity, between blessings and a curse, ...at every moment of every day." (Dt.30:15,19)

4. From Greed to Non-possessiveness and Charity

"The Love of money is the root of all evil." (2 Tim.6:10) Perhaps no where else is God's love so misunderstood. Obviously, we all need money to live, support ourselves, our families, etc. It is when the love for money out weighs the love of God in one's heart of hearts that blindness (sin) creeps in. While everybody needs to have a real concern for supporting themselves and their loved ones, greed; making money, can easily become the primary goal in one's life. With regard to any financial decision one has to make, as soon as we put our selfish concerns, even if legitimate financial ones, in front of God's, then we've crossed the spiritual line, from intending true good to intending selfish and therefore possibly even bad and certainly poor choices for ourselves and loved ones. Whenever we allow our selfish concerns to outweigh the reality of God's commandments and His truth, insofar as we are able to be clear about it, and choose solely based upon what is good for us, and not what is right -given our understanding of God, we begin to slip, even if we don't think so. It is a line sometimes very difficult to see. But, it is based upon one's degree of really trusting in God first. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, then everything else will be added unto you." (Mt.6:33) "For your Heavenly Father, knows very well, you need all these other things besides." (Mt.6:32) So, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and rely not upon your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths." (Prov.3:5-6) Finally, be charitable and give to those in need. For "charity covers a multitude of sins." (1 Pet.4:8)

5. From Laziness to Industriousness, Diligence and Self-sacrificing.

Some suffer from spiritual laziness, also called sloth. It is the lack of desire to "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Tim. 6:12) It is to become indifferent toward one's Recovery, Salvation and to God. It is to get a bad case of the "I don't want to," the "I don't care," the "it doesn't matter," the "hurry ups," the "rush jobs" to the "why bother?" attitude or approach toward recovery, salvation and God, as well as many other things in life. Job said, "Is not man's life on earth a spiritual warfare?" (Jb. 7:1) The spiritual life is like a great endurance contest for athletes. All human beings are spiritual athletes and prayer warriors. Each and every day, we only have a daily reprieve based upon the maintenance of a humble and courageous spiritual condition under God. He sees everything we think, say and do; every mummer we mutter under our breath, every calculation we make for good or evil even before we calculate; and every thought or idea we have, even before its reaches our conscious mind. So, it's best to put our best foot forward, and take a step closer to Him, realizing His eyes are upon us, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. "The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him." (Ps38:13) "The eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun." (Sir.23:9) "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, watching for good and for evil." (Prov.15:3) So, to practice the opposite of laziness and sloth is to practice a conscious awareness of His Presence, and work hard through industriousness, diligence and self-sacrifice on the spiritual battles presented to you. Unless you stand firm in your Recovery, you shall not remain firm. If you don't stand for your Recovery, you will fall for anything.

6. From Envy to Kindness

Envy is to willfully feel sorrow, anger, distress, hatred, pain, misery or resentment towards another merely because of their natural endowments, excellence, spiritual blessings, gifts, success, good fortune or prosperity of any kind.  It implies one considers oneself somehow  deprived of what one envies in another, even to the point that one feels an injustice has been done (Pharisaical self-righteousness). Essential to envy is this sense of deprivation or lack. Examples might be one woman becomes envious of another because she thinks she is better looking than her, or has more to offer a potential mate. The same is true with men. Or, one might be envious of another just because they "have one more fig than you." This 'fig' can be a bigger house, a better car, a nicer neighborhood, more money, better looks, richer parents, better skills, better job, higher status; etc. -more or better of just about anything, and so on. The greatest example of envy is Satan. He became envious of God having greater spiritual gifts than him. In an instant, he fell from the highest heights: Our Lord said, "I saw Satan fall like lightening from the sky." (Lk.10:18). The gravest type of envy is to resent the supernatural graces God has bestowed on another, to envy another's sanctity. The opposite of envy is to experience true happiness and even rejoice over another's good fortune, prosperity or gifts.  The truth is we have received nothing which is our own. "For, what have you that you did not receive?" (1Cor.4:7) We did not make our looks, our body, our intellect, memory, our capacity and skills, nor pick our lineage, background and financial inheritance, or lack thereof. So, why be envious if God has given more or better of certain qualities to another. Actually, they may have a more difficult time finding Recovery or Salvation, because pride in their greater gifts could block them from discovering their Recovery. "The more you have, the more will be required of you." (Lk.12:48). While some are more diligent than others in making the most of their assets, it is a two edged sword. Be thankful to God for all He has given you, even the very breathe of life itself, down to your existence at this very moment in time. And, be thankful for all the good things He has given everybody else as well. Pray for this, -even if you don't feel like doing it, or are indifferent towards your neighbor-, and you can, quite naturally, become more kind and gentle.

For those just beginning on the Ladder to Recovery, it is good to say "God Bless so-and-so," to anybody you are mad with, angry at or envious of; even if you don't feel that way, or even really mean it. Then, ask God to "give you the desire to have the desire to really mean it," even when you don't feel like asking Him. "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened up to you."  (Mt.7:7. Mt. 22:22. & Lk.11:9)

7. From Pride to Humility

Nothing else is so spiritually blinding and binding as pride. Pride is the putting forth of one's own judgments and attitudes above and before God's. Take the person who says they believe in God, but live His commandments on an a la carte basis. He says, 'I don't' agree with the sixth commandment, so I won't obey that one. But the rest of the commandments I will obey.' The sixth commandment says "You shall not commit adultery:" You shall not commit any sexual act outside marriage. And if you are not married, you shall not commit ANY sexual with yourself or others. First, you automatically break the ninth commandment which says You shall not covet (desire) your neighbor's wife." The ninth commandment tells us "not to even think about committing adultery." The less we think about it, the less likely we'll desire, much less engage in the illicit behavior. God didn't give us His commandments to make us unhappy. On the contrary, He gave them to us for our true happiness, dumb, stupid creatures that we are. Ask anybody who has had any form adultery committed against them, even unwittingly. Ask them if their marriage is better because their spouse betrayed them. So, the opposite of pride is humility: humbly obeying, accepting, and very much practicing what God teaches first and foremost, no matter what the perceived cost.

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