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Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

Please note: This is a follow-up to the post titled “What We Can Learn From Drug Addicts and Alcoholics” — but it can be read on its own.

HeroinIf there is, or were ever to be, a theology of addiction, my guess is that it would follow an Augustinian anthropology.  Addressing God, St. Augustine of Hippo had this to say:

You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You

(Confessions, I:1)

“You have formed us for Yourself…”

Man’s soul is a vast cavern, bigger by far than anything in the created universe.  It is made for God as a lock is made for a key, an outlet for a plug, a certain kind of hat for a certain-shaped head, etc.  Any time we try to hook our infinite desire for God onto something less than God, inevitably it fails to satisfy.

Nevertheless, we do get some semblance of joy the first time we use or experience the object in question.  The more this initial feeling eludes us on subsequent occasions, the harder we will strive — and the more extreme measures we will take employ — to reproduce it. (more…)

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Red_Ribbon_WeekWe will be observing Red Ribbon Week in the U.S. in less than a week.  Let it be a sign of our fervent opposition of both drugs and the abuse of otherwise benign substances, as well as our commitment to honoring the law enforcement officials who have risked and given their lives in the fight.

HomelessBut at the same time, may the red ribbons also symbolize our solidarity with those who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions.  Why?  Because they are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, cousins…fellow flesh-and-blood human beings.  Hence we must remember, as the saying goes: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Most of us are not encumbered with illegal addictions, thank God.  But let’s face facts honestly.  How many of us will go shopping even when we know we don’t really need to?  How many of us spend umpteen hours a week watching mind-numbing TV programs even when it gets in the way of proper care for our bodily health, our personal and domestic responsibilities, and valuable family time?

How many of us will fill up our houses with various things we like to collect without ever using them?  How many of us eat and drink more than we need to, or eat/drink too much of the wrong things, even when we are aware of this habit’s incremental detrimentality to our health?

Lastly, as much as we may decry the drug-addicted son who steals money from his own mother’s purse to get his “fix,” how often are we willing, in subtle and small ways, to hurt the people we love in order to get what we want?

And so on down the line.

This leads us to an invaluable perspective.  Addiction, as we understand it, is merely an intensification, a heightening, of the condition from which we all suffer — namely (and to use a classic technical term), concupiscence, the disordering of the passions and their war against our reasoning powers.  And doubtless, our own wrongdoings have added to the great pool of “mass concupiscence” that floods humanity, making each of us in some mysterious manner partly responsible for the addictions of our alcoholic and so-called “junkie” brothers and sisters.

Therein lies the secret of what we may learn from these people: They know we are at war.  They, more than most of us, can sympathize with St. Paul when he says:

I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members

(Romans 7:23)

…and elsewhere:

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.

(Romans 7:19)

St. Francis_MeditationThe saints, in their arduous quest for holiness, have often gained a very keen sense of this condition within themselves, and of their (and our) complete helplessness and insufficiency apart from God’s grace.

So in short, saints and addicts know the fundamental truth of which the rest of us, for the most part, tend to be in denial (for which reason the devil can often do his work undetected).  This is, as it were, the anthropological aspect of addiction.  I think there is a theological element to be considered as well, and I will explore that next time.

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Acknowledgements

  1. “Lozano Red Ribbon Week”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lozano_Red_Ribbon_Week.jpg#/media/File:Lozano_Red_Ribbon_Week.jpg
  2. “SDF à Charleroi – 1” by Jmh2o – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SDF_%C3%A0_Charleroi_-_1.jpg#/media/File:SDF_%C3%A0_Charleroi_-_1.jpg
  3. “Francisco de Zurbarán 053” by Francisco de Zurbarán – http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/francisco-de-zurbaran-saint-francis-in-meditation/27646. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_053.jpg#/media/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_053.jpg

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