Twelve Steps

I yesterday’s post I promised I would say more today about God’s ability to answer our prayers that seem counter to what we expect.  The best example I know of is the famous Twelve Step Program of the various anonymous groups; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and others.

These programs all have twelve steps and the steps must be done in order for the person to be successful.  Millions of people have been cured of their addictions through following the twelve steps.

These are spiritual programs though they are not religious programs.  However, anyone who has been a Catholic for any length of time will recognize our Catholic ideas throughout.

The first three streps of the twelve go like this (from the book Alcoholics Anonymous):

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Notice that you don’t get very far before you are asked to turn your life and will over to God.  Accommodation is made to the agnostic and the atheist by the words “as we understood him”.  God is referred to as a “higher power.”

God will be referred to frequently but the word “alcohol” is only mentioned in Step 1.   The rest of the steps involve “cleaning up our act” or learning to live a better life including step twelve which calls on the recovering alcoholic (addict, overeater) to help others.

That’s the real key to the whole thing.  By helping others the addict helps himself (of herself).

I don’t have space here to give you an in-depth examination of the twelve steps but I think, since this is a Catholic blog, that it’s worth mentioning steps 4 and 5.

4.  Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.
5.   Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Sounds a lot like examination of conscience and confession, doesn’t it.  I’m just sayin’.


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