Drink This - Not That


Theotokos of the Inexhaustible Cup.  Mary the Mother of God presents her
Son Jesus in the Eucharistic Cup as if saying:
"My child, drink this, not that.  This will truly satisfy, that cannot."
When it comes to recovery from addiction, most people think of Alcoholic's Anonymous which was born in the 1930's.  From it's very foundation it was a spiritual program of recovery, calling on the God of one's understanding for help.  People from various religious and non-religous backgrounds have benefited from AA and it's many spin-offs.

What some do not realize is that AA was birthed from Anglican and Catholic Church programs in the Eastern United States.  In fact, Bill and Bob changed very little of the substance of those original programs, they only divided the steps a little more distinctly and after much debate, made the controversial but brilliant move of opening it up to anyone no matter their belief system or lack thereof.  So it would seem that God cares about all his kids, not just those that fill the pews of any given church on any given Sunday.

What is even less known is that over a half century before AA was born, God moved mightily and some would even claim miraculously in Russia to combat the alcoholism that ran rampant there.  The Russian Church depicts the Mother of God presenting Christ to us in the Eucharistic Cup.

What is the meaning of this?  It runs deep and though many thousands may have been miraculously healed from merely looking at this icon, (read the history for yourself here or go to the official US website for the Inexhaustible Cup) the rest of us who still struggle with addiction and vice can tap into that healing stream in a slightly more measured fashion.

As many have expressed it down through the years, if I am struggling with compulsive behaviors that I seem powerless to stop on my own, it is most likely because I cannot trust that God has something better than that which I'm addicted to.  Those of us in recovery have learned over time that God can be trusted and he wants to become our all in all.  The step two prayer itself essentially says "God, I know I don't need ________, whatever it is I'm really longing for please help me find it in you".

I now believe that human beings are created hungry to connect with the infinite, intimately forever.  Yet even knowing this, we still try to feed our God-hunger with temporal things.  The truth is, nothing here on earth was ever meant to even remotely fill that hunger or quench that thirst.

I further believe that earthly things were meant to point us to ultimate heavenly realities.  Food and drink are all good, but if I think they can satisfy me, it goes wrong sooner or later.  And so it goes with any other drug of choice:  Sex, illicit and licit drugs, music, binge buying, etc.  Only God can fill our infinite longings because only God is infinite.

So this little prayer card is shared because it has been a constant reminder of these truths to me, moment by moment.  Having passed through the Eastern Byzantine door at one point in my past, I became familiar with the beautiful epic hymn (called an Akathist, as in not standing because it is too lengthy!) in honor of this miraculous icon.  You can see the hymn in its entirety here.  Keep in mind that all the calling on the Theotokos (Greek for 'Mother of God') to have compassion and pray for us may unnerve some not accustomed to such verbiage.

Perhaps the takeaway could be this:  God cares about us so much and he never despises us in our time of need and desperation; think of the parable of the prodigal son.  Jesus cares and wants to feed us himself.  Jesus' Momma cares too and prays for us and like most Mommas, she doesn't let a little impurity or dirt bother her, in fact it only moves her to more compassion.

In fact, even though we killed her son, she still wants to adopt us as her own.  (Jn. 19:26-27)

Click here to download or listen to an abridged version of this prayer being intoned.

I have also taken the time to divide the entire Akathist hymn into seven daily segments.  Since there are 13 stanzas, Monday through Friday get two per day while Saturday and Sunday are allotted one.  Each day ends with the closing thirteenth stanza.  I have intoned this in my own natural E major sing song style because that is how I pray typically.  Similar intonations are common in the Eastern Byzantine Rite, not so much in the west.  If one person is blessed, it is worth sharing!  Blessings!

Click here to download or listen to the recording for Monday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Tuesday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Wednesday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Thursday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Friday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Saturday.
Click here to download or listen to the recording for Sunday.


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