Drink This - Not That

In the Eastern Church this icon is referred to
as the "Theotokos of the Inexhaustible Cup"
When it comes to recovery from addiction, most people think of Alcoholic's Anonymous which was born in the 1930's.  From its 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 on the East Coast of the US.  In fact, Bill and Bob changed very little of the substance of those original programs.  They 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.  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. As the story goes, an Icon of the blessed Virgin appeared miraculously in a humble monastery in Serpoukhov. Many who simply gazed on this icon in faith were healed of their alcoholism immediately. The icon depicts the Mother of God presenting Christ to us in the Eucharistic Cup. She seems to be saying, "My child, drink this - not that!"

A worthy organization here in the US, consider supporting them!
What is the meaning of this?  It runs deep and many may have been miraculously healed from merely looking at this icon in faith. The rest of us who still struggle with addiction can tap into that healing stream in a slightly more measured fashion. No matter the rate of recovery, it is real for thousands of Russians and that healing has spread to other countries as well. That is why I have been a contributing member of the US chapter of the Fellowship of the Inexhaustible Cup for many years now. I believe in their mission!  Read the history of this movement for yourself here or go to the official US website for the Fellowship of Inexhaustible Cup to learn more.

Another worthy US organization to consider!
Another amazing movement sprang up in the late 1940's here in the US and continues to this day. It is called the Calix Society and it was formed to support Catholics who were already involved in AA as they deepened their sobriety with their faith tradition.  They used the same 'drink this - not that' motif that the Russian Orthodox Church used for their fellowship.  The Calix motto is 'Substituting the cup that sanctifies for the cup that stupefies'. It was 2021 before I finally stumbled upon this beautiful society and became a contributing member almost immediately. I believe in their mission too! 

It's hard to say no to your
Momma when she asks for
help, right? Why would Jesus
be any different?
Here is the encouraging thing about these two wonderful organizations: They both implore Our Blessed Mother to pray for for us in our distress. In my experience, Mommas like all their children to get along together. Who knows, maybe her prayers combined with ours will enable these two fellowships to be another little bridge of healing between the eastern and western Church. Our Momma is after all the most powerful woman in heaven and on earth because she has a Son who happens to also be God and He pays close attention to her requests. It's hard to say no to your Momma, especially when she always wants the best for all us crazy kids.

What does she want for us? She not only wants us to get along, but also to start feeding our God hunger with God Himself instead of a thousand ineffective and often toxic substitutes. Surely Our Lady has been praying for this repeatedly down through the centuries. 

The problem is, most of us cannot conceive that God could supply what we are craving so we turn to other sources. As many have expressed, "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".  

On the other hand, those of us in recovery have learned over time that God can be trusted and he wants to become our all in all.  One twelve step prayer essentially says "God, whatever it is I'm really longing for please help me find it in you"  (SA - White Book, pg. 165, part of a section entitled: "Recognize and feed your hunger for God").
An epic 'sit-down' hymn

I truly believe that human beings are born with a hunger 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 truly fill that hunger or quench that thirst in any lasting way.

At the same time I do believe that earthly things are meant to point us to ultimate heavenly realities.  Food and drink are all good and are meant to point us to our hunger and thirst for God... they are icons of a sort. But if I think they can ultimately satisfy me, it goes wrong sooner or later, they become idols.  And so it goes with any other drug of choice:  Sex, drugs, music, binge buying, etc.  We seem to forget that 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.

The Calix Society Motto
For some, calling on the Theotokos (Greek for 'Mother of God') to have compassion and pray for us may be unnerving. But even for such souls, 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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