We should be cautious of private revelations, and hence, in all the remarkable charisms given to Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (+ June 9th, 1837), it is the sanctity of her life that should stand out, her desire to suffer with Christ for souls. She was also given, almost unique in the annals of the saints, the gift of prophecy, of healing, of reading minds and hearts, including a mysterious, hovering ‘globe’ – sort of a mini-Sun, surrounded by a crown of thorns – in which she could see events across space and time, the travails, plots of men and societies.
One thing that I recall from a talk I heard on Bd. Taigi years ago was that it was revealed to her that a ‘mysterious black box’ would in the future be placed in every living room, through which Satan could enter and wreak insidious havoc in souls. Back then, what came to mind was, of course television, corruptive in its own way. Now, with the Internet, soon the inescapable ubiquity of the 5-G variety, we have the capacity, the temptation, of quite depraved iniquity entering into the most intimate aspects of our interior and exterior castles, for we now carry such ‘black boxes’ around everywhere we go.
That said, all technology, all media, may be turned to the good, even if some, such as ‘smart’ phones, incline all too many to some sort of evil, even if it be that of whittling away too much precious and irrevocable time. We must be sure that we control the technology, and it does not control us, which requires in today’s saturated culture more than a little tad of discipline.
It is with this in mind that we may reflect on this anniversary of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, when Dr. Bob Smith, a physician who had struggled for years with progressive addiction to alcohol, took his last drink on this day in 1935. One might ponder that it was a beer he downed to steady his hands – he was suffering from delirium tremens – so he could complete a delicate operation (he was a colo-rectal surgeon). Dr. Smith was sober until his death on November 16th, 1950, ironically from colon cancer.
I will not delve into the debate here on the various methods to ‘cure’ alcoholism – whether it can be cured is itself up for grabs, nor what sort of illness, disease or disorder it is, nor its complex aetiology. Most people are able, at least in theory, to control their use of alcohol by the virtue of temperance, which is not the same as the movement named after the cardinal virtue.
Yet Alcoholics Anonymous is rather firm on the principle that for those whom alcohol has consumed – to flip the tables on what should be the proper order – the only way out of the bottle is total abstinence, via reliance upon a ‘higher power’ and a strong support group, a method, a way of life really, that has worked for untold thousands of people, whose lives otherwise were and would have been train wrecks of varying degrees of tragedy.
But, like anything that may be turned to the good, and whatever other religions may say, there is nothing wrong with alcohol in itself, a gift from God ‘to cheer men’s hearts’, as Psalm 104 has it, but sometimes these gifts must be offered back to God in sacrifice, hopefully with a joy that transcends the natural order, a prelude of that happiness that never ends.