the addict’s rosary

There is no addict’s rosary, but praying the sorrowful mysteries often reminds me of powerlessness. One of the first things an addict in recovery does is admit powerlessness. I don’t like it any more now than I did when I first started recovery, but it’s necessary all the same. Without admitting powerlessness, I can’t get any further. The last time I prayed the sorrowful mysteries while I was needing to revisit that first step, what I saw was powerlessness.

One ordinary Tuesday several months ago, I was praying the rosary on the front porch while my daughter cut the crass. I can’t cut the grass because I can’t stand up without help and trying to push a mower while using a walker just isn’t something I’m up for trying. So I’m there praying, and I see Jesus in that garden. It’s something I will never un-see, it’s an intense thing to see. Jesus was in the garden, slumped in the dirt, face to the ground in anguish and begging God to let this cup pass from him. He was crying tears of blood and he groaned as he prayed.

I have seen all of the sorrowful mysteries, but this one always gets me the most. Jesus submitted to powerlessness. He was God in the flesh, and he didn’t have to put himself in that position. However, he submitted to this powerlessness so that he could go through his passion for our redemption. After Jesus chooses to submit to being powerless and his fate is sealed, he is bound, powerless this time against the crowd and the violence of their hearts, having his body shredded apart from those flogging him with the whips. He cries and he groans, but he still is powerless.

Jesus doesn’t retaliate against the crowd, but instead also submits to the powerlessness of having them mock him, spit on him, and jam a crown made of thorns onto his head. The crowd screams and laughs and Jesus just takes it. Not because he shouldn’t defend himself, but because he chooses not to. Jesus’ powerlessness is something he’s decided to take on to do what he came to do.

When Jesus can’t cope anymore and struggles to carry the cross, in his powerlessness he is forced to accept help from Simon the Cyrene who has been compelled to carry the cross for Jesus. Not only is Jesus powerless and at the mercy of the crowd, he also needs help to continue in this journey. And then, after they get there, Jesus lets them crucify him. It’s an angry mob and justice says that he is right and this is not fair. People should not be treating him like this, and yet, he allows himself to be powerless.

Jesus is an example of powerlessness that I can follow, and if Jesus, God himself, can submit to powerlessness to complete the will of the Father, then I can admit that I’m powerless over not just my addiction but my life, and then I can turn to the Jesus who chose powerlessness, and realize he’s the guy that can help me out of this mess. I want to follow Jesus in his passion, I’ve been baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection, and in desiring all of that, I can desire sobriety and follow Jesus in his powerlessness, and accept his help.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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