book-let the oppressed go freeI don’t really know what made me do it.  There was a list of books to review, and I could have just waited, but Cardinal Justin Rigali’s book Let the Oppressed Go Free: Breaking the Bond’s of Addiction called to me.

Maybe it’s because I have realized, in the last couple of years, that I have a tendency to addiction.  While it’s not to drugs or anything obvious, that trait is still within me.  Knowing it’s there has been helpful, but reading this book was helpful too.  Rigali speaks pastorally, gently, reminding me of a concerned father or uncle.

“Perhaps surprisingly, to admit to having made wrong decisions can be quite a liberating discovery.  Someone who looks only at what others have done to him or her will always feel like a victim, but someone who can say about any part of the experience that ‘I made the wrong decision’ can now freely choose otherwise and may therefore stand, with God’s help, at the beginning of a renewed life.”

This has been my experience, totally and completely.  Though I am ashamed of some of the actions in my past, and though I am hurt by some of the experiences of my past, being brave enough to admit that I made some wrong decisions lifted the burden, freed me from a cycle of bitterness and remembering that I struggled with for years.

“The decision to stop [an addiction], however, must also be a decision to begin — to begin a new way of life, to entrust oneself to God, to change the daily self-defeating thought process which so often leads to the painful behaviors of addiction.  Through the grace-filled alteration of self-defeating thoughts, a person gains the strength to change one’s lifestyle.”

This book comes to me at a time when I’m in a really good place with my struggles with addiction.  At first, I wondered if I really needed this book.  Now I think that Rigali’s reminders and guidance are timely.  I’m able to hear them right now.  If I was in the midst of a struggle, would I pay attention?  Would I be able to see past my own misery?

It’s a short book, but it includes everything I needed to hear and many things that I need to remember.  Much of it wasn’t new to me, though struggles with addiction aren’t new.  On closer examination of my life, I can see the temptations waiting for me, wanting to pull me into a focus other than God, other than my vocations of wife and mother, other than healthy relationships with those around me.

“Such time spent in adoration before the Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament is particularly helpful to persons struggling with addiction and in recovery from addiction because it places one in conscious proximity to Jesus.  He alone knows the secret places of our heart and still has today the same power that we see him exercising in the Gospels, that of healing our souls, minds, and bodies.  Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, for whatever length of time we can spend there, provides refreshment and peace for us in the presence of God’s unique love.”

I do spend time every week in adoration, though I suspect I’ve begun to take it for granted, in that I don’t always see just how necessary and grace-filled it makes my life to have that hour every week.

After reading this book, I want to send Cardinal Rigali a thank you.  I needed this book, and maybe you do too.  It’s not a heavy tome, filled with theology, but a conversation and a help.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at reviewing Catholic products, check out The Catholic Company‘s Reviewer Program, which is how I got my copy of this book.