Calix Society brings spirituality to addiction recovery

| Susan Klemond | February 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

Jim Billigmeier has felt God’s hand guiding him through recovery from alcohol addiction, starting with his call for help in 1980 and during all his years of sobriety since then.

While Alcoholics Anonymous continues to play an important role in his recovery, a Catholic organization for those affected by addiction called the Calix Society has given him tools and support for the spiritual aspects of recovery.

“God’s always there [holding] his hand out, and it’s just up to you,” said Billigmeier, 73, a member of St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi. “You have to grab his hand.”

Addiction Recovery Mass and Healing Service
10 a.m. Feb. 13 at St. Pascal Baylon Church, 1757 Conway St., St. Paul.

The Calix Society (“calix” is Latin for “chalice”) is an international organization founded in Minneapolis almost 70 years ago that began by offering spiritual support to Catholics recovering from alcoholism. Now with nearly 500 members in the United States and Europe, it is open to anyone affected by any form of addiction.

Members of the Calix Society’s archdiocesan chapter invite the local Church to their first Addiction Recovery Mass and Healing Service 10 a.m. Feb. 13 at St. Pascal Baylon Church in St. Paul.

“So many people are affected by addictions, and there are all sorts of addictions out there,” said Stephen O., 56, president of the Archdiocesan Calix Society and a parishioner of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul. [Stephen O. belongs to AA, which asks members to avoid revealing their full identity in the media.] “Many of us struggle in our lives with things we could receive healing for,” he said.

“I believe the Holy Spirit works through that [healing] ministry,” he added. “Coupled with addiction and recovery of any kind, it’s very powerful and it can help people move forward.”

Through prayer, recovery-related spiritual teaching and fellowship at monthly meetings at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Calix Society members bring the Catholic faith more fully into their recovery. About 35 members attend the meetings, a quarter of who are members of Al-Anon, a support group for families and friends of problem drinkers, Billigmeier said.

AA and other programs following the 12 steps, or principles for recovery, refer to a “higher power,” but Calix Society gives members the freedom to talk about Church teaching and openly define their higher power as Christ, said Tracy O’Kane, 56, a Calix Society member and its secretary who belongs to the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and Al-Anon.

The Calix Society also promotes frequent reception of the sacraments, O’Kane said, adding that the sacrament of reconciliation especially partners with several of the 12 steps.

Through the Calix Society, Stephen O. said he continues to give his will over to God.

“In order for me to be lucid and spiritually grounded, I need to be constantly cognizant of what it is God’s calling me to do,” he said.

The Calix Society doesn’t replace 12-step programs for those in recovery, but aids with spiritual healing, said Deacon Phillip Stewart, who has served as the Twin Cities’ Calix Society’s chaplain for eight years.

“As Catholics, Calix kind of fulfills that healing component as you recover from addiction through a Catholic perspective.”

The Feb. 13 Mass is an opportunity for anyone recovering from addiction or its effects to learn about the Calix Society’s support from those already receiving it, Deacon Stewart said.  Calix Society members “become that visible witness for others who may be looking for some help in their own personal lives.”

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