Friday, August 1, 2008

St. Ignatius and Bill Wilson

Today (well yesterday since I posted this after midnight!) the Church celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola .

Like most people, there have been many twists and turns my journey in recovery. Early on I had read some of the AA books like "Pass It On" and "AA Comes of Age" and learned of the initial meeting between Bill W. and Fr. Ed Dowling. It wasn't until years later that I would really learn the importance of that meeting.

It was Fr. Dowling who had read about AA and it's Twelve Steps and immediately saw the link between the steps and, being a Jesuit, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. There is a short document available on the Internet that describes this link

There is also a wonderful book that documents the relationship between Bill Wilson and Fr. Dowling, "The Soul of Sponsorship". The book contains excepts from the letters exchanged between these men over many years. Fr. Dowling became Bill Wilson's spiritual director and some believe that Bill might have converted to Catholicism if it would not have given the appearance that the AA program was ultimately a path to the Catholic Church.

I was fortunate enough to make a seven day silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house last year. It was during that retreat that I became more familiar with the Spiritual Exercises. I have tried, inconsistently mind you, to use a great book by Fr. Jim Harbaugh called "A Twelve Step Approach to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" . He also has a similar volume called "A Twelve Step Approach to the Sunday Readings" . I highly recommend both!

So on this feast of St. Ignatius I would encourage anyone looking to incorporate the Catholic faith into their twelve step program to investigate the Spiritual Exercises.

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