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Center for Action and Contemplation

Twelve-Step Spirituality: Week 2 Summary and “Walking the Steps” Contemplative Practice

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Twelve-Step Spirituality: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, November 22-Saturday, November 28, 2015

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. —Step 1 (Sunday)

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. —Step 2 (Monday)

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. —Step 3 (Tuesday)

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. —Step 4 of the Twelve Steps (Wednesday)

We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. —Step 5 (Thursday)

We were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character. —Step 6 (Friday)


Practice: Working the Steps

Coming to trust and surrender to our Higher Power is the work of a lifetime, even as mercy flows instantaneously to us. The Twelve Steps require us to both work and to undergo grace. I invite you to begin wherever you are. It might take you a day or a month or more to take each step with the support of someone you trust. Just begin. And each day commit to beginning again.

Remember that as humans, we are all addicted to our way of thinking. A regular practice of contemplative prayer is the oil that greases the wheels of transformation. Include daily meditation as part of your program for whatever addiction you are facing.

The following questions, adapted from the Breathing Under Water Companion Journal, [1] may help you take each of the steps deeper. Take your time in reflecting, journaling, and sharing with others.

Step 1: When have you experienced being powerless in your everyday life? How much do you depend on your own strength and abilities? Name at least one area where you feel like you might be reaching “the limits of your own fuel supply.”

Step 2: Where do you instinctively make decisions—your head, heart, or gut? Which do you consider the most trustworthy? Imagine a dialogue with one of these three areas of your being. What would it tell you about your need to be more open?

Step 3: Surrender will always feel like dying, and yet it is the necessary path to liberation. Write about what the word surrender conjures in your mind and heart. How is this influenced by your personal experiences? How is it influenced by society’s perspective?

Step 4: What part of you do you not want to see? What are you afraid will happen if you’re honest with yourself? Can you begin to imagine being free of that fear?

Step 5: When did someone love you in spite of your actions? How did that make you feel? How did it make you want to be a better person?

Step 6: Are you more comfortable with acting or waiting? What happens if you approach a problem from a stance opposite the one you normally prefer?

Gateway to Silence:
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water Companion Journal (Franciscan Media: 2015).

For further study:
Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

A Simple Program: A Contemporary Translation of the Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”

Image Credit: Femme assise (Melancholy Woman, detail), Pablo Picasso, 1902-03, The Detroit Museum of Art.
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