In The Cross of Addiction, a new book from Veritas, we walk the Way of the Cross with those who are among the most vulnerable in our society, those battling addiction and their loved ones. Through compassionate and thought-provoking meditations on each of the Stations of the Cross, we are given insight into the struggle of addiction. Personal meditations from those carrying the cross of addiction and those closest to them provide intimate portrayals of this struggle, while reflections from those who work in the area highlight the importance of compassion for those carrying this cross and provide a deep sense of hope.
The book is edited by Barry Matthews and includes reflections from some of the leading advocates of social justice in Ireland, including Sister Consilio, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Charles J Brown, Father Peter McVerry, and Sister Stan Kennedy and many more.
Speaking about the inspiration for The Cross of Addiction, Barry Matthews said, “This short book is an opportunity to see the Cross that each person carries – be that of addiction or any other Cross associated with modern society – as being linked to the Cross that Jesus carried. Everyone has their Calvary moments and as such we can each be strengthened by the knowledge that Jesus understands our pain and has walked the path before us and walks it with us.
“Anonymity is very important to many people who are seeking treatment for addiction and as a result addiction is sometimes not spoken about as openly as it should be. It is important that those affected by addiction are aware that there are many sources of help available to them. It is important also that those affected by addiction understand that while it is often a very lonely and personal journey many people face similar difficulties and understand some of the pain involved.
“Working with those affected by addiction I came to understand that people often found it difficult to speak to family members and even friends about the struggle of addiction. In bringing together some of the main advocates in the field of social justice who have journeyed with so many facing up to addictions it is hoped that those currently struggling will gain some hope in reflecting that they are not alone in their battle.”
Barry continued, “Ireland is not unique in that addiction is prevalent in almost every community and so many families are affected at some level by addiction. In seeking reflections both from those active in the field and those directly affected the reflections offer a reality check on the difficulties faced by so many in Ireland today.
“Speaking to those being treated for addiction it soon became clear that they encountered a cross, they each knew what it was to fall and struggle to get back on their feet, they knew what it was like to see pain in the eyes of loved ones- parents and family members, they knew how important a warm smile was or even just a recognition of their humanity. Many people feel that life and perhaps their path in life has stripped them of their dignity – the feel like they are nailed to a cross and are unable to overcome it, The Stations of the Cross offer a unique view on any difficulty we face.”
Barry said there is no Cross which is heavier than the burden that Jesus carried for us. There is no challenge that Jesus would refuse to accompany us on. He said, “The Stations of the Cross offer a route map for us to invite Jesus to journey with us on our difficult battles while also showing solidarity with the journey he undertook for us
“The Cross of the World of 2017 may not be a wooden structure but it is no less real than that which Jesus carried. Many people feel that they are carrying the weight of the World on their shoulders – Jesus literally did! The Crosses that many people experience are often unseen in a world where individualism and social isolation is present but the message of Calvary remains that we never walk alone.”
Barry Matthews is a native of St Joseph’s Parish, Dundalk. He is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Armagh and was ordained to the diaconate in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 2016. Barry is particularly interested in the areas of addiction and social justice.
The Cross of Addiction is available in Veritas shops nationwide and from www.veritas.ie.