The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Said Mass, by the Reverend James Ross Smith
On Thursday evening, I attended a party and met a woman who works as a psychiatric nurse here in New York. She also serves as an adjunct professor at a well-known local nursing college. We hit it off immediately and had a really interesting conversation. She told me that she mostly works with patients who are struggling with various forms of addiction, and addiction medicine is the subject that she teaches. That interested me immediately, not least because we host a number of twelve-step meetings here at Saint Mary’s, and because addiction to opioids has become such a pressing problem in many parts of the United States, and I’ve long felt that it would be good for me to know about that issue. We ended talking about addiction, about twelve-step spirituality, about becoming sober, about relapsing, and about starting over—“one day at a time,” as they say. And we also talked about evil. It was she who first used that word. And it surprised me to hear a professor and a clinician use it. I hastened to ask her what she meant. She assured me that she didn’t believe that those who are addicted are evil—she herself lives with and struggles with a form of addiction—rather, she said, there is something evil in the way that addiction enslaves people and distorts their lives.