Bill W., co-founder of AA meets Father Ed who made a pilgrimage to talk with Bill.


He’s originally became interested in AA., Father Ed said, through  studying the Twelve Steps in which he found parallels in the Exercises of St. Ignatius, the spiritual discipline of his Jesuit Order, and when Bill confessed he’s not known this, he appeared  utterly delighted. Then the curious little man went on and on, and as he did, Bill could feel his body relaxing, his spirit  rising, gradually he realized that this little man sitting across from him was radiating a kind  of grace that was filling the room with a strange, indefinable sense of presence. Primarily, Fr. Ed wanted to talk about the paradox of AA, the “regeneration, ” he called it, the strength arising out of total  defeat and weakness, the loss of one’s old life as a condition for achieving  a new one. and Bill  nodded, and agreed with everything he said, and soon found…but Bill never really had any words for what he found that night.

“…(As) a matter of  fact, it was the  Word of God they were talking about through most of the night. In time Bill told him that he no longer understood  God, that he had lost what once he understood so clearly. And Father Ed told him that he would never understand, that our idea of God would always be lacking, “for to understand  is to be equal to God.” But he added, our concept could grow, could deepen, and he spoke of the responsibility referred to in the “Eleventh Step> ” To improve our conscious contact.”

“…Bill told Father Ed about  his anger, his impatience, his mounting dissatisfaction. But nothing discouraged  Fr.  Ed. He quoted Matthew, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst.” The saints he said, were always distinguished by their yearning, their restlessness, their thirst.

When Bill asked if there was never to be any satisfaction, the old man snapped back. “Never. Never any.” There was only a kind of divine dissatisfaction that would keep him going, reaching out always.

Bill had made a decision, Father Ed reminded him, to turn his life and his will over to the care of God, and having done this, he was not to sit in judgment on how he or the world was proceeding. He had only to keep the channels open  — and be grateful, of course, it was not up to him to decide how fast or how slowly AA developed. He had only to accept.”


Robert Thomsen. Bill W. Harper and Row. Publishers. NY. 1975. Pages 307-309.

(See a picture of Father Ed in the pages of this book.)

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