Monday, December 24, 2007

Chosen by Matt Talbot: Musings of a Non-Alcoholic


August 16, 2007

"Three things I cannot escape:
the eye of God, the voice of conscience, the stroke of death.
In company, guard your tongue.
In your family, guard your temper.
When alone guard your thoughts."

This lovely man...Matthew Talbot.

I was chosen by this Saint to be his special charge for the remainder of the year 2007. I went to the website where one can request a special Patron Saint for a year and this Saint will be sent to one's email address. Then, reading up on the Saint, one can take what one wants from his/her life and apply it where it fits.

Ven. Matthew Talbot, it seems, has chosen me. I have heard of him before, but I never really went into his life in any great detail...'til now. I 'googled' his name and all kinds of interesting sites came up ~ Patron Saints Index,, all the usuals. Then I found some that were not quite so well-known, but just as interesting.

For example, from out of Ireland, his home country, there is a special site dedicated only to him. He is declared by the Church as venerable, but so far has not been beatified, let alone canonized. No miracles yet ~ at least, not as of the last update! :) And, reading up on this holy man, I could not at first figure out what we had in common, or why he would choose me, of all people.

He was Irish; I have a bit o' the Green in me, but my family has much more Scottish and English than Irish, and we were all born here in the States.

I am not an alchoholic ~ I used to drink regularly(weekend parties, that kind of thing) but it was always 'social', never more than that. I don't smoke ~ haven't for 25+ years. He was a problem drinker, and a heavy smoker. I quit drinking when I first became pregnant with our eldest, have not drunk much since...and as far as my smoking days are concerned, I haven't touched a cigarette since April, 1982.

He hated school, always skipped out, barely got a year's worth of education. I have a BS in Fine Arts and Education.

I have never worked in a wine bottling plant. I didn't have to help support my family from my childhood onward; as a matter of fact, I grew up quite comfortably...not wealthy, but my parents were not hurting by any means. While he was born in the slums of downtown Dublin, I came to this life to parents who lived in the suburbs, had a summer cottage on the lake, three squares a day...

So, if I have so little in common with this man, why on earth did he pick me to sponsor? What does he see about my life that so closely parallels his own? So far, this is what I have come up with...

Even tho' I don't really drink anymore, I have other addictions, some of which may even qualify as being sinful, I'm sure. While I won't go into detail here (I will be telling Fr. Ben all about it, you can bet) I will say that perhaps this is what drew Ven. Matt to me. Maybe he sees a bit of himself in my life; his addiction to alchohol and smoke is not the point ~ his addiction, what ever it was, is like mine ~ what ever mine may be. We all have bad habits we need to shake, and I need the help of as many Saints as I can get!

And so, being thoroughly Irish, he might see a chance to make his influence felt, shall we say? The Irish, lovely people that they are, are quite fond of making their presence known, to be I'd be willing to bet that even tho' he's in Heaven now, he still has that bit o' the Green in him!

In the quote above, he mentions his conscience...which comes to us, by grace of the Holy Spirit, and quite unquestionably as the voice of our Guardian Angel. Since I have a devotion to my own Friend, perhaps Ven. Matt sees this in common, as he could not escape the voice of his own Angel, and he knows that I seek peace and quiet so as to listen more closely to my own (per the Opus Angelorum). Our conscience is with us always; we cannot turn it off, altho' many have tried...

After he had taken an oath of sobriety, he began to attend daily Holy Mass. For the past several weeks, I have been telling my husband Mike that I want to start this practice...if I cannot get there every single day, at least a few extra during the week. For instance, tomorrow (Friday) I am going to the 12:00 noon Holy Mass, not because of having to, but because of wanting to...and I will most likely stay for an hour of Adoration afterwards, if I'm lucky. I believe that Ven. Matt is trying to let me know that this would be a good idea ~ and perhaps with his help, I just may be able to do it.

According to one website, he became a Third Order Franciscan later on in his life...and since he had practiced quiet acts of penance and charity since taking his life-long oath, this was a natural extension for a simple, austere lifestyle, wearing a penitential chain in secret, morning Holy Mass and evening prayers to the Holy Virgin, especially his Rosary. Even with the little education he had had, he was able to spend many hours in spiritual reading, as what he lacked in formal education, he made up for in knowledge of God and the things that really matter.

I have been trying to find more quiet time to spend in prayer myself...all the reading I have been doing about the Angels, in preparation for becoming a member of the OA, my daily prayers connected to the Blue Army (WAF), and whatever else I can find to do...maybe he is one that is leading me to do more of that?
Perhaps all along, all this time, he has been my patron and I never knew 'til now?

I do know this: I plan to make more time to get to know this man, in Heaven as he is, looking down on me today, perhaps doing what he can to learn more about me? Maybe he's thinking, 'If you give me more time, I'm sure you will find what you seek about me...and how I got to be where I am today. I would like to help you get here, too!'

Ah, yes...what a lovely man, this Ven. Matthew Talbot. Even after all his sins of drunkenness, he came home to his God, and there he remains forever. After all my the grace of God...there will I be forever?

Dearest Ven. Matt Talbot, patron of alchoholics, addicts, those 'staggering to Heaven' ~ please pray for me!
We have taken the liberty of changing the title of this reflection for posting purposes.
Like this author, one certainly does not have to have a personal connection with alcoholism to have an interest in Matt Talbot.