In looking at the life of Matt Talbot, we may easily focus on the later years when he had stopped drinking for some time and was leading a penitential life. Only alcoholic men and women who have stopped drinking can fully appreciate how difficult the earliest years of sobriety were for Matt. He had to take one day at a time. So do the rest of us.
word of god
& The Gospel according to Matthew 5: 1-12
The Word of God is now read aloud slowly and prayerfully
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Allow a few moments reflective silence and then read the following:
Venerable Matt Talbot (1856-1925)
Feastday – June 19
Matt was born in the poverty of Dublin's inner city, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was 30—Matt was an active alcoholic. This was the drug culture of the 19th century. Matt was an addict.
One day he decided to take "the pledge" for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. A priest helped him, giving him a rehabilitation programme, which providentially incorporated the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. That was fifty years before AA was founded. There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.
Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s labourer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year. Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. With the help of his priest friend, Matt modelled his life on that of the monks, who lived in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries. It was a tough programme of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. To his neighbours and his work mates in the timber yards, he was a cheerful, happy friend. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt gave away most of his wages every week to the poor at home and abroad. "Matt had no time for money", his sister remarked. He was keenly aware of his fellow workers struggle for social justice. A loyal member of Ireland's Transport and General Workers Union, a Union leader, Stephen McGonagle, described him as "a beacon of light to Irish workers".
After a life of heroic perseverance, his health failed and Matt was forced to quit work. He died suddenly on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. Fifty years later Pope Paul VI gave him the title Venerable. Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He remained sober for forty years until his death. His life story has been an inspiration for alcoholics and addicts throughout the world.
For the next five minutes silently read and reflect on the readings.
Underline what you consider to be key words and/or phrases for you.
� Share your insights in discussion of the following:
v What are some of the addictions which can take you away from the Christian life?
v How can we, as Knights of the Southern Cross, assist those struggling with addiction in our communities?
Leader: Matt's programme of recovery was built around devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary, Mother of God, spiritual reading, self-discipline and manual work. But he never forgot his struggle with his addiction. Some day he may be declared the patron saint for addicts; and so we pray:
All: Lord God,
May Matt Talbot's triumph over addiction, bring hope to our community and strength to our hearts, through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Permission has been granted by LSCA to reproduce this activity.