Sunday, September 21, 2008

Annual Matt Talbot Novena for Sufferers

Matt Talbot - a Saint in Waiting

by Fr. Tom Ryan P.P.



Suffering has many human faces; young, old, rich, poor, town, country, tall small, married, single, separated; it does not discriminate.

A parent grieving the loss of their child, a young person rejected because they are ‘different’, a spouse separated due to compulsive drinking or some other addiction, a family with a drug addict, a person cut in their prime due to illness or disability. We all know the faces; we see them every day. Perhaps we see one when we look into the mirror.

Often it is hidden but the telltale signs of strain are there. Tragically, some take their own lives; others take pills, drugs or alcohol, try to escape but only adding to their portion of suffering humanity. It is vain to try and explain their situation by neat spiritual formulae. Suffering is too commonplace and pain too real.

Suffering may be mysterious, widespread and at times overpowering but no more so than the reality of the grace and courage of sufferers. The secular world, that we are all part of, speaks of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of tragedy, but would this be possible if the human spirit were not part of God’s spirit?

Matt Talbot, whose annual Novena begins in SS John & Paul Church on Tuesday September 30th at 7pm is an example of a fellow Irish man who in his own life knew suffering as a result of his addictive behaviour, but he also knew the other side of the coin when he experienced God’s love in his life.

Matt Talbot is just one example of many who, through their plight, caused in part by circumstances and in part by a personal vulnerability, still shine through and stay faithful to what they cherished and loved.

Despite all the reasons in the world for caving into death’s inevitability, Matt Talbot stayed focused on life’s hope and by so doing, shows us the truth of the cross’s triumph over suffering and death.

Suffering from addictions, or indeed sharing in the life of addictions, has many human faces. It often defies explanation, leaving us stuck for worlds and at times helpless. However, there is help available, be it medical or professional. There is also spiritual help available.

At this time of year our annual Novena in honour of Matt Talbot takes place in both Kilrush and Shannon. It’s the time of year when people gather for one hour each Tuesday from 7pm to 8pm to pray for all suffering or sharing in the life of addictions.

This is the 16th year of the Novena and attracts hundreds of people at both venues for each of the 9 nights. This year’s Novena begins on Tuesday September 30th in Shannon and continues each Tuesday during October and November.


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