Monday, June 29, 2009

One Personal Reflection on the Venerable Matt Talbot

Venerable Matt Talbot
By Daisy Deadhead
June 18, 2009

In the Catholic calendar, today is the Feast Day of Matt Talbot. He has not been fully canonized yet, but is currently in the first stage, which gives him the title of "Venerable"; he needs to progress through the second stage (and the title of "Blessed") before he is a saint.

My late, great Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Kathy Anthony
, supervised the detox unit at the old Talbot Hall in Columbus, Ohio, which is now part of the Ohio State University Medical Center, but was at that time part of the St Anthony Hospital complex on the east side. At Talbot Hall, she made me stand up at an actual podium and give my AA "testimony" to about 300 people. It was the first time I had ever done it, and I was scared shitless. I remember looking at the painting of Matt Talbot hanging in the entrance hall, and asking him for a boost. I can even recall reaching out and touching the picture, whispering, "If you're listening, how about an infusion of grace?"

He got me through it, and I owe him. In fact, after the first few sentences, I relaxed completely and it was not unlike a regular conversation... or like blogging.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Novena to Venerable Matt Talbot

Matt Talbot.JPGHere is one of the Church's holy men for us to emulate. Matt Talbot was a regular guy if ever there was one, a working class alcoholic who changed and sanctified his life with the help of God. He never gave up. He even died while walking to mass. Read about his life here and here and here. This website is also dedicated to him.

Interestingly, Matt had a keen sense of justice. "He refused to return to work after a strike in 1900 and sought another job." He believed strongly in the rights and dignity of the working man. He was a very hard worker. Along these lines, it is his perseverance that Matt Talbot is most known for. "It is consistancy that God seeks," he said.

He was a great adorer of Our Lord in the Eucharist. It is written:

Young Matt Talbot, known as the "saint in overalls," also knelt outside the doors of his church for hours every morning. Once inside, he would prostrate himself on the floor in the form of a cross before entering his pew. Every Sunday, he spent seven hours in Church without moving, "his arms crossed, his elbows not resting on anything, his body from the knees up as rigid and straight as the candles on the altar," Kaczmarek writes. He did this every Sunday for 40 years.
A tremendous son of Our Blessed Mother, in addition to praying the rosary and angelus, one of his favorite little prayers, which he sometimes kept written on his hand, was, "O Virgin I ask three things from you: the grace of God, the presence of God, the blessing of God" and "O blessed Mother, obtain for me from Jesus that I may participate in His folly." I love that one.

Most notably, of course, Matt Talbot is known for his total conversion of life away from alcohol addiction, something he described as like "escaping Hell." Almost a year ago, while visiting Australia, Pope Benedict XVI visited a rehabilitation community and made the following
comments with regard to addictions and recovery, which are amazingly insightful (not surprising). Turning away from addiction and towards God is a choice for life. "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live: And that thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and obey his voice, and adhere to him." (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20) Here's what the pope said:

"They had to turn away from other gods and worship the true God," the pope said.

The false gods competing for people's allegiance today, he said, are associated with the worship of material things, possessive and manipulative forms of love and power.

"The cult of material possessions, the cult of possessive love and the cult of power often lead people to attempt to 'play God,' to try to seize total control with no regard for the wisdom of the commandments that God has made known to us," the pope said. "This is the path that leads toward death."

But, Pope Benedict said, worshipping the true God, recognizing him as the source of goodness, entrusting oneself to him, opening oneself to his healing power and obeying his commandments are the choices that lead to life.

Let's pray for the conviction and perseverance of Venerable Matt Talbot, may the Holy Ghost grant it! Here is a prayer that you may say for the canonization of the Irish holy man, Matt Talbot. You may also use it as a novena prayer. Begin today and say for 9 days. His feast is on June 19th!

Lord, in your servant, Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence of the Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give us courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Father, if it be your will that your beloved servant should be glorified by your Church, make known by your heavenly favours the power he enjoys in your sight. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Remembering Matt Talbot

For people who have an interest in recovery from alcoholism and the Venerable Matt Talbot, Matt is typically remembered in prayer daily.

There is, however, a yearly Remembrance Day for Matt, which is noted either today, June 18, or tomorrow, June 19, depending on the website.

For previous posts regarding this discrepancy of dates, see