Monday, November 29, 2010

"Matt Talbot, hope for addicts"

By Brian Hooks

The Catholic Weekly (Sydney)

7 October 2001

Pope Paul said in 1977 he was keen to beatify Venerable Matthew Talbot, Hope of Addicts, within a year or two.

And Pope John Paul II is equally supportive.

But the struggle goes on, as Dublin priest Fr Morgan Costelloe, Vice-Postulator for the cause of Matt Talbot, scours the world for evidence of the physical miracle the Vatican requires.

Fr Costelloe began his work in 1974 and is the third man to take the job, since the campaign began in 1931, just six years after Matt’s death.

Matt Talbot was venerated in 1975. His life is a wonderful example of God’s Grace.

Hopelessly addicted to alcohol at the age of 28, and filled with shame, Matt resolved to change his life. With the help of the Jesuits and the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius, Matt was able to.

Now his example has become a shining light of hope to others caught in a web of addiction.

“They think, ‘if God could do this for Matt Talbot, he can do it for me’,” Fr Costelloe said. “Alcoholics can identify with Matt because he went through all the horrors, the shivers, the shakes, the cold turkey.

“The Pope said he’s convinced Matt’s the man chosen by God to be the patron saint of addicts.

“And if you look at the list of patron saints there’s no patron saint for addicts.

“And when you look at Church history, whenever there’s a problem, God produced somebody.”

In spite of the many thousands of addicts cured with Matt’s help – up to 40,000 people go through the American Matt Talbot Retreat Movement every year – the Vatican is looking for a physical miracle. With advances in medical science these are very difficult to come by.

Any suggestion of a miracle attributable to Matt’s intervention goes first to Fr Costelloe and, if it’s worthwhile, on to the Vatican. Despite what Fr Costelloe labels “close calls” his search continues.

Fr Costelloe’s housekeeper thinks his search is in vain.

“That feller will never perform a physical miracle, he’s too busy looking after his boozing mates,” she told him.

It is in his very ordinariness that so many see Matt as inspiration.

When he began the task, Fr Costelloe met people who had known Matt Talbot early in their lives.

“One lady said to me one day: ‘I knew Matt Talbot, and he couldn’t be a saint’.

“I asked ‘why not?’ and she said: ‘Because he didn’t look like one’.

“I asked, ‘what did he look like?’ and she gave me a wonderful answer: ‘He looked like one of us’.”


Note: Fr. Morgan Costelloe, author of "Matt Talbot: Hope for Addicts" (1987; 2001) and "The Mystery of Matt Talbot" (1981) is now retired, and Fr. Brian Lawless is the current Vice- Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Matt Talbot.
Key to Matt Talbot's recovery from alcoholism was turning his life over to the care of God.