Thursday, September 5, 2013

Triumph over addiction

[The following reflection appeared on the 9th June 2013 Facebook page of St. Canice’s Church, Finglas, Dublin, Ireland at More about this church can be found at

Matt Talbot was born on the 2nd May 1856 at 13, Aldborough Court in the Parish of St. Agatha. Matt was one of Dublin's poor, he lived in a tenement, wore second hand cloths, died in a laneway, and was buried in a pauper's grave. 

Coming from such a deprived background and with an alcoholic father and a  family history of neglect and poverty, Matt found himself sucked into the culture of addiction and the only choice of drug available to the poor of his day, alcohol.  Matt like so many others embraced alcohol as a means of escape from the misery and poverty of daily life. 
Today we live in an age of addictions more sophisticated perhaps than those of Matt's day, addictions to substances such as alcohol and other drugs soft or hard, prescription or illegal, addictions to gambling, pornography and the internet, addictions to  work, professional advancement, sex, money and power. All these have the ability to destroy our lives and like demons even our very souls as well.

Matt Talbot gradually came to this awareness and from the time of his conversion as a young man of 28, he spent the rest of his life living to a heroic extent the Christian virtues through prayer, spiritual reading, work and acts of charity. 

Matt sets before us a radical example which demonstrates that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. His life is a witness to the fact that people can by God's grace and their own self acceptance say no to that which leads to addiction or addictive behaviour.

His story is of triumph over addiction. It is a story of faith and of how the power of God's grace can help us overcome the struggles and difficulties of life.