Saturday, March 28, 2015

One notable visitor to the Venerable Matt Talbot Shrine

During one of his trips to Ireland His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, paid a visit to the Venerable Matt Talbot Shrine at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Dublin. 



 






Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Parish Mission - “From Brokenness to Wholeness”

When:  Mar 25 – 27, 2015
 
Where: Our Lady of Lourdes, Sean McDermott Street Lower, Dublin 1, Ireland

Description: Matt Talbot Shrine is holding a special year of planned events to commemorate the 90th anniversary of his death. Matt was only 28 years old when he took the radical decision to turn away from a life of addiction and follow God's call. He is an example of what is possible in a world that needs this more than ever. 

A three day parish mission will be held in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sean McDermott St, D1 at 7PM on Mar 25th – 27th. The speakers will be Br Barry Butler, an Alexian Brother who has worked for many years with individuals and families suffering from illness and addictions and David Barbieri, a former former heroin addict and gang member who, for the last 18 years, has worked with Br Barry helping others to change their lives. Each session ends with prayers for healing. 

On Sunday March 29th at 2PM there will be a Walk of Remembrance from the Matt Talbot Memorial on Sean McDermott St to Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The walk will include prayer for all those lost to addiction, suicide and illness. This will be followed by mass celebrated by Fr Kieran McDermott at 3PM with Teen Spirit providing music ministry. 

Information: Matt Talbot Shrine, Our Lady of Lourdes Church Sean Mac Dermott Street, D1 Tel: 01 8551259
Fr. Richard Ebejer SDB, Adm

Thursday, March 19, 2015

St. Patrick and Venerable Matt Talbot


In his article at http://scottdodge.blogspot.com/2015/03/in-honor-of-st-patrick.html, Deacon Scott of the Diocese of Salt Lake City honors St. Patrick but focuses on “another great Irish Christian on the occasion” of St. Patrick’s Day, namely, Venerable Matt Talbot.  
Such a pairing of these holy persons is likely to increase an awareness of Matt Talbot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Introduction to the Real Saint Patrick

It is probable that only a small percentage of people  worldwide who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have taken the time to seriously read about St. Patrick or read his writings. (To read what St. Patrick actually wrote in his own words, see http://www.confessio.ie/#)
 
In this article Susan Gately, who writes from Ireland, separates some facts from legends of the real St. Patrick.
 
 
The Real St. Patrick
Susan Gately


Ask anyone about Ireland's national saint, St. Patrick, and invariably you will be told three facts: He brought Christianity to Ireland, he got rid of the snakes, and he explained the Trinity using a shamrock.
Alas, all wrong. 

"In those three cases, the first one is actually false and the other two are late legends," said Salvador Ryan, professor of ecclesiastical history at St. Patrick's College Maynooth in Ireland.

In fact, in 431 the pope sent Palladius as bishop to the Irish people “believing in Christ.” So when Patrick arrived in Ireland, there were already Christians there. The story of the snakes first appears in “Life of St. Patrick” from the 12th century by Jocelin of Furness. "It is maybe symbolic of banishing paganism from Ireland," said Ryan. 

Then there's the shamrock. The first image of St. Patrick holding a shamrock, now so associated with him, is on a half-penny coin minted in Dublin in 1674. 

But St. Patrick was not a legend. He was a real man and, uniquely for the time, wrote his own life story.  In fact, he is the only Roman citizen we know from the fifth century who was taken into slavery in a barbarian land among non-Roman peoples who lived to tell the tale and wrote about it. 

St. Patrick wrote two documents: his Confessio (Confession) (about 6,500 words) , and “A Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus.” One is his declaration of faith, the other a severe reprimand to soldiers who conducted raids on St. Patrick's newly baptised Christians. 

The Confession arises from a period of crisis. "It seems that certain allegations have been made by some people in the Church in Britain against Patrick," Ryan said. "They claim he came to Ireland for his own financial gain." Patrick wrote to set the record straight, telling his own story.

He was from Roman Britain from a well-to-do family. His father was a deacon; his grandfather a priest. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland. 

In Latin, Patrick wrote: "After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy — as I realize now, the spirit was burning in me at that time" (Confessio 16).

Patrick escaped, but back in Britain, in a dream, a figure came bearing letters. "They called out as it were with one voice: 'We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk among us once again'” (Confessio 23).

Against his family's wishes, Patrick returned to Ireland.  "It is a hard station, almost a self-imposed exile. He tells us of the pain of emigration. It is a very human account," Ryan said
.
Patrick refers to the conversion of hundreds of people. While there is no tradition of martyrdom in Ireland, it is clear that Patrick suffered, was protective of the converts and ready to lay down his life for them.
"What comes through powerfully is his humanity and his deep faith and humility. He says he was a stone lying in deep mire, but that God picked him up and sat him on top of the wall," Ryan said. 

Looking at his writings rather than his legend, you see a man aware of his weakness. For instance, he tells of a sin he committed at age 16. He's ashamed of it and confides it to a friend. His friend breaks the confidence and tells everyone. "Patrick has long since confessed this particular sin and has done penance for it, but it comes back to bite him. Sometimes that happens to us, too. He's a flesh-and-blood saint," Ryan said.

Patrick died at the end of the fifth century. Two centuries later, biographies sponsored by the Church in Armagh, Ireland, appear, presenting him as a wonder-worker. But the Patrick of the Confession is "more impressive" than his legends, Ryan said. The saint who wrote more than 1,500 years ago said: "For this reason, may God not let it come about that I would suffer the loss of his people who have become his in the furthermost parts of the earth. I pray that God give me perseverance, and that he grant me to bear faithful witness to him right up to my passing from this life, for the sake of my God" (Confessio 58).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Honoring the Priest at Matt Talbot House

Bill Provence goes outside following the nightly mass in the former funeral home, now called the Matt Talbot House after the Irish ascetic. Though not formally recognized as a saint, The Venerable Matt Talbot is considered a patron of those struggling with alcoholism.
A recovering addict leaves the nightly mass in the former funeral home, now called the Matt Talbot House after the Irish ascetic. Though not formally recognized as a saint, the Venerable Matt Talbot is considered a patron of those struggling with alcoholism. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
 
 
For the story about the “battling the violence of addiction” ministry of Father Doug McKay, click http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150315_Priest_to_be_honored_for_fostering_peace_in_Grays_Ferry.html
 
Information about the Matt Talbot sculpture in the window can be viewed at http://www.calixsociety.org/resources/talbot-statue.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"The beautiful gift of the present moment"

 
Beginning with a momentary resolve, Matt Talbot began to embrace and live fully in the present moment.
 

An old man staggered up to me in the street, pint glass in hand. Laying his right hand on my shoulder he slurred out the question “Why is Matt Talbot so bloody manly anyway?” I wish he could hear my answer.

There is no doubt that Matt Talbot is a very holy man and on this very special feast day, the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is fitting to acknowledge that he was exceptionally devoted in his life to the Mother of Jesus Christ, our God. He considered himself her slave and he went out of his way to demonstrate his devotion to her by wearing chains of penance on his legs and arms and by offering up penance, prayer and masses to people he had wronged in his life. Now, I say to you, that is a real man.

You see, Matt Talbot was a flaming alcoholic for much of his early life. From the age of thirteen he had become hooked on a liquid, which takes the lives of so many of our Irish men. Every penny he had went to what eroded away at a life that held so much promise. Every second, day, year of his life given over to partaking in an activity, wasting precious seconds that were gifted to him to be in service to the Lord God. His masculinity decimated, his desire to serve and give to others crushed, he found himself penniless, in debt, having wronged so many and given up on any hope of family life.

Now this is not a story of life lost. It is also not a story of what could be if an alcoholic could change his mind. For that is not a realistic assessment of the situation. Matt Talbot once said:
“Never be too hard on the man who can’t give up drink. It’s as hard to give up the drink, as it is to raise the dead to life again. But both are possible and even easy for Our Lord. We have only to depend on him.”
The attraction to alcohol is so emotionally embedded in the personality of the human imprisoned that it is almost impossible to escape the clutches of the dreaded disease. I can change no one and intend nothing of the sort with this article.

Matt Talbot hit rock bottom. Standing outside a pub one night penniless, his only hope was the desire of being invited in by a passerby for a drink. This did not happen and it was then that, in a moment, Matt walked away from that pub. And history was made…

This was not a planned occurrence. This decision did not have weeks of Matt scrupulously deciding upon a big change for his future. What happened then was a momentary resolve. It occurred in an instant. Matt decided to move one step at a time away from the door of the public house that had held him prisoner for so many years. As each step got further away circumstances occurred. A meeting with his mother came next. In that moment he said to her he was taking the pledge. Moment to moment he began to live. In each moment he made a decision to do the right thing. He took the pledge for three months. In each moment of those three months he continued to make decisions to do the right thing. He made it to three and so took the pledge to six months and eventually for his lifetime.

Matt is now being considered for sainthood. He dedicated his life to paying back his financial debts and he dedicated his life to paying back his spiritual debts. He had Masses said for those he wronged and he prayed fervently for others.

What is fascinating about this holy venerable is that it was in that split second outside the pub in Dublin that he became in a moment, a man. He started to live in what is the most powerful tool we, as men, have – the present moment.

Saint Faustina, of Jesus’ Divine Mercy, talked frequently about the beautiful gift of the present moment. The past is gone and there is nothing we can do about it. We may have had it tough, we may have had difficult relationships and troubles and we may have been horrible people to others. But that is gone now. The past no longer exists. The future does not exist yet either. It has not come yet and it may not come. We have no idea what the future holds. Therefore, all we really have is the present moment. We have nothing else. And therefore, it is what we do with that moment, that present moment, what we decide to do, think, speak or act, that will define who we are as people. That is the key and secret to life my friends. If we know in our hearts that life is about serving God. If we decide to give our moments to what is good and for the good of others then we can rest in the peace of knowing we are following his will.

This action takes only one step at a time. Ask the question “what should I be doing in this moment to serve God, to be doing what is right and good”. Worry only about that moment and get through it and leave the next moment for when it comes.

This was Matt Talbot. It is why he is considered manly and holy. He started that night outside the pub to take one step at a time, one moment at a time, to do what is right. In that moment he left adolescence behind and became a man, he became strong, he moved forward and though he no doubt fell often, he continued always to get right back up and to struggle on. He did not give up and he created one of the most beautiful and masculine lives ever witnessed in Ireland. To give yourself for others, that is the heart of a man. To reject it is to reject your true calling.

Let us today begin to embrace our present moments and ask God what it is He needs most from us now. If we do this we will make Ireland great again.

Venerable Matt Talbot pray for us.


Note: The photograph that companies this article at the source link above is not that of Venerable Matt Talbot but of another Matthew Talbot, who lived in the U.S.A.