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.