Sunday, December 25, 2016

Matt Talbot and the Spirit of Christmas

Whereas the focus of this blog is about the holy person named Matt Talbot (1856-1925), numerous people today think of the name, Matt Talbot, in light of desperately needed services that are available during the Christmas season and throughout the year.
 
Two examples of such services are
“Christmas in July--A Matt Talbot Center Tradition” at
 
A different example of service is The Matt Talbot Retreat Movement at http://matttalbotretreats.org/.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Transformation Story

In her 2016 memoir, “The Prayer Lines Behind the Bylines,” journalist Ann Hauprich shares some inspiring stories including that of Rev. William (Padre Guilherme) Tracy, CSSR:
 
“As a Roman Catholic school student half a century ago, I learned about St. Martin of Tours. In those days, St. Martin was heralded as a “Patron Saint of reformed drunkards.” In today’s vernacular, he is revered as a “Patron Saint of Recovering Alcoholics.”

The ministries of Saint Monica, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Jude and the Venerable Matt Talbot also brought light into the darkness of alcoholics of bygone eras – and continue to inspire those seeking to recover from addictions today. But in no book have I encountered a “Patron Saint of Recovering Alcoholic Clergy.”

Then it dawned on me that whether or not such a title has ever been — or will ever be – bestowed upon a mortal, the Rev. William Tracy has, by word and deed, exemplified what it is to be the latter...”  Continue reading this chapter at http://legaciesunlimited.com/father-william-tracy.htm. (And note there is an expanded PDF version of this chapter.)



“The greatest proof in my life that God really loves me is that
I am sober today and free from the living death of active alcoholism.
I am grateful that what for 20 years had been my greatest shame
has been transformed into the precious gift of helping others.”
                                                       Rev. William Tracy

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Two 1949 Books About Matt Talbot


The following Friars’ Bookshelf book review was published in 1949, which was found on page 12 at  www.dominicanajournal.org/wp-content/.../dominicanav34n3friarsbookshelf.pdf


The Story of Matt Talbot. By Malachy Gerard Correll.
Cork, The Mercier Press, Ltd., 1948. pp. 110. 8/6.
Matt Talbot The Irish Worker's Glory. By Rev. James F. Cassidy, B.A. Westminster, Md., The Newman Bookshop, 1948. pp. 62. $0.90.

Malachy Carroll's personal knowledge of the character, customs, and habits of the Irish enables him to reconstruct the atmosphere which pervaded the Ireland of Matt Talbot's day. In his treatment of Talbot's boyhood and early life he introduces the reader into intimate contact with the members of Matt Talbot's family, placing due emphasis on the strong bonds of love and sacrifice which unite the members of an Irish family.

Relating the story of Talbot's fifteen years of slavery to drink, the author
points out three traits which marked Talbot as an exceptionally principled
man who would not, even under the deadening influence of alcohol, 
abandon his Sunday Mass obligation; nor relax his guard against impurity of thought, word, or deed; nor rob his employer of a minute's time by being late in reporting for work.

In his twenty-eighth year, becoming aware of the selfishness of his drinking companions by their careful avoidance of a penniless man, Matt Talbot determined to take the pledge. To accomplish this conversion and the subsequent victories over the paralyzing temptations of the devil he sought his strength in confession and return to the sacraments. Thus began a life of unflagging devotion to God which drew him ever up the ladder of contemplation. His waking hours became for him a period of prayer, as all his actions and thoughts were performed for the glory of God, Whose presence he ever felt. To him there was no such thing as free time. To commune with God and His saints was a treasure which he could not neglect nor forget. His long vigils in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; his avidity for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; his prayerful devotions to the Sacred Heart, to our Blessed Mother Mary and her Rosary, coupled with his fast and abstinence, and self-imposed bodily mortifications and disciplines, gained for him a reputation for holiness which savors of the men of God in the ages of great sanctity.

Fr. Cassidy, in his book, has not attempted a biography at all. Rather, he has unfolded the outstanding virtues of Matt's life, with a view to presenting him as an example for all workmen. In nine chapters he shows the practical spirituality of Matt Talbot, which stands as a challenge to workers who would compromise a principle for the sake of human respect. 

Note: This 1948 edition book is from the Dublin publisher, Clonmore
& Reynolds.  Although long out-of-print, these books are periodically available for purchase online, such as at
https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1199447785





Saturday, December 10, 2016

Please honor this prayer request

Gregory Jakielski, who is very active in promoting the cause for the canonization of Venerable Matt Talbot in English at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Talbot/304690079653019 and in Polish at http://www.mateusztalbot.pl, has asked us and his readers to pray to Venerable Matt Talbot for his health. He has entered a hospital with anemia which threatens his life. 
Thank you, Grzegorz, for alerting us, and we will certainly do so.


UPDATE:  Grzegorz has been released from the hospital and is now home as of two days ago. However, he remains quite weak as he continues treatment and will not return to his Matt Talbot sites until his strength permits.
Please keep him in your prayers. 

January 2017 Update:  Grzegorz has returned to the hospital for surgery.  Please continue to pray for him.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Many Faces of Addiction

By Mike Latona
Catholic Courier, Rochester, NY

EDITOR'S NOTE: The names of some people interviewed for this story were withheld in order to protect their privacy.


The many faces of addiction

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier
EDITOR'S NOTE: The names of some people interviewed for this story were withheld in order to protect their privacy.
You avoid abusing drugs and alcohol. That means you're not prone to addiction, right?
Before making that assumption, it may be worth asking yourself if you:
* Can't tear yourself away from your iPad or smart phone.
* Work 60 hours a week when you're not required to do so.
* Never manage to pass the supermarket lottery machine without dropping several dollars.
* Are so involved with your local church or social/fraternal organization that you often miss dinner with your spouse and children.
* Engage so frequently in other activities -- even those that may seem harmless or even admirable -- that your job, relationships, financial state and/or health are put at risk.
Deacon Gregory Doyle, who in 1981 founded Rochester's Matt Talbot Ministries to assist people with addictive behaviors and those affected by them, said his staff has been dealing in recent years with an expanded variety of addictions as science and social change have broadened the definition of addiction. Now included on the list of potential additions -- along with drinking and drugs -- are sex/pornography, the Internet, shopping, religion, sugar, gambling, caffeine, nicotine, work, television, reading, performance/exercise, stealing, food, perfectionism, relationships, control, laziness, manipulation, caretaking and lying.
Deacon Doyle and his daughter-in-law, Lauren, the executive director of Matt Talbot Ministries, explained that addiction occurs when one's life has become unmanageable and out of balance.
Social worker and counselor Ann Domingos, who has worked primarily with drug and alcohol addicts, agreed that the addictive mind works the same regardless of what has overtaken it.
"Addiction is addiction is addiction," said Domingos, who recently stepped down as director of Mercycare Addiction Treatment Center, a service of Hornell's St. James Mercy Hospital.
We're all prone to addiction simply because of our humanness, the Doyles observed, while Domingos pointed out that she's worked with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and life circumstances.
"Addiction does not care where you come from," she remarked.
Loss of control
An addictive substance or activity provides feelings of pleasure or relief from pain, Domingos said, noting that the frequency of usage increases as addicts build their world around their addictions -- even when they're aware of the negative consequences.
"If someone is addicted, the rational part of your brain does not override the chemical piece of your brain," she said. "If you keep chasing that feeling, eventually you're going to (experience) a knee operation if it's running, credit-card debt if you're shopping, losing your family if you're always at work."
She observed that addiction starts out slowly, beginning with sporadic activity before becoming a habit and then a compulsion: "There's a progression to it; that's why there's denial. People lose control without really knowing that they've lost the control."
While it's hard to predict who will become addicts and who won't, Domingos said that many people have genetic dispositions that increase the likelihood of addiction. She added that addictions can overlap with compulsions and such mental conditions as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Meanwhile, the Doyles noted that addiction can go beyond a dependence on substances or activities, surfacing as well within interpersonal relationships. Caretaking, for instance, "can go overboard. Nothing is left for you, your kids or God," Lauren Doyle said.
Theresa and Gary (not their real names) found this to be the case after they began visiting Matt Talbot Ministries nearly 20 years ago, as they struggled to cope with the drug and alcohol addictions of their two sons. Through their sessions there, they discovered that they, also, were addicted -- to caretaking. Theresa and Gary came to realize they'd fallen into codependency. Despite their good intentions, they had become so involved in their caretaking roles that they were ignoring their own needs and not helping their sons move toward recovery.
"It's easy to make excuses for them -- 'Sorry, he didn't feel well today' -- and believe that it's all going to be OK," Theresa said. "It's well-meaning, but it's misplaced well-meaning. We didn't want to see it. You kind of protect yourself from that kind of thing."
Theresa learned how to "not put yourself in a situation where you're focusing on these problems to where it takes your own sense of value away. Somehow you have to stop that chaos and live your life, and you let the (sons) go and let them find answers."
Gary added that he's now aware that "with addiction, those who are dealing with the addict are often the ones who have to change."
Spirituality in recovery
In order for such change to begin, Matt Talbot Ministries digs in on the four "Ds" -- denial, defense, delusion and dysfunction -- all of which stand in the way of honestly viewing the extent of an addiction.
"You have to be willing to acknowledge and accept your own stuff," Lauren Doyle said. Yet she said that with many addictions, "people think they're normal. They don't see the unmanageability." Rather, she said, they may focus on the addictions of others, such as celebrities: "They think, 'I'm not one of those.' They have an image of other people being worse."
Domingos added that addicts naturally dig in their heels because they can't bear the thought of parting with their addictions. Yet she said if they do seek help, that signals a crack in the facade that makes recovery possible.
"People don't want to stop their addiction until the consequences generally are painful," said Domingos, who left St. James Mercy in mid-August to become vice president of support services for Arbor Development, a housing agency in Bath for people in need.
"What happens for people is that the addiction stops working for them," Domingos continued. "It starts out as a tool for them but it stops working. Really, what they want to give up is the pain that's associated with it -- the pain for them, their families, their employers. I could write a book; some of it is very heartbreaking."
Mercycare and Matt Talbot Ministries employ many components of the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous. Among those steps are for the addict to admit powerlessness over the addiction; acknowledge a higher power to provide strength in recovery; and address past errors and make amends for them. Domingos also noted the importance of identifying the underlying feelings and circumstances that may have sparked the addiction.
Spirituality is the cornerstone of the nondenominational Matt Talbot Ministries, which depends less on science and psychology than many other rehabilitation services. The Doyles said their ministerial experience has shown their approach to be highly effective in recovery.
"That's why we're in business," Deacon Doyle said, explaining that addicts may feel recovery is impossible until they come to believe that with God, anything is possible.
"They can stop if they commit themselves to God," he stated. "On your own you can't stop, period."
"When you reach into the spirit, it's entirely different," Theresa added.
Toward serenity
Deacon Doyle said he believes addictive behavior is an essentially selfish act -- and that in order to restore a healthy spiritual balance to one's life, the addict must become more focused on the needs of others. In the process to remove all temptations, he noted, the addict also will have to alter his or her environment and social circles.
"Your friends change when you get into recovery," Deacon Doyle said.
But making such profound changes is a mighty tall order in the face of temptation and withdrawal symptoms. Thus, Domingos and the Doyles acknowledged that recovery is not guaranteed and that the specter of relapse may never be far away.
"People think, 'I've got this licked, I know when to stop.' Then they start all over again," Lauren Doyle said. "A lot of people don't want to commit. They don't want to follow the discipline you need in good recovery."
Theresa, Gary and their sons have managed to stick to their disciplines in recent years, and as a result "everybody is in recovery and doing well," Theresa said. Yet she said she doesn't assume that addiction won't flare up again, so she approaches all their recoveries as a daily process. Lauren Doyle said this is a wise mind-set, stressing the importance of meditation, prayer, exercise and attendance at support meetings in maintaining recovery and serenity.
The Doyles said they've seen numerous success stories over the years. Deacon Doyle, for instance, keeps in touch with a sexaholic who has begun a successful support ministry for other sex addicts, and with an alcoholic priest from another diocese who has returned to parish ministry "happy and content as can be."
"Many people still call us, living their lives with a lot of joy," Lauren Doyle said.
Deacon Doyle said people who have contact with addicts can play an important role in recovery as well, by understanding the stranglehold of addiction and not expecting the addicts to suddenly drop their destructive behaviors. Domingos agreed, saying addicts stand a better chance of recovery if those around them appreciate "the humanity behind addiction" and offer support rather than criticism.
"These are human beings who are just trying to, for the most part, live their life the way anybody else is. They all had the same dreams and aspirations as young people. I mean, addicts are not bad people. And I think a lot of society views them as bad people," Domingos said. "I truly don't believe that 99.5 percent of the addicted population wants to be addicted."
- See more at: http://catholiccourier.com/in-depth/health/previous-stories/the-many-faces-of-addiction/?keywords=matt%20talbot&tag=&searchSectionID=#sthash.leB4x42L.dpuf

The many faces of addiction

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier
EDITOR'S NOTE: The names of some people interviewed for this story were withheld in order to protect their privacy.
You avoid abusing drugs and alcohol. That means you're not prone to addiction, right?
Before making that assumption, it may be worth asking yourself if you:
* Can't tear yourself away from your iPad or smart phone.
* Work 60 hours a week when you're not required to do so.
* Never manage to pass the supermarket lottery machine without dropping several dollars.
* Are so involved with your local church or social/fraternal organization that you often miss dinner with your spouse and children.
* Engage so frequently in other activities -- even those that may seem harmless or even admirable -- that your job, relationships, financial state and/or health are put at risk.
Deacon Gregory Doyle, who in 1981 founded Rochester's Matt Talbot Ministries to assist people with addictive behaviors and those affected by them, said his staff has been dealing in recent years with an expanded variety of addictions as science and social change have broadened the definition of addiction. Now included on the list of potential additions -- along with drinking and drugs -- are sex/pornography, the Internet, shopping, religion, sugar, gambling, caffeine, nicotine, work, television, reading, performance/exercise, stealing, food, perfectionism, relationships, control, laziness, manipulation, caretaking and lying.
Deacon Doyle and his daughter-in-law, Lauren, the executive director of Matt Talbot Ministries, explained that addiction occurs when one's life has become unmanageable and out of balance.
Social worker and counselor Ann Domingos, who has worked primarily with drug and alcohol addicts, agreed that the addictive mind works the same regardless of what has overtaken it.
"Addiction is addiction is addiction," said Domingos, who recently stepped down as director of Mercycare Addiction Treatment Center, a service of Hornell's St. James Mercy Hospital.
We're all prone to addiction simply because of our humanness, the Doyles observed, while Domingos pointed out that she's worked with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and life circumstances.
"Addiction does not care where you come from," she remarked.
Loss of control
An addictive substance or activity provides feelings of pleasure or relief from pain, Domingos said, noting that the frequency of usage increases as addicts build their world around their addictions -- even when they're aware of the negative consequences.
"If someone is addicted, the rational part of your brain does not override the chemical piece of your brain," she said. "If you keep chasing that feeling, eventually you're going to (experience) a knee operation if it's running, credit-card debt if you're shopping, losing your family if you're always at work."
She observed that addiction starts out slowly, beginning with sporadic activity before becoming a habit and then a compulsion: "There's a progression to it; that's why there's denial. People lose control without really knowing that they've lost the control."
While it's hard to predict who will become addicts and who won't, Domingos said that many people have genetic dispositions that increase the likelihood of addiction. She added that addictions can overlap with compulsions and such mental conditions as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Meanwhile, the Doyles noted that addiction can go beyond a dependence on substances or activities, surfacing as well within interpersonal relationships. Caretaking, for instance, "can go overboard. Nothing is left for you, your kids or God," Lauren Doyle said.
Theresa and Gary (not their real names) found this to be the case after they began visiting Matt Talbot Ministries nearly 20 years ago, as they struggled to cope with the drug and alcohol addictions of their two sons. Through their sessions there, they discovered that they, also, were addicted -- to caretaking. Theresa and Gary came to realize they'd fallen into codependency. Despite their good intentions, they had become so involved in their caretaking roles that they were ignoring their own needs and not helping their sons move toward recovery.
"It's easy to make excuses for them -- 'Sorry, he didn't feel well today' -- and believe that it's all going to be OK," Theresa said. "It's well-meaning, but it's misplaced well-meaning. We didn't want to see it. You kind of protect yourself from that kind of thing."
Theresa learned how to "not put yourself in a situation where you're focusing on these problems to where it takes your own sense of value away. Somehow you have to stop that chaos and live your life, and you let the (sons) go and let them find answers."
Gary added that he's now aware that "with addiction, those who are dealing with the addict are often the ones who have to change."
Spirituality in recovery
In order for such change to begin, Matt Talbot Ministries digs in on the four "Ds" -- denial, defense, delusion and dysfunction -- all of which stand in the way of honestly viewing the extent of an addiction.
"You have to be willing to acknowledge and accept your own stuff," Lauren Doyle said. Yet she said that with many addictions, "people think they're normal. They don't see the unmanageability." Rather, she said, they may focus on the addictions of others, such as celebrities: "They think, 'I'm not one of those.' They have an image of other people being worse."
Domingos added that addicts naturally dig in their heels because they can't bear the thought of parting with their addictions. Yet she said if they do seek help, that signals a crack in the facade that makes recovery possible.
"People don't want to stop their addiction until the consequences generally are painful," said Domingos, who left St. James Mercy in mid-August to become vice president of support services for Arbor Development, a housing agency in Bath for people in need.
"What happens for people is that the addiction stops working for them," Domingos continued. "It starts out as a tool for them but it stops working. Really, what they want to give up is the pain that's associated with it -- the pain for them, their families, their employers. I could write a book; some of it is very heartbreaking."
Mercycare and Matt Talbot Ministries employ many components of the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous. Among those steps are for the addict to admit powerlessness over the addiction; acknowledge a higher power to provide strength in recovery; and address past errors and make amends for them. Domingos also noted the importance of identifying the underlying feelings and circumstances that may have sparked the addiction.
Spirituality is the cornerstone of the nondenominational Matt Talbot Ministries, which depends less on science and psychology than many other rehabilitation services. The Doyles said their ministerial experience has shown their approach to be highly effective in recovery.
"That's why we're in business," Deacon Doyle said, explaining that addicts may feel recovery is impossible until they come to believe that with God, anything is possible.
"They can stop if they commit themselves to God," he stated. "On your own you can't stop, period."
"When you reach into the spirit, it's entirely different," Theresa added.
Toward serenity
Deacon Doyle said he believes addictive behavior is an essentially selfish act -- and that in order to restore a healthy spiritual balance to one's life, the addict must become more focused on the needs of others. In the process to remove all temptations, he noted, the addict also will have to alter his or her environment and social circles.
"Your friends change when you get into recovery," Deacon Doyle said.
But making such profound changes is a mighty tall order in the face of temptation and withdrawal symptoms. Thus, Domingos and the Doyles acknowledged that recovery is not guaranteed and that the specter of relapse may never be far away.
"People think, 'I've got this licked, I know when to stop.' Then they start all over again," Lauren Doyle said. "A lot of people don't want to commit. They don't want to follow the discipline you need in good recovery."
Theresa, Gary and their sons have managed to stick to their disciplines in recent years, and as a result "everybody is in recovery and doing well," Theresa said. Yet she said she doesn't assume that addiction won't flare up again, so she approaches all their recoveries as a daily process. Lauren Doyle said this is a wise mind-set, stressing the importance of meditation, prayer, exercise and attendance at support meetings in maintaining recovery and serenity.
The Doyles said they've seen numerous success stories over the years. Deacon Doyle, for instance, keeps in touch with a sexaholic who has begun a successful support ministry for other sex addicts, and with an alcoholic priest from another diocese who has returned to parish ministry "happy and content as can be."
"Many people still call us, living their lives with a lot of joy," Lauren Doyle said.
Deacon Doyle said people who have contact with addicts can play an important role in recovery as well, by understanding the stranglehold of addiction and not expecting the addicts to suddenly drop their destructive behaviors. Domingos agreed, saying addicts stand a better chance of recovery if those around them appreciate "the humanity behind addiction" and offer support rather than criticism.
"These are human beings who are just trying to, for the most part, live their life the way anybody else is. They all had the same dreams and aspirations as young people. I mean, addicts are not bad people. And I think a lot of society views them as bad people," Domingos said. "I truly don't believe that 99.5 percent of the addicted population wants to be addicted."
- See more at: http://catholiccourier.com/in-depth/health/previous-stories/the-many-faces-of-addiction/?keywords=matt%20talbot&tag=&searchSectionID=#sthash.leB4x42L.dpuf
You avoid abusing drugs and alcohol. That means you're not prone to addiction, right?

Before making that assumption, it may be worth asking yourself if you:
* Can't tear yourself away from your iPad or smart phone.
* Work 60 hours a week when you're not required to do so.
* Never manage to pass the supermarket lottery machine without dropping several dollars.
* Are so involved with your local church or social/fraternal organization that you often miss dinner with your spouse and children.
* Engage so frequently in other activities -- even those that may seem harmless or even admirable -- that your job, relationships, financial state and/or health are put at risk.

Deacon Gregory Doyle, who in 1981 founded Rochester's Matt Talbot Ministries to assist people with addictive behaviors and those affected by them, said his staff has been dealing in recent years with an expanded variety of addictions as science and social change have broadened the definition of addiction. Now included on the list of potential additions -- along with drinking and drugs -- are sex/pornography, the Internet, shopping, religion, sugar, gambling, caffeine, nicotine, work, television, reading, performance/exercise, stealing, food, perfectionism, relationships, control, laziness, manipulation, caretaking and lying.

Deacon Doyle and his daughter-in-law, Lauren, the executive director of Matt Talbot Ministries, explained that addiction occurs when one's life has become unmanageable and out of balance.

Social worker and counselor Ann Domingos, who has worked primarily with drug and alcohol addicts, agreed that the addictive mind works the same regardless of what has overtaken it.

"Addiction is addiction is addiction," said Domingos, who recently stepped down as director of Mercycare Addiction Treatment Center, a service of Hornell's St. James Mercy Hospital.

We're all prone to addiction simply because of our humanness, the Doyles observed, while Domingos pointed out that she's worked with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and life circumstances.

"Addiction does not care where you come from," she remarked.

Loss of control

An addictive substance or activity provides feelings of pleasure or relief from pain, Domingos said, noting that the frequency of usage increases as addicts build their world around their addictions -- even when they're aware of the negative consequences.

"If someone is addicted, the rational part of your brain does not override the chemical piece of your brain," she said. "If you keep chasing that feeling, eventually you're going to (experience) a knee operation if it's running, credit-card debt if you're shopping, losing your family if you're always at work."
She observed that addiction starts out slowly, beginning with sporadic activity before becoming a habit and then a compulsion: "There's a progression to it; that's why there's denial. People lose control without really knowing that they've lost the control."

While it's hard to predict who will become addicts and who won't, Domingos said that many people have genetic dispositions that increase the likelihood of addiction. She added that addictions can overlap with compulsions and such mental conditions as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Meanwhile, the Doyles noted that addiction can go beyond a dependence on substances or activities, surfacing as well within interpersonal relationships. Caretaking, for instance, "can go overboard. Nothing is left for you, your kids or God," Lauren Doyle said.

Theresa and Gary (not their real names) found this to be the case after they began visiting Matt Talbot Ministries nearly 20 years ago, as they struggled to cope with the drug and alcohol addictions of their two sons. Through their sessions there, they discovered that they, also, were addicted -- to caretaking. Theresa and Gary came to realize they'd fallen into codependency. Despite their good intentions, they had become so involved in their caretaking roles that they were ignoring their own needs and not helping their sons move toward recovery.

"It's easy to make excuses for them -- 'Sorry, he didn't feel well today' -- and believe that it's all going to be OK," Theresa said. "It's well-meaning, but it's misplaced well-meaning. We didn't want to see it. You kind of protect yourself from that kind of thing."

Theresa learned how to "not put yourself in a situation where you're focusing on these problems to where it takes your own sense of value away. Somehow you have to stop that chaos and live your life, and you let the (sons) go and let them find answers."

Gary added that he's now aware that "with addiction, those who are dealing with the addict are often the ones who have to change."

Spirituality in recovery

In order for such change to begin, Matt Talbot Ministries digs in on the four "Ds" -- denial, defense, delusion and dysfunction -- all of which stand in the way of honestly viewing the extent of an addiction.

"You have to be willing to acknowledge and accept your own stuff," Lauren Doyle said. Yet she said that with many addictions, "people think they're normal. They don't see the unmanageability." Rather, she said, they may focus on the addictions of others, such as celebrities: "They think, 'I'm not one of those.' They have an image of other people being worse."

Domingos added that addicts naturally dig in their heels because they can't bear the thought of parting with their addictions. Yet she said if they do seek help, that signals a crack in the facade that makes recovery possible.

"People don't want to stop their addiction until the consequences generally are painful," said Domingos, who left St. James Mercy in mid-August to become vice president of support services for Arbor Development, a housing agency in Bath for people in need.

"What happens for people is that the addiction stops working for them," Domingos continued. "It starts out as a tool for them but it stops working. Really, what they want to give up is the pain that's associated with it -- the pain for them, their families, their employers. I could write a book; some of it is very heartbreaking."

Mercycare and Matt Talbot Ministries employ many components of the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous. Among those steps are for the addict to admit powerlessness over the addiction; acknowledge a higher power to provide strength in recovery; and address past errors and make amends for them. Domingos also noted the importance of identifying the underlying feelings and circumstances that may have sparked the addiction.

Spirituality is the cornerstone of the nondenominational Matt Talbot Ministries, which depends less on science and psychology than many other rehabilitation services. The Doyles said their ministerial experience has shown their approach to be highly effective in recovery.

"That's why we're in business," Deacon Doyle said, explaining that addicts may feel recovery is impossible until they come to believe that with God, anything is possible.

"They can stop if they commit themselves to God," he stated. "On your own you can't stop, period."

"When you reach into the spirit, it's entirely different," Theresa added.

Toward serenity

Deacon Doyle said he believes addictive behavior is an essentially selfish act -- and that in order to restore a healthy spiritual balance to one's life, the addict must become more focused on the needs of others. In the process to remove all temptations, he noted, the addict also will have to alter his or her environment and social circles.

"Your friends change when you get into recovery," Deacon Doyle said.
But making such profound changes is a mighty tall order in the face of temptation and withdrawal symptoms. Thus, Domingos and the Doyles acknowledged that recovery is not guaranteed and that the specter of relapse may never be far away.

"People think, 'I've got this licked, I know when to stop.' Then they start all over again," Lauren Doyle said. "A lot of people don't want to commit. They don't want to follow the discipline you need in good recovery."

Theresa, Gary and their sons have managed to stick to their disciplines in recent years, and as a result "everybody is in recovery and doing well," Theresa said. Yet she said she doesn't assume that addiction won't flare up again, so she approaches all their recoveries as a daily process. Lauren Doyle said this is a wise mind-set, stressing the importance of meditation, prayer, exercise and attendance at support meetings in maintaining recovery and serenity.

The Doyles said they've seen numerous success stories over the years. Deacon Doyle, for instance, keeps in touch with a sexaholic who has begun a successful support ministry for other sex addicts, and with an alcoholic priest from another diocese who has returned to parish ministry "happy and content as can be."

"Many people still call us, living their lives with a lot of joy," Lauren Doyle said.
Deacon Doyle said people who have contact with addicts can play an important role in recovery as well, by understanding the stranglehold of addiction and not expecting the addicts to suddenly drop their destructive behaviors. Domingos agreed, saying addicts stand a better chance of recovery if those around them appreciate "the humanity behind addiction" and offer support rather than criticism.

"These are human beings who are just trying to, for the most part, live their life the way anybody else is. They all had the same dreams and aspirations as young people. I mean, addicts are not bad people. And I think a lot of society views them as bad people," Domingos said. "I truly don't believe that 99.5 percent of the addicted population wants to be addicted."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Venerable Matt Talbot: A Fool for Christ



In a series of video presentations titled, Fools for Christ: Stories of the Saints, host  Ray Boisvenue, SFO provides an eight minute introduction to the life of Venerable Matt Talbot, which was posted October 2016 at https://vimeo.com/188983314