Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Servant of God: Matt Talbot

Readers are invited to submit their own writing as well as links by others regarding Venerable Matt Talbot.
 
 

The Servant Of God
(Matt Talbot).


Silhouetted beneath the shimmering January moon,
a lone pilgrim, his bare knees,
kissing the penitential cold of granite stone,
awaits entry to the re-enactment,
of the perpetual drama.


Not so alas in his youthful days,
for those hands now clasped in prayer,
with reckless ease were wrapped around,
the “drink”, and all it’s snares.
From tavern to drunken tavern,
stumble, stagger, fall,
when the demon’s cravings had stripped him bare,
’twas the You gave the call.

With hands buried deep in penniless pockets,
on Newcomen bridge he took his stand,
pleading eyes from sunken sockets,
awaited in vain a welcoming glance.
A mother’s prayers had at last been answered,
from the debts of despair a glimmer of light,
a bitter experience of human friendship,
shattered he sighed, and sought comfort in flight.


By the fireside she sat, as she heard him exclaim
“mother ,mother I’m home,
startled she cried, “Matt, what is it, what’s wrong?
“I’m taking the pledge”, he intoned.
“Go now in God’s name, but only if you intend to keep it”,
for she well knew his heavy load.
“I’ll go in God’s name, as he took,
his first faltering steps down the straight and narrow road ,


“Bless me Father for I have sinned,” a new life of grace lay ahead,
Three months, six, finally for life,
many tears of repentance were shed.
Temptation, isolation, discouragement, pain,
the chains of indulgence proved strong,
but his spiritual food, now his daily diet
proved stronger as the battle raged on.


Instead of drink, now Matt consumed,
the fruits of kindred souls,
Augustine, Wisdom, the book of Psalms,
Our Lady, many secrets to Matt did unfold,
Fasting, solitude, alms giving, prayer,
as he rises from his wooden bed,
four hours sleep, his vigil he’d keep,
eternity, to lay down his head.


To the casual eye in the builder’s yard,
nothing unwonted seemed done,
to the wiry little man who carried and fetched,
in wind, rain, and sun.
Bot deep within the Master’s hand,
to reshape and rebuild had begun,
‘Till out of the debts came the constant refrain,
“Thy will, Thy will be it done”


Down Granby Lane, on the seventh of June,
this foot soldier stumbled and fell,
of the milling crowd that gathered around,
his identity, no one could tell.
In Jervis street hospital,bound in chains of love,
laid bare, this pilgrim who carried the hod,
Providence’s design would reveal in good time,
he was truly a Servant of God.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot Life Poster



 


The catholic company which launched this poster and whose  ministry is entrusted to the patronage of St. Maximilian Kolbe, is based in Steubenville, Ohio, USA at


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Reference to Matt Talbot Was Once Banned in Yugoslavia

Very active Venerable Matt Talbot promoter Gregory Jakielski posted the following item yesterday at:
 
‘In 1960 the Yugoslav police accused of subversive action a person who spoke about Matt Talbot and the Procurator-General forbad the distribution of his biography because he considered it dangerous to the social and political foundations of the State.

Fortunately we do not face such penalties.
Therefore, i invite you to spread information about Matt Talbot.
Invite your friends to like the site and share posts on your site.”



Note: Two references about the above incident can be found at
http://pamphlets.org.au/docs/cts/australia/pdf/acts1751.pdf
https://issuu.com/aidtothechurchinneed/docs/matt_talbot_times

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Holy Man of Dublin


Holy Man of Dublin
By James J. Murphy
ALEMBIC, pages 27-36
May 1941

Some men build on sand and fail miserably; others patiently seek out sturdy rocks on which to establish lasting monu­ments. Matt Talbot, the model Irish layman, was of the latter type. He had tasted of the food of the world, nay had gorged himself with it, only to find it wanting. Then, in despair and utter humility, he turned to God for sustenance.

There was nothing extraordinary in Matt’s birth. He was born in 1856 and enjoyed all the advantages that typical God­ fearing Irish parents bring. He lived  in Dublin and, with the eleven other children in the family, was educated, worked, and died there. Love of the rosary was daily fostered as the family
group gathered for evening prayer. There are no legends or novel tales about his boyhood. When only twelve, he left the Christian Brothers’ school and secured a position as a messenger for a wine company. Here we trace his fall.

Still only a lad, Matt began to drink. With the same thoroughness that later marked his conversion he attempted to satisfy his insatiable and destructive craving. He received ad­vances on his salary to purchase more and more of the new center of his existence. He pawned his clothes. He borrowed money. Finally he came to depend on the charity of friends who were moved by his pitiful state. When unbridled, man’s desires wreak havoc. Matt Talbot proved no exception. Bitter, scorned, and dejected, he was a veritable slave by his twenty-eighth birth­day. An outcast of society, his future was an infinite sea of blackness. But the ways of grace are strange.

Whether an unconquerable conscience moved him, or the beseechings of his pious mother, or simply disgust with himself can only be speculated. At any rate, in this period of his life he began the great transformation. Seemingly on the spur of the moment he declared that he would take the pledge. A spark
of determination was ignited in him and, with the fervent en­couragement of his prayerful mother, he abstained from drink for three months, then for a year, and finally for the rest of his days.

Let us not imagine that this was a simple procedure. Old and enticing habits are not as easily discarded or changed as a suit or a tie. A definite, slow, painful process must be followed. Victory and peace of soul are found many times in retreat, in withdrawing from the forces that would destroy and 
contami­nate. 

The humble man of Dublin sought this avenue of escape.
He resolved to avoid his old sinful haunts. He secured another
position whereby he could more easily carry out his difficult
task. He mapped out certain routes which took him away from
the taverns and saloons. Most important, he turned to prayer,
and thus we see him more and more devoting himself to the
things of God as the old passions viciously made final bids for
his scarred and battle-worn soul. Through it all Matt remained
steadfast.

Daily Mass, countless acts of charity, repeated visits to church, sympathy and good cheer for his fellow workers were all in the order of the day. The time outside of his working hours was spent in deep meditation and spiritual reading. He read chiefly the Bible, Cardinal Newman’s works and the Medi­tations of Saint Francis de Sales. Over and above these edifying acts the returning prodigal sought stricter means of chastisement. Matt felt that just as he had gone to the extreme in his vice he should now use all means that would draw him closer to his Master. The strict fasts and bodily disciplines, emblematic of the lives of saints, were zealously carried out by him. The few hours that he did sleep he slept on a board with chains wrapped around his legs and arms. In almsgiving he was most conscien­tious, sometimes keeping a mere fraction of his pay for himself. And with all of his austere practices he logically retained his true Irish cheerfulness for he was at peace with God and himself.

The years slipped by and Matt grew spiritually stronger and stronger. So it is that we find him ready and willing for death. The culmination of his unflinching struggle occurred on June 7, 1925, outside of Saint Saviour’s Church which is
conducted by the Dominicans. As he was waiting for the church to be opened he was suddenly overtaken by a heart attack and passed away, piously gazing upon a crucifix held by a Dominican father. In his passing he was calm and unafraid, for in his life he felt and knew the mercy of God.

No greater summation or praise of Matt Talbot could be given than that expressed by Mr. F. J. Sheed: “There is no looking at Matt Talbot without feeling that he is a perfect example of the Irish people at prayer: not one sort of Irishman but the Irishman as such— the Irishman stripped down to his
Catholicism.” To the Irish especially he is a lovable character for, as one of their countrymen, he typifies their distinctive faith and perseverance. To the world in general he offers a stirring example of a solid character sanely balancing the material and the spiritual. His great contribution to mankind was a good life simply lived and calmly ended. In the midst of chaos,
over-indulgence, and greed, we could well use more Matt Talbots.




Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Recovery Poem

One speaker at the 2018 Matt Talbot Novena in The Way of the Cross Church, Togher, Cork was Hanna Costello. “Her talk related to how she came to recovery herself when dealing with alcoholism in her family. The man mentioned in the poem which follows has now gone to his eternal reward.”

RECOVERY
by Hanna Costello
 
I still thank God, that no-one drank at home, when I was small
We always kept some bottles in a press out in the hall
They were for the visitors, who came just once a year
And also for the postman, at Christmas for good cheer.
 
My family never took a drop and so I didn't know
That it wasn't always merry, but a great depressing low
That changed the personality, and radiated fear
And often isolated those addicted to the Beer.

Well, I grew up and fell in love with a man so true and kind
And I thought I'd change his habits. It’s true that "love is blind"
No matter what was going on, the drink was always first
And even after ten of them, it did not quench his thirst.

The love was fading fast but the children-had arrived
My concern for them was such, I feared they'd be deprived
He was a loving Dad in between the bouts
But I couldn't always shield them from the quarrels and the shouts.

"Relationship" I knew not, it was loneliness and fear
Not knowing what was wrong, while obsessed with him and beer
If it weren't for my little six, there’s no way I’d have stayed
There was no one there to help me, not even when I prayed.

Then I reached ‘Rock Bottom’; it was either up or out
When help came to our home, an Angel I've no doubt
"Didn't cause, can't control, Definitely cannot cure"
Lifted such a burden, I listened that's for sure.
 
Now I'm in recovery and there I'll always stay
Getting rid of my obsessions; getting better day by day
Because alcohol addiction had far more power than I
It was only when the Angel came that I ate humble pie.


The man I love is sober' now, one day at a time
And our borne is filled with happiness, Serenity is mine
I consider it a miracle, that I'm back from the brink
Of depression and obsession; of insanity and drink.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Matt Talbot Let Go and Let God

" What strikes me about Matt Talbot and the reason the church is considering his cause for sainthood is this: he is a model of Christian life and holiness not because things came easy for him, but precisely because in poverty, addiction, desperation and utter helplessness he gave himself entirely to God; not because he achieved something great, but because he allowed God to achieve something great in him. He could have given up, but instead he gave himself to God. In other words, he is a striking example that God wants what is best for us and asks that we cooperate with his grace, with what he is lovingly doing for us and in us. The struggle to do so —to let go and let God— can be mighty indeed. "

          ( By Archbishop J. Peter Sartain , 2007)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot’s Road from Despair to Redemption

 

Venerable Matt Talbot – The Road from Despair to Redemption
October 10, 2018
The name of Matt Talbot is a very familiar one, especially to Dubliners and those of us who regularly pass through Granby Lane. However he is an inspiration to countless people and has become an icon for the Pioneer Total Abstinence Movement.

Matt was born on May 2, 1856. His father was a heavy drinker and because of this the large family were neglected. Matt like so many others of his time turned to alcohol as a way of deadening the misery and poverty of daily life. Back in those days in Ireland, children were not obliged to go to school. His drinking began aged twelve when he became a messenger boy for Messrs. Edward and John Burke, wine merchants. Matt used to take dregs from the bottom of bottles. He later admitted that from his early teens to his late twenties his only aim in life was heavy drinking.

When his wages were spent he borrowed and scrounged for money. He supplemented his earnings by minding horses outside a tavern and waiting for the owners to tip him on their departure. He pawned his clothes and boots. On one lamentable occasion he was drinking with friends when a blind fiddle player joined them. Matt stole the fiddle thereby depriving the poor man of his livelihood. The incident haunted him and years later he searched the city for the poor musician. Unable to find him he had Masses offered for his sake in restitution. By the time he was twenty-eight he was on the road to self-destruction, refusing to listen to his mother’s pleas to stop drinking.

The Pledge

 

Then an incident occurred. One day utterly broke he loitered outside O’Meara’s pub hoping that his friends for whom he had often bought drink would take pity on him and invite him in with them. However most ignored him. This was a moment of humiliation which years later he admitted had “cut to the heart”. Making his way home slowly his mother was amazed to see him sober and became even more so when he told her it was his intention to take the pledge.

At that time if you wanted to stop drinking the custom was to take a solemn pledge before a priest to abstain for a period of time. He went to Holy Cross Church where he asked for confession and took the pledge. The priest advised him to abstain from drink for 90 days and then revise the situation. These were 90 days of sheer hell. Now we are aware of the withdrawal symptoms of addiction and there is help available. There was no support then and Matt had to endure the sufferings, hallucinations, tremors, depression and nausea alone.

The Road to Redemption

 

Matt with time on his hands began to walk in the evenings. On one occasion passing Bushe’s Public House he was drawn in by the beer fumes wafting out. However he was a stranger and the bar man was too busy serving the locals to bother with him. Ignored he stormed off and ended up in a Jesuit Church nearby where he made a second solemn pledge; this time to abstain from drink for the rest of his life. This experience led to another resolution never to carry any money.

Dropping into churches became a way of life. At first they were places that substituted for the bars and taverns but gradually Matt, who was suffering terribly, began to pray to God to help him persevere. The strict life of the early Irish monks with its emphasis on prayer, penance, humility and manual labour appealed to him and he embraced a totally new way of living. The austere way he lived is a challenge to us today. We live at a time when not only do people regard comfort as a right but they tend to put individual needs before the needs of others


Matt began to attend Mass regularly and to read religious books. He became a Third Order Franciscan in 1890 and was a member of several other associations and sodalities.


Matt used his wages to pay back his debts and what little remained he gave to others. He fasted regularly and when his mother died the little flat that became his home was sparsely furnished. Included was a plank bed with a piece of timber on which to lay his head.

Death

Matt was on his way to Mass in St Saviour' Church on Dominic Street on June 7th 1925 when he collapsed and died on Granby Lane. His life might have gone unnoticed were it not for the cords and chains discovered on his body. Inquiries revealed them to be a symbol of his devotion to Mary. The thinking was that a person who considered themselves a spiritual slave to the mother of God would remain close to her and to Jesus.

Following this discovery, allied to people’s experience of him, stories about his holiness began to spread. A process was put in place which culminated in Matt being declared Venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1975. If this opinion is confirmed by the miracles required by Canon Law, he will be declared a Saint.

Whether or not this comes to pass he will always remain an inspirational example of one man’s capacity to transform a long road of despair into one of redemption. Matt gives hope to those who share his addiction and who are inspired by his courage and faith. They know, he knew how difficult it is and can take courage from the fact that he still managed to find a way out of the darkness.

His shrine is located in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Sean MacDermott Street Lower in Dublin.


Note:  Photographs and prayers that accompany this article are available on the link.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Spirituality, Recovery & Prayer Booklets


Two informative (free) booklets can be read and/or downloaded from Guest House:

SPIRITUALITY and RECOVERY FROM ADDICTIONS
Mary Ellen Merrick, IHM, D. Min., MAC

Prayers and Reflections For Persons Suffering From Addiction and Their Loved Ones  https://www.dropbox.com/s/x49h89hf9g0521h/Guest%20House%20Prayer%20Booklet%20-%20PROOF%20%284%29-FINAL.pdf?dl=0

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Saint Paul VI and Venerable Matt Talbot

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In addition to six other Blesseds,  Pope Francis declared Pope Paul VI a saint today.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1920 and was named archbishop of Milan in 1954. He was elected pope in 1963 and died at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo on 6 August 1978. 

In her book, Remembering Matt Talbot, Mary Purcell wrote that during a visit to Ireland and staying at the presidential residence, Cardinal Montinni, the future Pope Paul VI, went to Glasnevin Cemetery to visit Matt Talbot’s grave. Not wanting to be recognized, he 
visited the cemetery by bike dressed as an ordinary priest, paid his respects to one whose life’s story he had read and in whose Cause he was deeply interested.

In a 1974 address in Rome to Calix Society members on the occasion of their twenty-fifth anniversary, Pope Paul VI” stated: “You have chosen to look upon Matt Talbot as an admirable exemplar of discipline and supernatural virtue. It is our hope that his success will encourage countless men and women throughout the world to realize the need for conversion, the possibility of real rehabilitation, the serenity of Christian reconciliation, and the peace and joy of helping others to overcome abuses, disorders and sin.” 

On 3 October 1975, Pope Paul VI proclaimed the treatise on the heroic virtues of Matt Talbot, giving the Dublin worker the title of "Venerable."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Prominence of God in Venerable Matt Talbot's Recovery

The author of this article serves on the Board of Trustees of Guest House in Michigan, which has been serving the Catholic Church for over six decades regarding information and treatment of addictions and other behavioral health conditions.
 

The God of Second Chances and the Venerable Matt Talbot
by Rev. Mark S. Stelzer, SThD
Education Director, Guest House
Sept 28, 2018
As we journey through life, we walk with a God who promises resurrection and new life, even this side of the grave. We walk with a God of Second Chances who allows U-turns on the road of life. We all know that U-turns can be painful. Yet, as the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous reminds us, pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth; it is the price of our admission to a new life. Although we instinctively run from pain, it is through our pain that God speaks. The challenge is to stay with our pain long enough to hear the voice of the God of Second Chances breaking through that pain and offering us new insight and new hope.

One very ordinary person whose life speaks powerfully of the God of Second Chances is Matt Talbot. Matt Talbot was born May 1856 in Dublin Ireland. He was one of twelve children. His father was a heavy drinker, and, as a result, the family grew up in poverty. Typical of his era, Matt spent just two years at school. There was no compulsory education, leaving Matt unable to read or write. He entered the workforce at age twelve, employed by E & J Burke, a firm which bottled beer. There, Matt began his drinking career and within two years came home drunk every day.

By the time he was in his twenties, Matt Talbot spent all his wages and spare time in O’Meara’s Tavern. As far as the neighbors in that area of Dublin were concerned, Matt was a habitual drunk. Today, with our understanding of the disease of addiction, there is little doubt that Matt was already a chronic alcoholic. He became a thief, once stealing a fiddle from a blind man. One Saturday, he came home with just one shilling from his wages to help his mother support the family. The rest he had spent drinking.

By the time he was twenty-eight, Matt was well on the path of self-destruction. An eye-opening moment forever changed his life. On a Saturday morning in 1884, he waited outside O’Meara’s without a penny in his pocket. His problem, he told himself, would be quickly solved. Because he had freely shared whatever money he had in the past with his drinking friends, Matt reasoned they would readily offer him money.

To Matt’s surprise, they did not. One by one his old friends passed by him. Some greeted him; others ignored him. Perhaps because he had scrounged money from them so often, they left him standing on the corner. Matt was stunned and shocked. Years later, he said he felt “cut to the heart.” In reality, this refusal by friends was a moment of grace. After some time thinking about his predicament, Matt realized that he was totally enslaved to alcohol. With God’s grace, he stopped drinking.

To fill in the time he used to spend in O’Meara’s Tavern, Matt started taking long walks, followed by a visit to a nearby Jesuit Church. Matt was not a religious person but gradually began to pray and to ask God to help him.

To find the strength to remain sober, Matt decided to attend Mass every morning before work and to receive Holy Communion. This was very unusual in the 1880’s when most lay people went to Mass just on Sunday and received Holy Communion only at Easter and Christmas. At the end of three months, Matt took the pledge to abstain from alcohol for six months, and he eventually took the pledge for life.

Matt Talbot began to direct all his efforts to deepening his union with God and developing a life of prayer. The strict ascetical life of the early Irish monks attracted him. Their love of prayer with an emphasis on penance, humility and manual labor dedicated to God appealed to him. Matt turned to a Jesuit priest, Father James Walsh, to help him. Matt soon began spending countless hours praying at home and, when not at home, in an obscure corner of a nearby church.

Matt Talbot died suddenly following a heart attack in Granby Lane on the way to Mass on Sunday, June 7, 1925. He was buried in a pauper’s grave a few days later. In 1975, the Church conferred on Matt Talbot the title “Venerable.” This honor makes him eligible for canonization as a saint.

In the pain and darkness of his addiction, Matt Talbot met the God of Second Chances who offered him a word of blessing and hope. Through the example of Matt Talbot, may we find the courage to name our pain and, in the process, meet the God of Second Chances offering us a word of blessing and hope.


Prayer to the Venerable Matt Talbot for Help Overcoming Addiction:
God of mercy, we confidently come to you in the name of your son Jesus Christ who ministered to all who came to him in need. Through the powerful intercession of your servant, Matt Talbot, give strength to all your children who are bound by the chains of addiction. Enfold them in your love and bless them with the gift of true peace. Look with compassion, Lord, on all who have lost health, relationships, careers and freedom due to addiction. Give them the assurance of your unfailing mercy and strengthen them in the hard work of recovery. To friends and family who care for them, grant patient understanding and a love that perseveres. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Author’s note: Matt Talbot biographical information adapted from: http://www.ballinteer.dublindiocese.ie/matt-talbot-story.htm

A previously posted article about the author is available at https://venerablematttalbotresourcecenter.blogspot.com/search?q=+Rev.+Mark+Stelzer+

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Growing In Holiness

However, most of the saints did not have dramatic experiences. As we have seen in the life of Matt Talbot, it was pain, disappointment, and a feeling of emptiness that pushed him into the arms of God. No matter what happened, the saints determined at some point to follow Jesus. A vacuum in their souls began to be filled, for they found the pearl of great price. They all changed their lives, some their state in life, but they did not get rid of their weaknesses. They fought harder, conquered more often and grew, like Jesus, “in grace and wisdom before God and men” (Luke 2:52).

In the Acts we see Peter’s vacillating spirit making him and everyone else miserable as he took so much time deciding the fate of the Gentiles. Paul’s temper flared quickly as he argued his point before the gathering of Apostles. John, called by Jesus a son of thunder, had little patience with those who would not follow Jesus.

In the lives of all the saints we find the following similarities:
  • love for God and neighbor,
  • determination to imitate Jesus,
  • an immediate rising after a fall,
  • a complete breakaway from grievous sin,
  • growth in virtue and prayer,
  • and the accomplishment of God’s Will.

These factors are available to every human being; they do not exclude imperfections and faults. We must make a distinction between faults and sins. A saintly person keeps the Commandments; however, he may possess various human qualities, dispositions that make the imitation of Jesus a sanctifying process. These weaknesses make him choose constantly between himself and God. It is in this emptying of oneself and the “putting on of Jesus” that he becomes holy.

Holiness is a “growth experience” and growth consists in advancing in knowledge, love, self-control and all those other imitable virtues of Jesus. We must not lose sight of holiness as we grow, for holiness only means that Jesus is more to us than anyone or anything else in the world. But this desire to belong entirely to God does not exclude being loving to our neighbor, compassionate, caring, patient and kind. Our desire to belong to God enhances all these virtues in our souls, increases our love for our neighbor and makes us more unselfish.

A housewife becomes holy by being a loving wife and mother, filled with compassion for her family because she is filled with the compassionate Jesus.

A husband and father becomes holy by being a good pro­vider, hardworking, honest and understanding because his model is the provident Jesus.

Both husband and wife become holy together as their love for Jesus grows. Love makes them see themselves and change those frailties that are not like their Model. In doing this, life together is less complicated and more loving and understanding. They are bound together by love and prayer, mutual striving and forgiving.

Children become holy by being obedient, thoughtful, joyful and loving. These qualities are maintained by grace and prayer.

Being faithful to the duties of one’s state in life and faithful to the grace of the moment are not as easy as they appear. Our temperament, weaknesses, society, work and even the weather clamor for our attention. Living a spiritual life in an unspiritual world and maintaining the principles of Jesus over the principles of this world is hard, but within reach of all. The paradox is that if we choose evil over good it is hell all the way to hell and that is harder.

Christianity is a way of life, a way of thought, a way of action that is contrary to the way of the world. This makes the Christian stand alone and it is this aloneness that discourages him from striving for holiness. However, it is this same aloneness that makes him stand out in a crowd. He becomes a beacon for those who do not enjoy the darkness, a light that enlightens the minds of all around him, a fire that warms cold hearts.

He struggles as all men struggle; he works, eats, sleeps, cries and laughs, but the spirit in which he accomplishes ordinary human needs and demands makes him holy. He does not always make the right decisions but he learns from his mistakes. He does not correspond to every grace, but he accepts his failures with humility and tries harder to be like the Master. He does not condone sin, and though he is ever aware of his own sinner condition, he loves his neighbor enough to correct him with gentleness when his soul is in danger.

He is free to have or have not, for his real treasure is Jesus and the invisible realities. He can possess with detachment or be dispossessed without bitterness.
He knows his Father well enough to entrust his past to His mercy. The Spirit is a friend who guides his steps and straight­ens the crooked paths ahead. His time and talents are spent in the imitation of Jesus in the ever present now.

The saint is the person who loves Jesus on a personal level; loves Him enough to want to be like Him in everyday life; loves Him enough to take on some of His loveable character­istics. Like Jesus, he lovingly accomplishes the Father’s Will, knowing that all things are turned to good because he is loved personally by such a great God.

Let us not be confused by the talents and missions of other Saints. Let us be the kind of saints we were created to be. There are no little or great saints — only men and women who struggled and prayed to be like Jesus — doing the Father’s Will from moment to moment wherever they are and whatever they are doing.

Saints are ordinary people with the compassion of the Father in their souls, the humility of Jesus in their minds and the love of the Spirit in their hearts. When these beautiful qualities grow day by day in everyday situations, holiness is born.

The Father gave His Son so we would become His children and heirs of His Kingdom. Jesus was born, lived and died and rose to show us the way to the Father. The Spirit gave us His gifts so we would be clothed with the jewels of virtue, the gold of love, the emeralds of hope and the brilliant diamonds of faith.

Let us not be content with the scotch tape and the aluminum foil of this world.

Be Holy — wherever you are!

 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The “Matt Talbot Hope Book” Journey Continues

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Gina Christian updates us at
At last! After a nonstop week in Dublin, Ireland at the World Meeting of Families, I've finally had a moment to share this picture of the Matt Talbot Hope Book at the shrine of Matt Talbot. All of the names you've sent were carefully written on these pages of this little book, which I placed with love and tears (quite a few!) on Matt's tomb just hours after Pope Francis had briefly stopped by on August 25. Security restrictions on the papal route through Dublin prevented me from being there when the Pope was (believe me, I tried and I cried!), but I did make it to the shrine that evening, and I spent quiet time in prayer for these precious souls in the notebook.

Now, this journey is far from over. The Matt Talbot Hope Book is back in the US for now, where it will be lifted up at a monthly Mass celebrated by Father Douglas McKay of Our House Ministries. We will continue to add names and print a second notebook if needed before we return to Ireland within the next 12 to 18 months ("please God," as our Irish friends would say). At that time, the book will be entrusted to Father Brian Lawless, the vice postulator of Matt's cause for canonization.

While kneeling before Matt's tomb, I discerned that our work here -- like the cause for Matt's canonization -- is still very much in process. We have much to do: names to add, sacrifices to make, prayers (many prayers) to lift up, and more souls to reach with the good news that Christ can and will heal addiction, if we will entrust ourselves and our loved ones fully to Him and do as He asks. We need to let those in bondage to addiction know that they are not worthless or hopeless; we need to fight for greater mental health treatment and insurance coverage; we need to stand up to corrupt pharmaceutical companies and transnational criminal networks that flood our nation with narcotics; we need to minister to families utterly brokenhearted and disillusioned by the cycle of addiction.

Please, my friends -- let's continue this journey together, and may Matt Talbot and all the saints and angels, guided by the Blessed Mother (to whom Matt had an intense devotion) intercede for us.


Note: To add your message in this book, go to 
matttalbothopebook@gmail.com or the Facebook link above.

Friday, August 31, 2018

An Intercessory Prayer to Venerable Matt Talbot

While holding a first class Venerable Matt Talbot relic,
Father John Paul, E.W.T.N., offers an intercessory prayer for all affected by addictions, especially to alcohol, drugs, pornography or any other affliction at
https://www.facebook.com/ewtnonline/videos/2155200261471425/

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot Gives Hope for Recovery From Addiction

The author of this article was instrumental in taking the “Matt Talbot Hope Book” to Matt Talbot’s Shrine in Dublin.
 
"From sot to saint: Matt Talbot gives hope for recovery from addiction"
By Gina Christian
Catholic News Service
August 27, 2018
 

A 19th-century Irish laborer and saint-in-the-making could be a new role model for those seeking freedom from addiction, according to a growing apostolate led by a Dublin priest.

 

At an Aug. 23 presentation during the World Meeting of Families, Father Brian Lawless described how Venerable Matt Talbot, once a hard-drinking warehouse hand, was transformed into a sober “urban mystic” through his Catholic faith.


More than 60 attendees listened as Father Lawless surveyed Talbot’s life as an obscure and impoverished worker in Dublin’s slums, which ranked among the worst in Europe at the time.

Talbot’s visibility grew Aug. 25 when Pope Francis made a special point of stopping at Our Lady of Lourdes Church to pray before some relics of Talbot.

Born in 1856, Talbot was the second-eldest of 10 children who survived out of 12. Largely uneducated, he began working at age 12 for a company that bottled Guinness beer. Talbot took to sampling the product, a common practice among the other child laborers. By age 16, he also started drinking whiskey, and he spent the next 12 years as an alcoholic.

“Every penny that he earned was used to buy alcohol,” said Father Lawless.

At age 28, Talbot had “a conversion experience,” something shared by many in addiction recovery who “come to a realization that something has to change,” Father Lawless said.

For Talbot, the breaking point came after a week of unemployment left him penniless and unable to buy a drink. Realizing that “his future looked as bleak as his past,” said Father Lawless, Talbot decided to “take the pledge” and commit to a three-month period of abstinence, a common practice encouraged by temperance movements of the day.

Yet Talbot quickly realized that sobriety was not a matter of having an iron will. Suffering from alcohol withdrawal a few days after abstaining, he went into a church and acknowledged in prayer that only God’s grace could sustain him.

“He emptied himself,” said Father Lawless, adding that addiction is an effort to fill “a hole in the soul” that can only be completed by God.

Talbot embraced the Catholic faith in which he had been raised, attending daily Mass and eventually finding a spiritual director. Barely literate, he learned to read and write so that he could explore the Scriptures, the lives of the saints and spiritual writings.

Having been introduced to Irish monasticism, Talbot adopted an austere lifestyle, remaining single while caring for his elderly mother and supporting numerous charities with any funds left over from his meager income. He spent hours in prayer and reflection, often seemingly in ecstasy.

Having read the works of St. Louis de Montfort, Talbot developed an intense devotion to Mary, even wearing chains around his wrist, hand and right knee.

In his talk, Father Lawless clarified that the fetters were not “a sign of penance, but of Talbot’s consecration to Our Lady,” and were in keeping with St. Louis’ recommendation to wear “little chains” as a sign of surrender to Mary.

Actual chains worn by Talbot, along with several relics, were displayed at an exhibit staffed by volunteers from his apostolate during the pastoral congress of the World Meeting of Families.

Although he spent his life in gritty, working-class conditions, Talbot cultivated a spirituality often associated with hermits or other contemplatives.

“He was able to have those same kind of experiences in his little flat,” said Father Lawless.

A secular Franciscan, Talbot died in 1925 while on the way to Mass, closing his eyes just as the church bells rang.

His cause for canonization began almost immediately. Pope Paul VI declared Talbot venerable in 1975, and Pope John Paul II expressed support for Talbot’s canonization, although he was unable to stop at the would-be saint’s shrine in Our Lady of Lourdes Church during a 1979 visit to Ireland.

Any miracles in support of Talbot’s canonization would have to be “medical in nature,” said Father Lawless, since recovery from addiction often involves relapses that would disqualify such healings from consideration.

Nevertheless, Talbot remains a powerful intercessor for those longing for liberation from alcohol and drugs.

Michael Murphy, an addictions counselor from Drogheda, Ireland, and an advocate for Talbot’s canonization, followed Father Lawless’ presentation with a talk on how the humble laborer had profoundly shaped Murphy’s own journey to sobriety.

A successful executive for a multinational company, Murphy entered an alcohol treatment program in 1996 after a three-day blackout. Married and with children, he had at one point contemplated suicide after a long battle with the bottle.

“I even had a loaded gun ready,” he said.

Before Murphy entered rehab, his wife Noeleen had given him a copy of St. Faustina’s diary with a Matt Talbot prayer card tucked inside. After buried memories of his father’s sudden death surfaced during treatment, he angrily threw his travel bag across the room, causing the prayer card to fall before him.

“I looked at it, and I said to Matt Talbot, ‘If you’re as good as you’re supposed to be, keep me here in this program,'” Murphy said.

Murphy stayed, and after completing treatment he began rebuilding his life, looking to Talbot as a model of “hope, light and forgiveness.”

“He taught me to pray, how to go to eucharistic adoration,” Murphy said.

Both Father Lawless and Murphy noted that Talbot’s spiritual approach to sobriety prefigured the 12-step approach to recovery later formulated by Alcoholics Anonymous.

“He was preaching the 12 steps 50 years before AA,” said Murphy.

Like her husband, Noeleen Murphy is fervent in her devotion to Matt Talbot, even writing and recording “In Your Presence, Lord,” a hymn in Talbot’s honor.

“Anybody who asks will receive from Matt Talbot,” she said. “He walked the walk; he was in addiction himself. He knows the pain and suffering. And he lived in Christ’s presence.”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Dublin Interview About Pope Francis’ Visit and Venerable Matt Talbot


DUBLIN INTERVIEW: From Alcoholic to Future Canonized Saint
25.08.2018 ZENIT
 

Dublin’s Sean McDermott Street is the address where one finds the Parish of our Lady of Lourdes. It is not a popular district for tourists, so here there are no bars recommended by guidebooks where one goes to drink a Guinness, or a precious local whiskey. But for those who have the habit of raising their elbow a little too much, perhaps it would be a good idea to come here.

Even the Venerable Matt Talbot, buried here, was an alcoholic. Now there is a process of beatification going on for him, and soon, who knows? He very well may be proclaimed “saint.” 

Nevertheless he may already be considered a patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He was born in Dublin in 1856, second of twelve children. Alcoholism then was a scourge in Ireland among poor families like the Talbot's. And working as early as 12 years before bottling beer, then downloading whiskey in the port, certainly did not help him. At 27, impoverished and brutalized by vice, he vowed not to drink for three months. Since then he no longer touched on alcohol for the rest of his life, dedicated to prayer, to charity, in the third Franciscan order, and to social commitment as the founder of the Christian Workers’ Movement.
 
In 1972 his remains were removed from a tomb in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Sean McDermott Street, Dublin, in the area where Matt spent his life. In 3 October 1975 Pope Paul VI declared him “venerable”, with a decree on his “heroic virtues”. Now the news is that Pope Francis, arriving in Dublin on Saturday 25 August, will stop here to venerate at least the chain found under the clothes of Talbot when he suddenly died of a heart attack, at 69, on his way to Mass on Trinity Sunday, 7 June 1925. The chain was a sign of devotion and penance.

While the Pope’s pause was to be brief and only outside the Church, organizers warned, the Pope decided to quickly enter and pray before the relics anyway. Pope John Paul II was supposed to stop over during his 1979 visit, but he ran out of time. Here is our conversation with Salesian Parish Priest, Father Michael Casey:
***
How well known is the place where we find ourselves now, the Shrine of Matt Talbot?

It is really well-known in the [United] States, England, and in some parts of Australia. Saint John Paul II had great devotion to the venerable Matt Talbot, and he wrote a little booklet on the life of Matt Talbot and he had great hopes that he would be able to canonize him.

Also Pope Paul VI, when he was a cardinal, he came to Dublin and he visited the grave of Matt Talbot. He was actually the Pope who made him venerable.

At that time, alcohol was the drug of “choice” of Matt. And that has been part of our history. Some have taken to alcohol to deal with life’s challenges and deal with life’s pain. It still is a challenge for us, our Irish society, but unfortunately there is not only alcohol; there are many other drugs on the market at the choice of many people.

So addiction is certainly a symptom of a deeper yearning and hunger, not only for spirits. And that is why the life of Matt Talbot gives us a lot of encouragement and hope tor people. His life teaches us that when we have a hunger and a thirst, we need to understand what we are really searching for, what can satisfy it.  And that is not alcohol or drugs. And Matt’s thirst was for the Living God.

Is faith enough to overcome addictions like alcoholism?

I think in fairness to Irish society and the government, I think they are trying to implement different laws to curb excesses of alcohol and help to have a different attitude towards it. We often say that we don’t see people drunk or overly intoxicated in other European countries, whereas here in Ireland we tend to binge drink, that has destructive effects on families and relationships.

So it is a problem, an issue that we are very aware that in Irish society. But it is a challenge, an open battle, an education, targeting young people, to help them to make more positive choices.

What do you do to promote the knowledge and the devotion to the Venerable Matt Talbot? Are there any special activities?

Our team here, we are the custodian of this church where his relics are. We are here mainly here  mainly to welcome people, pilgrimages, give talks, promote through the web site, and so on.
One of the priest, Father Brian Lawless, is the Vice-Postulator. He, at a national level and the international level, is trying to promote the cause in different ways.

What is the significance of Pope Francis’ visiting here?

A visit here wasn’t part of the original plan, but I think the Archbishop of Dublin Martin, and Pope Francis himself feel very much at home in this community, for it is one that has had its struggles, its own challenges, and has people of great faith. So I think they feel very much at home here. I think it has been a very symbolic gesture of him putting his feet on this sacred soil that is our home. It is something very special for us. We feel blessed by his presence and encouraged.

According to the program, the Pope was supposed to remain outside the Church, but given that Francis usually does not follow programs, were you happy that he came in to pray before the relics?

We know, Pope Francis often surprises people. It was wonderful he decided to enter! Aware his time was very very tight, we were planning to bring the relics of Matt Talbot to him, to show him. They are very special relics: one is the chain that Matt Talbot used as part of a devotion to Mary. It became important because when he died and when he went to the hospital, the nurses saw the chain and they wondered who this man was. The other was the lovely cross which Matt used in his room. His room for him was a kind of monastic cell. Therefore, we were glad Pope Francis saw these, and that he found the wings to come and pray here!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pope Francis Venerates Venerable Matt Talbot's Crucifix Today


On the way to the Pro-cathedral in Dublin, Pope Francis  stopped and venerated relics of the Venerable Matt Talbot in front of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Sean McDermott Street 1 in Dublin today.

A four minute video is available at
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Pope Francis Venerating Crucifix that belonged to Venerable Matt Talbot. (25th August 2018)


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot Exhibit at the World Meeting of Families 2018

These photographs and texts were provided by Michael Murphy.  He and his wife, Noeleen are very active in promoting Venerable Matt Talbot in Ireland.
 

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An exhibition stand (No. 136) was made in the exhibition hall showing the life of the Venerable Matt Talbot.
A reliquary with relics of Venerable Matt Talbot was exhibited.
Also things belonging to Venerable Matt were presented on the stand."


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 "Looking forward to a great Day at the Matt Talbot stand 136 — with Noeleen Murphy at World Meeting of Families Meeting, Dublin."


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"Gina Christian (right) from Catholic Philly.com, Philadelphia, visiting our stand with the "Matt Talbot Hope Book" which is to be presented at the Shrine of Matt Talbot; it consists of names of people struggling with addiction throughout the US and Europe."


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pope Francis Will Venerate a Matt Talbot Relic During Visit to Dublin

In a briefing to journalists ahead of the papal trip to Dublin Aug. 25-26, spokesman Greg Burke, who is the director of the Holy See Press Office, stated: “Along the road to St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, the Pope will stop to venerate a relic of Venerable Matt Talbot, a simple Irish laborer who died in Dublin in 1925.” 

Details at http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-likely-to-meet-with-abuse-victims-in-dublin

This stop will greatly enhance world-wide awareness of Venerable Matt Talbot.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Presentation About Matt Talbot at the 2018 World Meeting of Families


On the evening of 23 August 2018 at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Fr. Brian Lawless, Vice-Postulator for the Cause for Canonization of Venerable Matt Talbot, will give the third evening presentation noted below (https://www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/Programme/Congress/Thursday-Programme/Evening-Panel-5):

"The Journey from Addiction: What Families can Learn from the Life of Venerable Matt Talbot"

Presenter: Fr. Brian Lawless

Pope Francis recognizes the difficulties encountered by families with members suffering from drug addiction. The Holy Father calls it “one of the scourges of our time, causing immense suffering and even breakup for many families. The same is true of alcoholism, gambling and other addictions.

This presentation discusses the challenges facing families that have been confronted by drug addiction and turns to the life of the Venerable Matt Talbot to see if there is anything that they can learn from his journey.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Pope Francis to visit the Dublin street where John Paul failed to stop"






Pope Francis is to visit Seán McDermott Street in Dublin’s city centre briefly on Saturday, August 25th, 2018.

During his 1979 visit to Ireland, Pope John Paul II had planned to stop on the street to visit Matt Talbot’s tomb in Our Lady of Lourdes church. However, the Popemobile was running behind schedule and drove on, much to the disappointment of many local people. Some said afterwards joyriders did not go down Seán McDermott Street as fast.
  Crowds outside Our Lady of Lourdes, Seán McDermott Street in 1979 waiting for Pope John Paul II. Photograph: Dublin City Council photographic collection 
Crowds outside Our Lady of Lourdes, Seán McDermott Street in 1979 waiting for Pope John Paul II. 
 
“The story still persists, of course, of how people were waiting for Pope John Paul to stop,” said Fr Hugh O’Donnell at the church on Sunday. “The significance of a stop, no matter how brief, is very important. In some ways it’s a corrective, almost. The expectation was there in ’79, that he would stop,” he said.
 
Fr O’Donnell said Pope Francis’s visit, which would follow his meeting at Dublin Castle with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other members of the Government, was not an official stop. “He won’t be saying anything. He won’t even come into the church. So, I would say it’s more a symbolic gesture, a very reassuring gesture for the people of the area.

“Also we have the tomb of Matt Talbot here who is a real symbol of, an exemplar of, someone who dealt with addiction in a particular way. He’s well known all over the world, even more so I think than locally.”