Saturday, February 24, 2018

Pope Paul VI and Venerable Matt Talbot


On 6 November 1931, Archbishop Byrne of Dublin opened a sworn inquiry into the alleged claims of holiness of the former dock worker named Matt Talbot.

The Apostolic Process, the official sworn inquiry at the Vatican, began in 1947.

On 3 October 1975 Pope Paul VI declared him to be Venerable Matt Talbot, which is a step on the road to his canonisation, a process which needs evidence of a physical miracle in order to be successful.  

While Matt remains “Venerable,” Pope Francis  stated  earlier this month that he will proclaim Blessed Paul VI a saint later this year. Details are available at http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/pope-francis-paul-vi-to-be-canonized-this-year

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Learning to Pray


Last week a young man who was beginning to address
the possibility of being an alcoholic asked, "How does one pray?" He stated that praying and religious faith were not part of his upbringing.  Had this article been read and printed, it might have been helpful.

Lesson One in Praying
by Dr. Peter Kreeft
January 31, 2018
Let’s get very, very basic and very, very practical about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know  about prayer is also the simplest: Just do it! How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer.

Nancy Reagan was criticized for her simple anti-drug slogan: “Just say no.” But there was wisdom there: the wisdom that the heart of any successful program to stop anything must be the simple will to say no. (“Just say no” doesn’t mean that nothing else was needed, but that without that simple decision nothing else would work. “Just say no” may not be sufficient but it is necessary.)

Similarly, no program, method, book, teacher, or technique will ever succeed in getting us to start doing anything unless there is first of all that simple, absolute choice to do it. “Just say yes.”

The major obstacle in most of our lives to just saying yes to prayer, the most popular and powerful excuse we give for not praying, or not praying more, or not praying regularly, is that we have no time.

The only effective answer to that excuse, I find, is a kind of murder. You have to kill something, you have to say no to something else, in order to make time to pray. Of course, you will never find time to pray, you have to make time to pray. And that means unmaking something else. The only way to install the tenant of prayer in the apartment building of your life is to evict some other tenant from those premises that prayer will occupy. Few of us have any empty rooms available.

Deciding to do that is the first thing. And you probably won’t decide to do it, only wish to do it, unless you see prayer for what it is: a matter of life or death, your lifeline to God, to life itself.

Is this exaggerated? Are there more important things? Love, for instance? We need love absolutely; but the love we need is agape, the love that only God has and is; so unless we go to God for it, we won’t get it. And going to God for it means prayer. So unless we pray, we will not love.

Having got that clear and having made prayer your number one priority, having made a definite decision to do it, we must next rearrange our lives around it. Rearranging your time, preparing time to pray, is like preparing your house to paint. As everyone knows who has done any painting, preparation is three-quarters the work, three-quarters the hassle, and three-quarters the time. The actual painting is a breeze compared with the preparation. 

The same is true of prayer: the hardest step is preparing a place, a time, a sacred and inviolable part of each day for it. Prayer is like Thanksgiving dinner. It takes one hour to eat it and ten hours to prepare it. Prayer is like Christmas Day: it took a month of preparation, decoration, and shopping to arrange for that one day. Best of all, prayer is like love. Foreplay is, or should be, most of it. For two people truly and totally in love, all of their lives together is foreplay. Well, prayer is like spiritual love-making. God has waited patiently for you for a long, long time. He longs for you to touch the fringe of his being in prayer, as the woman touched the hem of Christ’s garment, so that you can be healed. How many hours did that woman have to prepare for that one-minute touch?

The first and most important piece of practical preparation is scheduling. You absolutely must schedule a regular time for prayer, whether you are a “scheduler” with other things in your life or not. “Catch as catch can” simply won’t work for prayer; it will mean less and less prayer, or none at all. One quick minute in the morning to offer your day to God is better than nothing at all, of course, but it is as radically inadequate as one quick minute a day with your wife or husband. You simply must decide each day to free up your schedule so you can pray.

How long a time? That varies with individuals and situations, of course; but the very barest minimum should certainly be at least fifteen minutes. You can’t really count on getting much deep stuff going on in less time than that. If fifteen minutes seems too much to you, that fact is powerful proof that you need to pray much more to get your head on straight.
After it becomes more habitual and easy, expand it, double it. And later, double it again. Aim at an hour each day, if you want radical results. (Do you? Or are you only playing?)

What time of day is best? The most popular time—bedtime—is usually the worst possible time, for two reasons. First, it tends not to be prime time but garbage time, when you’re the least alert and awake. Do you really want to put God in the worst apartment in your building? Should you offer him the sickest sheep in your flock?

Second, it won’t work. If you wait until every other obligation is taken care of first before you pray, you simply won’t pray. For life today is so cruelly complicated for most of us that “every other obligation” is never taken care of. Remember, you are going to have to kill other things in order to pray. No way out of that.

The most obvious and usually best time is early in the morning. If you can’t delay the other things you do, you simply must get up that much earlier.

Should it be the very first thing? That depends. Some people are alert as soon as they get up; others need to shower and dress to wake up. The important thing is to give God the best time, and “just do it.”

Place is almost as important as time. You should make one special place where you can be undisturbed. “Catch as catch can” won’t work for place either.

What place? Some people are not very sensitive to environment and can even use a bathroom. Others naturally seek beauty: a porch, yard, garden, or walk. (I find praying while you take a walk a good combination of spiritual and physical exercise.)

You probably noticed I haven’t said a word about techniques yet. That’s because three-quarters is preparation, remember? But what about methods?

I can only speak from my own experience as a continuing beginner. The two most effective that I have found are very simple. One is praying Scripture, reading and praying at the same time, reading in God’s presence, receiving the words from God’s mouth. The second is spontaneous verbal prayer. I am not good at all at silent prayer, mental prayer, contemplative prayer; my thoughts hop around like fleas. Praying aloud (or singing) keeps me praying, at least. And I find it often naturally leads to silent prayer often, or “mental prayer,” or contemplation.

Most advice on prayer focuses on higher levels: contemplative prayer. But I suspect many of my readers are prayer infants too and need to learn to walk before they can run. So these are some lessons from one man’s prayer kindergarten. Let’s “just do it” even if “it” is only crawling towards God. 

Note: Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and popular author of over 55 books.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Lenten Journey with Venerable Matt Talbot

 
In addition to your planned Lenten reading, it may be worthwhile to add Matt Talbot - A Lenten Journey (2014), a resource compiled and edited by Fr. Brian Lawless, Vice Postulator for the cause of the Venerable Matt Talbot, and Caroline Eaton.        
This free 69 page resource at http://www.acnireland.org/images/books/matt_talbot_a_lenten_journey.pdf is recommended for those who are not yet familiar with Venerable Matt Talbot as well as a review for those who are familiar with him.
 
Note: We previously posted this resource on 1 Mar 2017.
 
 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Confiding in God and Overcoming Addiction

"Hope with Realism: Confiding in God and Overcoming Addiction"
Dr. Dan L. Edmunds
December 28, 2017


Ds--distance, duality, disillusionment, denial, and despair. Distance was to put up an unnecessary wall with others. Duality was that double life where one wore masks and played the games. 
Disillusionment was to not find satisfaction and to be afraid of one’s feelings and emotions where the only thought was to be numb. Denial was to ignore a dilemma and to pretend it was not there. Despair was to have no hope. But though it began this way it need not be the end. To restore a connection, to come to patient acceptance, to pay mind to those small joys often overlooked, to take off the mask, to be authentic and without fear. Therein lies the solution and the hope. The Lord gave these words to St. Faustina:
“O soul steeped in darkness, do not despair. All is not yet lost. Come and confide in your God, who is love and mercy.”
 A Crisis of Meaning and Identity

When one begins to help others create meaning they will begin to create it themselves. There cannot be something without there first being anything. And from that void one does have a choice of what to fill it with. Will it be the junk food that alleviates a hunger but never satisfies or will it be something based on virtue which cannot be taken away and which provides nourishment? As for where they will go, that too becomes a choice and the path will be less tedious and more fulfilling when the journey takes place with others rather than in isolation. When one walks alone, it is likely they will become lost and there will be none to lift them up again or nurse wounds along the way.

Understanding Addiction   

 

If one wishes to understand addiction they must be willing to understand painful experiences. They must be willing to venture into that darkness and realize that some are too afraid to walk to the light. Some judge and fail to grasp how one may return to the same cycle. But it is the human condition for us to return to that which was familiar though it is uncomfortable. We must come to know those forces which led to a disintegration of identity, a failure to grasp the meaning, an isolation though among others. We must come to see that these persons are human beings regardless of how contorted their lives have become. They cannot be expected to give what they never had. Compassion and patience is a key. And once the door is opened we cannot expect them to immediately rush into it. They need those who will guide them to that opening and will encourage rather than further their feelings of hopelessness and despair. A confrontational approach will only give rise to retaliation, denial, and defensiveness. An approach of service and core human values based on benevolence will give rise to the restoration of their full humanity free from the contortions. Authenticity will give rise to honest interactions. Supportive guidance rather than judgmental dictates will give rise to functional independence and better decision making. Showing an example of humility and kindness will give rise to one adopting the same. There is the need for that process of unlearning, of casting off that which one perpetuated for it is all they knew. There is that need to be willing to suffer with, be with, and journey with the other, to demonstrate that there is no need any longer for masks, roles, and ultimately fear. To show that life can be beautiful and embraced rather than avoided.


Addiction and Mental Health

There is often an unnecessary dichotomy made between addiction and mental health. The two are intertwined in that it is often challenging states of mind which paves the way to addiction and once addiction arises there is then a greater deterioration of one’s mental state where for some the end result is complete despair. It is necessary not only to support the person who is in difficult emotional states whether addiction arose or not but to also take on the role of activists to seek to change what we are able in the dynamics which lead one to such states. And some may ask- why do some go through a painful or difficult experience and addiction arises whereas with others it does not? The fact is that all will react to oppressive dynamics, some will become depressed, some anxious, some even psychotic. Some will develop an addiction. Each is based on what is available (or not available) at the time. Each is an ill-fated attempt to alleviate that which they find to be an unbearable condition.
“God has to work in the soul in secret and in darkness because if we fully knew what was happening, and what Mystery, transformation, God, and Grace will eventually ask of us, we would either try to take charge or stop the whole process.”

A Longing For Connection

 

Addiction becomes that strange event by which one longs for connection but becomes disconnected and isolated, seeks meaning but enters despair, yearns to be free from anxiety but becomes a prisoner of their own thoughts, hopes to avoid pain but becomes engulfed in the unavoidable, seeks to be recognized for something positive but becomes unrecognizable, goes after pleasure and excitement but becomes apathetic and anhedonic. Addiction remains that compulsion only when the dynamics around the person remain compulsively chaotic and bewildering. The obsessive quality of addiction remains an obsession when one believes there is no way out and has no other focus. And though addiction was present, though the darkness has become pervasive, one may find through that hope combined with realism that inward path where the light is rekindled and one emerges anew with an insight, a connection, meaning, and a willingness to embrace life as it is.

Spiritual Doubt

 

There was that time of spiritual doubt. One did those things which killed the Spirit within. One replaces the Spirit with spirits. One does not want to see, recognize, or be bothered by God for a time for they had projected all their human resentments and negative feelings onto their image of who this God was. One could not be in control if God was. And though things were so out of control one played the game that they did have such control. When one admitted that this was not the case and began to see the face and workings of the Divine in their fellows, they began to discover amazing things and we discarded spirits for the spiritual.
It is not that some struggling with addiction do not want help. They do not desire to live in despair and turmoil. It is rather they have crossed the line into dependence and familiarity. It is that they are not ready for they do not know how to receive help nor do they trust anyone to help. Fear keeps them trapped in the cycle. A different way of life is foreign and anxiety producing. Some would say we must give up on these souls but it is when the door becomes cracked even just a tad that light may enter. The door can only begin to be cracked open when the person encounters in another the very traits they were lacking- patience, compassion, authenticity.

 

 The Spiritual

 

There are those extreme idealists whose hearts may be benevolent but whose thinking leads them to disillusionment, discontent, bitterness, and cynicism. They desperately want to see their vision unfold. But it is that attachment to this desire that leads to their confusion. Patient acceptance and a hope tempered by realism are what is needed.There was that time of spiritual doubt. One did those things which killed the Spirit within. One replaces the Spirit with spirits. One does not want to see, recognize, or be bothered by God for a time for they had projected all their human resentments and negative feelings onto their image of who this God was. One could not be in control if God was. And though things were so out of control one played the game that they did have such control. When one admitted that this was not the case and began to see the face and workings of the Divine in their fellows, they began to discover amazing things and they discarded spirits for the spiritual.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Notes Matt Talbot

 "Sean McDermott Street celebrates 25 years of Salesian involvement”
By Cian Molloy – 29 January, 2018
So many families in this parish can thank God that even in hard times, and in the face of many negative forces, they have seen their children grow up to become good citizens, good Christians and good parents, people of whom this parish can be proud.

The Parish of Seán McDermott Street in Dublin’s city centre, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Salesian Order’s involvement in the parish administration.

In addition to running Our Lady of Lourdes Church, which is home to the Shrine of the Venerable Matt Talbot, the Salesians also run the Crinian Youth Project, as a response to the disastrous impact of heroin on many of the parish’s young people.

At a Mass marking the silver anniversary, the Salesian provincial Fr Michael Casey was generous in praising others who are also working to support the people of the parish, including the Daughters of Charity, the Columban Missionary Sisters, the local schools, the local day centre for the elderly, the parish’s pastoral council and those working in the local health services.

But in his homily yesterday (Sunday), chief celebrant Archbishop Diarmuid Martin remarked that there are three others ‘constantly present, invisibly animating the spiritual and the human development of this community’.  The three are: Don Bosco, founder of the Salesians; Matt Talbot and Our Lady of Lourdes.

“Don Bosco was a great saint of the people,” said the Archbishop. “He worked within communities and especially with young people. Anywhere in the world where you find a Salesian community you find a presence among young people that is practical, caring, and forward-looking. I have visited Salesian schools in the poorest parts of the world and the Salesian presence is always one that provides practical help for young people, no matter what their belief. The Spirit of Don Bosco is one that sets out to enable every young person to reach his or her full God-given potential as individuals and to build up a community that surrounds and helps young people.

“So many families here in this parish can thank God that even in hard times, and in the face of many negative forces, they have seen their children grow up to become good citizens and good Christians and good parents, people of whom this parish can be proud.”

Describing Matt Talbot as ‘a true Dubliner, who faced the challenges of Dublin in difficult times’, the Archbishop said, “He was a worker, a very simple man who was able in the midst of poverty and disadvantage to be truly a man of God, a mystic, and a man of prayer. He lived a saintly life not by running way from his place of hard work and his difficult social environment. He stayed here and found holiness here. Over the years, he has touched hearts and he has answered the hidden prayers of many a parent or of individuals in heart breaking situations of addiction. His presence here is truly a blessing.

“The third figure is Our Lady of Lourdes, patron of this parish. Mary is the model of a strong woman who sought out God’s will and stood by her Son Jesus when his unfailing love was responded to with rejection and when his goodness was responded to with shameful violence. Mary is the one who reminds us of how the presence of goodness will eventually overcome the arrogance of the violent.”

“The future of this parish and its people will be shaped not by the drug barons but by the goodness and the determination of good honest and courageous citizens, young and old, women and men, who care not for their own wealth and power, but for the safe and happy future of our younger generations.
“May the Lord bless this parish and especially its young people.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Songs from the Musical "Matt Talbot"


Video for https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yissk0U0P-Y

Songs from the musical "Matt Talbot" were created by Pat & Kathleen Phelan in 1986 and posted on November 12, 2017 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yissk0U0P-Y.