Thursday, December 25, 2008

Remembering Matt Talbot on Christmas Day

During the 1880's in Dublin, the typical good layman went to Mass just on Sunday and received Holy Communion only at Christmas and Easter. But for Matt Talbot to find the strength to remain sober, he attended Mass each morning before work and received Holy Communion. In preparation for Christmas, Matt fasted during Advent. These are just two of multiple lifestyle changes Matt made in recovery.

We wish all a Blessed Christmas.
Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

St. Maximilian Kolbe and Venerable Matt Talbot: Direct Experience Counts

People select one or more patron saints for a variety of reasons. This writer selected Matt Talbot because, for her, "direct experience counts." St. Maximilian is frequently mentioned as the patron saint of addicts, not because he was an addict but probably because when he did not die quickly enough from starvation, he was given a lethal injection of carbolic acid in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during World War II. (JB)

by The Prodigal Catholic
December 20, 2008

"...I'm really looking forward to praying the Venerable Matt Talbot Chaplet. I know St. Maximilian Kolbe is considered the Patron Saint of Addicts, but as far as I know he never dealt with addiction. The Venerable Matt Talbot did. And for this recovering Catholic, that makes all the difference for someone like myself who has struggled with addiction. For me if it changes the way I feel, it's a drug. And that includes alcohol. I sincerely hope that the Venerable Matt Talbot will not only be canonized as the Patron Saint of alcoholics, but also of addicts. He is truly an inspiration to me as someone who used his Catholic Faith as a mighty tool in his recovery from his addiction to alcohol."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Matt Talbot Merchandise

While we do not endorse specific companies that sell Matt Talbot merchandise, we do occasionally note what is available for sale.

Until recently the only merchandise featuring Matt were different images of him on "saint" and prayer cards and medals. Now we have chaplets such as this one:

The latest is a T-shirt:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Saints and Me

Terry Nelson
Nov 15th, 2008

Conversation in heaven.

In ancient hagiography one often reads that this or that particular saint, because of his deep recollection and prayer, lived more in heaven than on earth. Of course such behavior would indicate great holiness and union with God. When I was little, not a few people told my parents that I was using religion as an escape - a remarkable thing to say about a little kid, don’t you think?

Priests say the darndest things.

Surprisingly, the most notable person to say it happened to be a priest; in his opinion, because I wasn’t good at sports, I took refuge in pious devotions. He told my parents I should be playing baseball rather than making visits to the Blessed Sacrament. (In my day, a boy who came from a mixed marriage - my dad was Lutheran - and whose parent(s) had been divorced, was considered ineligible for priesthood. These things were impediments and required a dispensation - hence the priest probably thought I was wasting my time praying.)

Imitating those who imitated Christ.

In some respects, I suppose the priest was correct, I expect I had found an escape from a very difficult home life, although, I learned from a very early age that heaven is my true home, and my family there is my support. Therefore, from the age of 5 or 6, I developed an attachment to the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and Jesus in the Eucharist. I read about the saints - often reading stories of my favorites over and over, I tried to imitate their virtue and prayer, but I failed miserably. Perhaps the one thing I might have done as well as the saints, is to frequent the sacrament of penance - but that is about it.

Nevertheless, they became my companions and very best friends. They were my confidantes and teachers. In fact, I attribute my success in certain studies such as history, geography, and language to my knowing the saints, who took me (my imagination) all over the world.

What becomes of the broken hearted?

Growing up, I maintained my relationship with the saints, who never abandoned me even though I abandoned the faith for a short time as a young adult. Today, they remain a part of my life in a much deeper way, and I see how their prayers have helped me, even delivered me from so much evil, while being such a consolation in this long loneliness of life.

This morning at prayer I suddenly thought of Matt Talbot, and I began to reflect upon his life. It seemed as if he purposely came along this morning to remind me of something he once said, “How can a man be lonely when he has Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?”

You see Matt renounced a life of dissipation and alcoholism, and after his conversion, he lived as a penitent the rest of his life. That meant he left behind his bar friends, who had no time for him anyway since he wasn’t drinking. He embraced a life of celibacy, convinced Our Lady desired this for him. His loneliness was filled with prayer and devotion to the saints, Our Lady, and Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Matt balanced his life of prayer with labor and good works.

How can a young man remain sinless?

Matt reminded me how lonely it can be for younger people who happen to be in difficult situations in life. I remember when I was in my early 20’s, I was scared a part of my body would wither and fall off if I embraced a life of chastity - I’m serious. I remember one night coming home from the bars - alone - crying out to God: “Please, please, let me find someone - I just want to have someone to love me and share my life with.” Loneliness is a killer. (Yet God hears every prayer.)

The practice of the presence of God.

After many fallings and risings, I rediscovered Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, as well as my friendship with the saints; and early on, Matt was one of many who taught me how to live alone with the Great Alone - God, in His angels and in His saints. If we learn to practice the presence of God we realize we are never alone, and that only God can fill our loneliness. And in so doing, He heals the wounds that aggravate the pain.

Note: Additional postings by Terry about Matt Talbot can be found at

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Twelve Step Prayer Book

Whether or not one is familiar with the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or even alcoholism, the prayers and readings compiled in this prayer book may be of interest. To view some of its content, click the link below.

The Twelve Step Prayer Book: A Collection of Favorite Twelve Step Prayers and Inspirational Readings
By Bill P., Lisa D.
Published by Hazelden, 2004
ISBN 1592850952, 9781592850952
150 pages

A second edition (with 44 new prayers) of the best-selling book of prayers and inspirations for those seeking just the right words for conversing with their Higher Power or for expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings.Words of wisdom and inspiration, gleaned from Twelve Step meetings and adapted from common prayers and devotional readings, fill the second edition of this popular prayer book. Featuring 44 new prayers, the updated and enhanced second edition offers a total of 183 inspirational passages to assist members of all Twelve Step fellowships in their prayer life and spiritual progress. Anyone who has had difficulty finding "the right words" to speak with his or her Higher Power will find abundant resources in this stirring collection.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Matt Talbot and "The Irish Way"

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, book chapters on Matt Talbot was published seven years after his death by Frank (F. J.) Sheed in his book, The Irish Way, published by Sheed & Ward publishing house in London in 1932.
In this collection of eighteen portraits of Irish saints and other exemplary Catholics from the Irish past who devoted their lives to faith and religion, Sheed describes Matt Talbot as the authentic Irish Catholic layman, and the first "Irish layman who had even been thought of for canonization."
The actual details of Matt's life that Sheed used for this portrait are from the bibliography of Matt by Sir Joseph Glynn, which can be found at

The full text of The Irish Way can be found at :
The 16 page chapter on Matt Talbot is located at the end of the book, pp 327-343.

One article about Frank Sheed can be found at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Venerable Matt Talbot Devotional

Today, we pray with one voice, asking that each of those suffering from the spiritual death of addiction will be liberated from the bonds of compulsion and craving; that the hold of these harmful behaviors will be released forever.

We call to you, Lord Jesus, and to the Power upon whom you called, that like the Prodigal Son, these brothers and sisters, held in the grip of death by addiction, will be able to return to a life free from harmful dependence.

Matt Talbot was led out of the despair of dependence, by living and working in prayerful devotion. He was dedicated to helping others. Through abstinence, prayer, the Sacraments, and reading of the Word, he was saved. Today, we ask that each of the addicted be led out of the shadows and into the light of hope.

With the example of this humble servant, and all the Saints who have struggled and prevailed, we ask that our plea for sobriety be heard, and that the energy needed for recovery will be available to all who seek Your help.

Show us the way out of addiction. Lead us to a new life of Faith.
Teach us, through the example of Matt Talbot, to discipline of living addiction free lives.

Send each of those who suffer from addiction behavior the strength and courage needed to overcome dependence. Inspire us to seek abstinence and sobriety in our day to day lives, to live as Matt Talbot lived, by the light of Your Holy Spirit, and the guidance of Your redeeming grace, as we seek the miracle of recovery. We ask this in the name of God, the Most High, Amen.

Say this prayer daily and spend time in meditation each week seeking the intervention and intercession of Venerable Matt Talbot.

Note: This prayer was sent by Kevin O'Hara who helped develop a parish ministry for those addicted and affected by addiction, called "Friends of Matt Talbot."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pondering Our Own Death

Whereas the readings for All Souls Day and homilies focus on the passing of others, they may also lead us to reflect on our own death, which we may do so ranging from hope and confidence in God's mercy to anxiety and fear.

The following are excerpts from the reflection for All Souls Day, pages 292-293, from A 12-Step Approach to the Sunday Readings (2002) by Fr. Jim Harbaugh S.J. Perhaps
these words can offer some comfort for those who work the twelve steps but are uncomfortable in thinking about their our death.

"In countries like Mexico, All Souls is the Day of the Dead, a festive occasion...; dead loved ones are still very much part of the family. Here in the United States, death is a lonelier affair. We may resist memories of those we have loved who have died, because they naturally lead us to think about our own deaths. What lies on the other side of death is, of course, an 'outside issue' for 12 Steppers--it's a case of death as we understand death. There is no such thing as 12-Step orthodoxy on this point (or any other, in fact). Still, I think that those of us who have been 'reborn' through practice of the Steps (see Big Book, 63) possess an important clue about what death might mean.

This makes sense to me: a Power that can bring us back from a deathly illness is worthy of trust in the matter of our deaths as well. We can prudently turn our will and our lives---and the end of our lives---over to the care of such a Power.

Or you might want to ponder these words of Bill W.: when we feel 'new power flow[ing] in,' early in recovery and later, and as we improve our 'consciousness of [God's] presence, we beg[i]n to lose our fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter' (Big Book, 63)."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

They Didn't Start Out As Saints!

Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.

Catholic Exchange

November 1, 2008

Feast of All Saints

Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 Jn 3:1-3 / Mt 5:1-12

As we mark this Feast of All Saints, it’s fascinating to remember where some of the better known saints started out and how their lives proceeded. St. Matthew was a tax collector. St. Mary Magdelene practiced the oldest profession in the world. St. Peter was impetuous and something of a blowhard, and he had to be pressed hard before he’d let gentiles become Christians unless they first became Jews! The whole lot of the Apostles ran for the hills when Jesus was taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that was just a short while after their robust promise that they’d follow Him anywhere and die with Him if need be.

The list could go on and on, but the point is a simple one: none of these great saints started out as saints. Quite the contrary was true. They slowly and painstakingly evolved into holy men and women, with many starts and stops and numerous temporary reversals. And very often, as many of them have testified in their diaries, they suffered from deep discouragement at their lack of progress and their frequent mistakes. St. Paul spoke for them and for us all when said in anguish, “The good that I would do, I do not.” Isn’t it the truth.

There’s a lesson in all this for us who are still struggling along our own roads: Growing up into God’s image and likeness takes a long time. It’s a lifetime work, and God understands that. After all, He’s the one who put us together.

So take heart. Rejoice in the little triumphs as they happen. Each one brings you a step closer to home. Each one brings you a step closer to the embrace of our Father.


Note: Venerable Matt Talbot would in all probability be absolutely shocked that we would remember his life today as one proposed for sainthood, but God had other plans.

The last paragraph of this homily reminds us of a recovering friend who is known for saying at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, "Hi, I'm Barb. Thanks to God and this program, I am alive and sober today and one day closer to home."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Saints R Us?

Meditation: Philippians 1:1-11
The Words Among Us
October 31, 2008


At the very beginning of his letter to the Philippians, Paul called his readers “saints,” or “holy ones.” In light of the upcoming celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, it might be good to ask what makes someone a saint.

When we hear the word, most of us think of the special Christians of the past—canonized saints—who are renowned because of their extraordinary holiness and witness, in some cases to the point of martyrdom. However, when Paul used the word “saint,” he meant all Christians—even us today!

In one sense, everyone who is baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection is a saint. This is not to diminish the special role of the canonized saints but to highlight the immense gift that is all of ours in Christ. Because of the power of the cross, each Christian has the same inheritance in heaven as the great saints whose lives we commemorate in a special way.

Based on the characteristics that Paul mentioned in these few verses, we can begin to define what makes a person a “saint.” Saints are “in Christ” (Philippians 1:1). United with Jesus, they are “partners … in grace” (1:7). They have access to the love and power of the Spirit in their everyday lives. Finally, because of their “partnership for the gospel” (1:5), they are all called and empowered to proclaim the gospel and build the kingdom of God. Baptized into Christ and filled with the Spirit, saints stand as a sign to the world of the love and power of God.

Do you believe that these characteristics are just as true of you as they were of the first believers? Like them, you too can be assured that God will bring to completion the “good work” he began in you at baptism (Philippians 1:6). The Holy Spirit will help you each day to take steps to embrace your full inheritance in Christ. Place your faith in Jesus. Believe that he is making you into a saint. Drink deeply of his grace, and take possession of your inheritance. By God’s grace, you can manifest his love to the world. You can shine as one of God’s holy ones.

“Father, thank you for giving me a share in the fellowship of your saints. By your Spirit, empower me to embrace Jesus and his life today.”


(Phil 1:1-11)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guided Meditation: "I Thirst for You"

Matt Talbot experienced two significantly different "thirsts" in his life, the first being a consuming thirst for alcohol and then a gradual consuming thirst for God at the age of 28 when he made his first pledge not pick up that first drink.

Whatever our "thirst" might be, some of us may not know or need to be reminded that God first thirsts for each one of us before we may decide to thirst for God.

To help us focus on God's thirst for us and/or to pass along to others, a guided meditation from a new book may be helpful. Fr. Joseph Langford, co-founder with Mother Teresa of her community of priests, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, based in Tijuana, Mexico, has published Mother Teresa's Secret Fire: The Encounter That Changed Her Life and How it Can Transform Your Own (2008).

In this book published by Our Sunday Visitor a free download of a meditation on "thirst" is available at

or at for the meditation and additional information about this new book.

Friday, October 24, 2008


"Mortification" is a term that periodically appears in reference to Matt Talbot. These two links provide an introduction to its etymology, forms, purposes and practices:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why turn to Jesus when we are suffering?

Matt Talbot turned to Jesus when he had suffered enough from the effects of his alcoholism. As his love of Jesus increased, his love of alcohol decreased.

Why turn to Jesus when we are suffering?
by Steven R. Hemler
October 16, 2008

Most people are naturally self-centered. We want to be self-sufficient and in control of our lives. We don't want anyone telling us what to do. However, in times of difficulty and hardship we may turn to God and seek His help. For many people, God is just some kind of vague emergency service to be called upon when the going gets tough or when we have some kind of need. If everything was always wonderful, do you think we would need God or seek Him? Probably not.

However, our Creator knows that our true happiness lies in our relationship with Him. Only when we surrender our will to God can we find true joy and happiness. Yet, the human spirit will not surrender our self-will as long as we believe all is well. As long as our own life remains agreeable, we will not surrender it to God. Most of us will not give ourselves to God as long as there is any other place for us to look for happiness.

So, we're not just imperfect people who need to be improved, but rebels who need to lay down our arms. What else can God do but allow our lives to become less agreeable and take away possible sources of false happiness?

Our illusion of self-sufficiency and self-control must, for our own sake, be shattered. Pain and suffering shatter the illusion that all is well and that what we have is our own and is enough for us. For our own good, we need to be reminded that we are not the center of the universe and are not really in control of our own lives. God often allows pain and suffering to help us find the proper perspective in life, which is rooted in our abandonment of self-will to God's Will. In other words, God allows short-term suffering for our long-term good.

God is wise enough to see that we need some pain, for reasons we may not fully understand, but which He knows is necessary for our eventual good. God may allow suffering and deprive us of pleasure in order to help us move toward the goal of spiritual maturity and eternal life with Him in heaven. So, physical or mental pain and suffering can be the means by which we become motivated to finally surrender ourselves to God and to seek the cure of Christ.

However, the answer to the problem of suffering cannot just be an abstract idea, because this is not just an abstract issue. It's a personal issue and requires a personal response. The answer to the problem of suffering is not a logical answer, but an Answer. It's Jesus Himself. More important than an apologist is a Savior.

God understands our suffering because he has experienced it. God became human in Jesus Christ. And, Jesus voluntarily took our place when on the cross He took the full punishment that we all deserve. He willingly suffered for our good, so that we might be able to attain eternal salvation in heaven. As the mediator between God and man, Jesus offers forgiveness of sins and a living, eternal relationship with God to all who turn from their self-centered lives and commit themselves to Him as Savior and Lord.

The realization that Jesus truly does love me, as evidenced by His atoning sacrifice on the cross, is the only real answer to the problem of evil and suffering. Jesus demonstrated how the worst thing that ever happened in the history of the world ended up resulting in the best thing that ever happened in the history of the world. And, if it happened there - the ultimate evil resulting in the ultimate good - it can happen anywhere, even in our own lives. By His example, Jesus asks us to love and trust Him in all things, especially in our trials and suffering.

How can we not help but love in return this person, Jesus, who went the extra mile, who practiced more than He preached, who voluntarily entered into our world, who suffered our pains, and who offers Himself to us in the midst of our pain?

Are we broken? He was broken, like bread for us. Are we despised? He was despised and rejected. Do people betray us? He was sold out Himself. Are our relationships damaged? He too loved and was rejected. What more can He do?

Jesus' suffering and death on the cross set an example for us to follow. We must go where Jesus is, and the cross is one of the places where He is. If we want to be with God, we have to be with Him in suffering. Jesus said that we cannot be His follower unless we take up our cross.


For other information posted on "suffering," type this word in our "Search Blog."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making a decision when we stumble

Being human beings we all stumble, as did Matt Talbot. The key is what we decide to do next. Do we just give up or do the "next right thing?"

Mass Reading & Meditation for October 15, 2008

The Word Among Us

Rivalries, anger, jealousy, envy, selfishness—many of these “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19) are things we can point to in our lives or in our families every day. As we see the many ways in which we stumble, should we just give up?

No! We belong to Christ. Our sinful passions were crucified in baptism, and we have been filled with his Spirit (5:24).

The call to holiness is a process, and that means the sinful aspects of our nature don’t disappear overnight. We can be glad that God doesn’t judge us by a snapshot of our worst moments! What about that outburst of anger? What about that envious thought? God sees them all, but he also sees the bigger picture. He never loses sight of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, the life of his Spirit within us, the natural goodness he created in us, or our desires for godliness. He all that, too—and it makes him smile!

So don’t be disheartened when you stumble. Your failures certainly do not prove that God has abandoned you! The truth is, we will never see perfection in ourselves short of heaven. However, with each choice we make to put off the flesh and live by the Spirit, we make a little more progress toward Christ. That’s why God offers us forgiveness each time we fall. That’s why he generously offers us the power of his Spirit to help us get back on the path.

Before you go to bed tonight, take some time to review the day. Don’t just look at the works of the flesh that you gave in to today. Look also at the fruit of the Spirit that you demonstrated. Be encouraged at your victories, and ask the Spirit to strengthen you in those areas where you are weak. Whether it’s an issue of self-control or patience or fortitude, look to Jesus and to his mighty power. Remember that the blood of his cross has brought you peace (Colossians 1:20)! Claim that peace in his name, and get a good night’s rest—for he will never abandon you!

“Lord, I rejoice in your life in me and in the working of your Holy Spirit to conform me to your image. May my heart be always open to his call.”

Psalm 1:1-4,6; Luke 11:42-46


Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Steps of the Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety

Based on the book, To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety (2000) by Philip Maynard, Ted S. founded a public online group at SocialCircle.Com, named the "Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety," which now appears inactive. The following are Tim's posts as to the steps that Matt Talbot used in his recovery from alcoholism.

"The Steps of the Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety"
Tim S.

The seven steps are:

1. Daily Offering to give up drinking for love of Jesus Christ.

2. Christ-centered prayer to keep focused on Christ. Saying the Jesus Prayer multiple times throughout the day is one way to do this.

3. Dedication Prayer that dedicates your actions of the day to grow in love of Christ and imitation of Him.

4. Spiritual Reading which includes but not limited to the Bible.

5. Short Prayers during the day. Can be spontaneous prayers or formula prayers...again this keeps us focused on Christ.

6. Evening Prayer. Prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and contrition.

7. Christian Living. It is the height of hypocrisy to talk the talk but not walk the talk.

The following replies are the steps in detail and most of the material comes directly from the book, "To Slake a Thirst" by Philip Maynard. What I have lined out here is but a very brief summary of the Steps and the material contained in the book.

Step 1. The Daily Offering

Heavenly Father, being mindful of the heroic example of your servant Matt Talbot, I offer you during this day myself, all my works and prayers, joys and sorrows, and in particular, the worldly pleasures and delights of alcohol [or drugs or whatever else you are attached to but have decided to give up], which I forgo, as an expression of love for your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that these gifts may be pleasing to you and that you will favor me with your blessing, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

2. Christ-centered prayer.

The Jesus Prayer is probably the easiest way to stay focused on Jesus all day. It is a simple prayer that can be said multiple times during the day to break the monotony of mundane tasks such as driving, or during repetitive chores during the workday. The prayer goes like this:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

The Jesus Prayer has a long history going back to the early centuries of the Church. For the early Christians, it was a way to pray ceaselessly. Today it is especially well-known to Orthodox Christians; but many others say it as a simple and direct way to raise their minds and hearts to Jesus.

As you repeatedly pray the Jesus Prayer, your mind should be directed to the single thought of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, both in his humanity and his divinity. There is no special magic attached to the numbers of times you say it, but by praying it repeatedly throughout the day, you express the extent of your commitment to Christ.

3. Dedication of prayers of the day.

O Holy Spirit, may I receive Jesus Christ into my heart through you. As Mary his mother did, may I learn to know and love him without measure as Lord and Savior. Draw me to him so I can imitate him in all things and thereby obtain the blessing off my heavenly Father, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

This prayer gives purpose to the other steps of The Way. It expresses your general intention that as a result of all your prayers, your love for Jesus Christ may grow "without measure."

4. Spiritual Reading

Through prayer you will be able to develop your love of God to the point where it acts as a counter-attraction to your fondness for drink. Love comes from the heart, but the heart needs to be stimulated by the mind. Not only must you begin to know what it is you must love, but you must constantly increase your knowledge of it. If you are to truly grow in love of Christ, you must systematically build a foundation of knowledge to nourish your faith and ultimately your prayers.

A good guideline is to spend at least 15 minutes a day reading spiritual matters. This is the only part of the Matt Talbot Way outside of recitation of the prayers, that make demands on your time. When you think back to all the time you have wasted using and then sobering up, you should have no trouble finding these few minutes. A good time is just before going to bed.

The foundation of your reading should be the Bible, particularly the New Testament. You must learn about what sort of man Jesus is and even if you have read all the stories about Him before, read it from now on as if you have never heard of Him. Prayer to the Holy Spirit prepares your heart before you begin reading the Scriptures. Other reading may compliment the foundation reading of the Bible. Examples would be a good book on the life of Christ or a Christ-centered daily devotional.

5. Short prayers throughout the day.

We tend to take the good things in life for granted as though God didn't give them to us at all. To overcome this natural insensitivity, it is good to look for ways to remind yourself that God is your Creator, you are his creature, and all good things of life depend upon him. Grace before meals is a simple reminder of that essential relationship.

Christ-centered prayers of Step Two, such as the Jesus Prayer (and for Catholics, the Rosary or Mass) are key to the Matt Talbot way; but you should look beyond them to spontaneously speak with God.

Some prayers to be said throughout the day to fulfill Step 5.

Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.


Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me to come to Thee.
That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.


Prayer in Time of Anger

Lord Jesus, there is anger in my heart and I cannot root it out.
I know that I should calm down and offer the hurt and disappointment to You
but my emotion is running away with me.
Help me to overcome this weakness and give me peace of heart as well as mind.
Let me learn from this experience and grow into a better human being.


Prayer To Overcome Bitterness and Resentment

Father, I acknowledge that I've held resentment and bitterness against (name). I confess this as sin and ask You to forgive me. I forgive (name). Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask You to also forgive (name) . Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' Holy Name,


Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.


Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.


Act of Love

O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.


6. Evening Prayers

You have complete freedom to say whatever prayers that you are comfortable with. You may keep them as brief as you wish. This is a good time to rededicate your actions and prayers of the day to your primary objective of growing in love for Jesus Christ.

7. Christian Living

An essential part of The Way is that followers adhere to generally recognized Christian norms of living. The demands of church and society must also be considered. It is the height of hypocrisy to make your Daily Offering upon awakening, and then live like a heathen the rest of the day, even though you say a few prayers. You are not expected to be perfect, but you must at least try to lead a Christian life. Christians by name are just that. Christians who practice their faith may be the only Bible some God seekers read.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

St. Francis of Assisi and Matt Talbot

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), perhaps the best known saint world-wide, including non-Catholics.

Francis, a deacon rather than a priest, was an important model for Matt Talbot as Matt joined the Third Order of St. Francis, known today as the Franciscan Secular Order, in 1890, six years into recovery. Matt lived a life of simplicity, did not care for money, quietly exceeded in frequency the Order's days of fast and abstinence, attended all but two of their monthly meetings over two decades, went to daily Mass, prayed extensively, and actively practiced charity to all.

An alternative translation of the famous prayer of St. Francis is part of the study of the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve (page 99). It reads:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

Two introductory articles about St. Francis can be found at:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Prayer for those addicted

Venerable Matt Talbot, pray with me and for me so that
those caught in the viciousness of hatred, addiction, and
self-destruction will find their way to Truth before they
lose their lives.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Spiritual Awakening" Statue of Matt Talbot

This life-size bronze statue of Matt Talbot graces the back gardens of Loyola Retreat House in Morristown, New Jersey (USA).

The sculptor, Brian P. Hanlon, calls the statue, "Spiritual Awakening."

The plaque reads, " May this statue serve as a testimony to the miracle of sobriety and be a model to the suffering alcoholic."

Information about the retreat house can be found at

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Matt Talbot and the "Little Flower"

Matt Talbot read biographies of many saints as well as some of their writings. One of his favorites was St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who was canonized only a few weeks before Matt died. Her feast day is celebrated today.

Philip Maynard, author of To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety (2000) states while "Matt was enchanted with Therese," Matt ignored her warnings against severe fasts and mortifications (page 129).

For an introductory article on St. Therese, see:

You can download her autobiography, "The Story of a Soul," free-of-charge at:

It is important to note that the mother and father of St. Therese, Venerable Zelia and Louis Martin, are to be declared "Blessed" on Mission Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Annual Matt Talbot Novena for Sufferers

Matt Talbot - a Saint in Waiting

by Fr. Tom Ryan P.P.



Suffering has many human faces; young, old, rich, poor, town, country, tall small, married, single, separated; it does not discriminate.

A parent grieving the loss of their child, a young person rejected because they are ‘different’, a spouse separated due to compulsive drinking or some other addiction, a family with a drug addict, a person cut in their prime due to illness or disability. We all know the faces; we see them every day. Perhaps we see one when we look into the mirror.

Often it is hidden but the telltale signs of strain are there. Tragically, some take their own lives; others take pills, drugs or alcohol, try to escape but only adding to their portion of suffering humanity. It is vain to try and explain their situation by neat spiritual formulae. Suffering is too commonplace and pain too real.

Suffering may be mysterious, widespread and at times overpowering but no more so than the reality of the grace and courage of sufferers. The secular world, that we are all part of, speaks of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of tragedy, but would this be possible if the human spirit were not part of God’s spirit?

Matt Talbot, whose annual Novena begins in SS John & Paul Church on Tuesday September 30th at 7pm is an example of a fellow Irish man who in his own life knew suffering as a result of his addictive behaviour, but he also knew the other side of the coin when he experienced God’s love in his life.

Matt Talbot is just one example of many who, through their plight, caused in part by circumstances and in part by a personal vulnerability, still shine through and stay faithful to what they cherished and loved.

Despite all the reasons in the world for caving into death’s inevitability, Matt Talbot stayed focused on life’s hope and by so doing, shows us the truth of the cross’s triumph over suffering and death.

Suffering from addictions, or indeed sharing in the life of addictions, has many human faces. It often defies explanation, leaving us stuck for worlds and at times helpless. However, there is help available, be it medical or professional. There is also spiritual help available.

At this time of year our annual Novena in honour of Matt Talbot takes place in both Kilrush and Shannon. It’s the time of year when people gather for one hour each Tuesday from 7pm to 8pm to pray for all suffering or sharing in the life of addictions.

This is the 16th year of the Novena and attracts hundreds of people at both venues for each of the 9 nights. This year’s Novena begins on Tuesday September 30th in Shannon and continues each Tuesday during October and November.


Note: Although we do not have a label for "suffering," typing "suffering" in the "search blog" box will yield articles that include this word.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mother Mary, Matt Talbot, and a Porn Addict

As this story indicates, the influence of Matt Talbot is wider than just for those interested in recovery from alcoholism. More about Matt F. and his ministry to youth and adults can be found at his website below.

My Story
Matthew F.

By the time I was 12 years of age I was hooked on pornography.

I remember as a young boy, probably 6 or 7, playing in my grandparents back yard. I was making 'dirt bombs'. Dirt bombs or 'dirt ronnies' are when you grab fist fulls of hard dirt to throw at someone. The Harder the better. Me and my brother would spend hours out there mucking around throwing dirt ronnies and climbing Nan's TV tower. I remember very distinctly stumbling into my Pops shed and finding a center fold of a naked woman. I was completely captivated by it, it was beautiful and yet something in me knew I shouldn't be looking at it. Every time I'd come back to Nan & Pop's house I'd go back to that picture and stare at it.

About the age of 13 I had a good size stack of porn hidden under my bottom drawer. My best mate and I would steal them from newspaper shops and collect them. One day my Dad brought home this do-it-yourself carpet cleaning kit thing and so everything had to be lifted up off the floor to be cleaned (you know where this is going). Dad found my stash of porn under my bottom drawer which I had thought was an impenetrable hiding place. Dad came outside and said "nice collection of playboy's and penthouses you got there Matt, just don't let your mother find out." Now God bless my Dad, he's a good man and looking back I can see that he was trying to relate to me, trying to be nice. What he did though, was reaffirm the lie I'd been believing that real men look at porn and that there was nothing wrong with that.

At this time in my life I had a Granddad who hid porn in his shed, a Father who almost congratulated me for having my own stash, a grade 8 teacher who told us on a school camping trip that masturbation was "a good and healthy thing" and to top it off I had my best friends Mum who would take us to video stores and hire porn for us so me and my friend could go back to his house and watch them after dinner.

It got to the stage where I was masturbating and looking at pornography basically everyday (thanks to the internet), and the further and further I sunk in my addiction the more defensive I got towards the notion that porn was in anyway "bad" or "degrading". I'd tell myself that I just liked the beauty of womanhood more than guys that never looked at it. I told myself I wasn't hurting anyone. I said whatever I could to justify it.

In the year 2000 when I was 17 I had a life changing experience and became a Christian. This was the most profound and joy filled moment of my life. It also posed a problem. No matter how much I tried to justify my porn addiction the reality was and is that porn and Jesus don't go together, kind of like chewing gum and chips or toothpaste and orange juice. So I tried with all my might to stop. But like a alcoholic or a junkie I kept relapsing and going back to it like a dog goes back to lick up its vomit.

I knew that this wasn't the kind of man I wanted to become. What kind of man closes the curtains in his room and clicks around on the internet with his pants around his ankles all for the sake of tingly feelings in his groin. I knew this was a counterfeit of manhood and prayed constantly that I would be free. Over the course of the next few years I continued to struggle. Sometimes I'd go days, sometimes weeks, sometimes even months without looking at porn or masturbating. But those times of freedom were book ended by another hopeless fall.

Allow me to cut a very long story short.

One night while my beautiful pregnant wife was out I had had enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sick of trying so hard not to fall when it seemed only to make it worse. My first child was about to be born in 7 months and I KNEW this had to end. But how?

I saw a statue of Venerable Matt Talbot who is on his way to sainthood. In his life became addicted to alcohol at around the age of 12, he would even come home at times without a shirt or his only pair of boots because he had sold them for alcohol. This man and I were in a very similar situation for he too was sick of what his addiction was doing to him. I read how he went to a church and took a pledge for 3 months that not one drop would touch his lips, it was hard but he made it and then took the pledge for a year and finally for life. He fell in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. He considered himself a slave of Mary (don't be afraid of the language, I'll explain).

This statue I saw had a Celtic cross with a chain that ran around the border, in front of the cross was the Mother of Jesus who had the chains across her chest and in front of Our Lady was Matthew Talbot, on his knees, the chains around his wrists were broken and he was set free! From that day forward I to took a pledge for 3 months that I would not look at porn or masturbate, after the 3 months I took it for life.

I have prayed the rosary daily understanding that I could not overcome my addiction by will power. At the end of each rosary I hold up the beads in my hands and say "Mother Mary, I have taken up your chain, now take off myne!" What can I say? She has!! I am now experiencing a freedom from this I never knew possible. I figured that if I ever overcame porn than I'd still be severely tempted but would be strong enough to resist.

You want to know the reason I no longer look at pornography or masturbate anymore? I have NO DESIRE to. FREEDOM is POSSIBLE! I am not a man with any sort of super human self control but I am free.

We have to understand that women are beautiful, the most beautiful creatures on earth, it is good and holy for us men to be attracted to them! Even now as I drive down the road, if there is a billboard of a beautiful woman it turns my head! This is okay but we need to make a decision at that point. Do we praise God for her beauty or do we lust? The problem with Porn isn't that it shows too much, it's that it shows too little! Too little of the person! This is the problem! Women are beautiful, the naked body is BEAUTIFUL but divorcing the body from everything else is completely unhealthy in every respect. Looking back now I see that those women I looked at in the porn may as well have been dead for all I cared, because I was only after the body!

I know firsthand how addictive pornography can be, but I also know that true freedom and healing are possible.

Don't fall into the trap of saying that very foolish thing people say about porn, "Hey, everything is fine in moderation". No it's not. I can give you a few examples of things that are very much NOT okay in moderation: Racism, cocaine, suicide, prejudice. While alcohol is a blessing from God so long as we do not abuse it. Pornography is always wrong because someone is always being exploited. So while yes, pornography can become an "addiction" where it over runs your life. This does not mean that it is healthy in moderation.



This may be the statue that Matthew is referring to in his story.hiT& A

A 12-Ste

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Devotions for the Alcoholic Christian

Still in print after twenty years, Rev. Carl Nelson's book, Devotions for the Alcoholic Christian, might be of interest to a wider audience that just for the recovering alcoholic. Below is the publisher's description of this book followed by its web site's link.

"How does a Christian ever get started on the road to alcoholism?

"Where was God when I begged him not to let me take that next drink?"

How can a Christian cope with the guilt of actions committed "while under the influence"?

"How can I resume my role as an active church member and face a congregation who knows what I was like when I was drinking?"

In the search for answers to these troubling questions, the recovering alcoholic receives a great deal of spiritual input, but has often had a difficult time finding specifically Christian literature to supplement the recovery program.

In response to that very real and urgent need, Rev. Carl Nelson has prepared this devotional resource for the recovering alcoholic Christian. Based on the Twelve Step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous, each daily and nightly devotion includes a Prayer, Meditation, Life Example (based on composites of recovering alcoholics whom the author has known), and a Scripture Study, making these devotions ideal for incorporation into any recovering alcoholic's daily recovery program -- and particularly useful to those who hunger for the presence of Christ in their daily struggles."

Matt Talbot certainly had a "hunger for the presence of Christ" in his daily struggles.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stations of the Cross for Recovering Alcoholics

Stations of the Cross was one of Matt Talbot's regular spiritual practices in recovery. Paul at "Sober Catholic" BlogSpot has provided a commentary on each of the stations for recovering alcoholics
The first station begins at the bottom of your screen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Matt Talbot Healing Mass

This is an example of what might be instituted in a parish for those who suffer pain from problems of alcoholism and other drugs. (JB)

Community Voice
Issue No 108
Feb 8th-Feb 22nd 2008

The spirit of Matt Talbot is being invoked at a new initiative called ‘Lent-a-Hand’ which takes place at St.Philip’s Church, Mountview starting on 11th February, the first Monday of Lent. It is described as a healing mass for all the pain suffered from problems of alcoholism and other drugs in the community in Dublin 15. Matt Talbot

Fr. Diarmuid Connolly, retired Parish Priest of Castleknock describes as distressing the “hand-wringing that goes on in our society over drugs and alcohol related problems.” He believes that Matt Talbot, from a Dublin labourer background, provides an ideal inspirational figure for people who have encountered such problems. He says that Talbot overcame his own chronic addiction “using the Lord and Eucharist as his main source of strength.”

Matt Talbot was born into the poverty of Dublin's inner city in the middle of the nineteenth century. He lived with his mother in tenement Dublin and they moved eighteen times during his youth through a life of hardship and extreme poverty. He began drinking at twelve years of age, starting with beer before moving on to spirits and becoming a chronic alcoholic in just a few years.

In his enormous difficulties overcoming his problems, a priest helped him, giving him a rehabilitation programme which essentially incorporated the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, fifty years before AA was founded.

After a horrendous struggle, he found sobriety through prayer and self-sacrifice and remained sober for forty years until his death. His life story has already been an inspiration for alcoholics and addicts throughout the world and he has been considered by two Popes for canonisation in the Catholic Church. He died in 1925.

The mass in Mountview will take place on each Monday up to and including the 10th March.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Being Who You Are in Christ

Sometimes we treat ourselves very poorly. We may do something foolish and then kick ourselves to next week and back. And to some extent that is a justifiable treatment. But not continuously, and not even if one learns nothing from the experience. And certainly not if it is for the wrong purpose.

All things need to be done in the Light of Jesus Christ. God created each one of us, unique, without match in all the world. And at that moment He had a plan and a purpose for us--a goal to which we could rise. He loved us into existence and loves us to the end of our Earthly lives and beyond. We can choose to follow His plan or our own. Whichever way we choose, He will weave what we do into His plan. But one way we will find happiness and ourselves, and the other way we will find only self-will.

No other person can do what God has for us to do. I cannot be St. Teresa. I cannot be anything other than what I am. Thus, I am limited by what I am, and unlimited by what I can do through Christ. He wants each one of us to be a Saint--to be hope for someone who is in a very similar position. Most of us, in fact, are better encouragement than many saints, because we have lived lives that others can empathize with. I know that as my Carmelite group read Story of a Soul the comment kept coming up that "I couldn't be like that, look how holy she was at the age of four." True--you can't be like that, and the story of St. Therese is a little unearthly for most of us. We can't really empathize with that life. That is not to say that it isn't a profound inspiration and a profound blessing to all of us, but few of us spent our childhoods playing "Vow-of-Silence" Monks!

But take St. Augustine. Here is a saint I can empathize yet. And even in my mature years I find myself praying with him, "Lord make me chaste [I'd say Good] but not yet." Here is a man of passion of true human sympathies from the ground up--imperfect, headstrong, frustrating, in short someone we see when we look in the mirror. Some of us started life and are living lives as Therese (this concept boggles my mind--but I know it is true) the vast majority of us are more like Augustine. And being like Augustine in the modern world, we can offer more hope to those around us. They can see us rise from our merely human condition to become Human in God's eyes. It shows that such an ascent is possible for all. I think about Dorothy Day who, pregnant out-of-wedlock, had an abortion and went on to become one a great saintly person. Matt Talbot, who spent much of his early life curled up in a bottle, came by the strength (through God) to give it up and become another saintly person. Blessed Charles Foucauld was reputed to be something of a playboy, but he went on to be a Martyr. There are hundreds of examples of such people.

When we assume our identity in Christ, when we start to live that life of heroic virtue, our past life becomes a picture of hope for people in similar circumstances. When we rise above ourselves to assume the place God has for us in His plan, others can see that conquest of self is possible through Christ who strengthens us. Yes, lament your failures, your shortcomings, your own loses and stupidities, but embrace Him who loves you and share that sorrow. Become Who you are rather than remaining who you are. Assume your place in the body of Christ, with all your imperfections, flaws, and failures and let others know that there is hope for them. God has made you who and what you are for a specific mission. We will not see clearly the exact contours of that mission until we stand in His Presence. But trust Him and He will guide you in the paths that will make you what you must be--you can assume your identity in Christ.

Note: While the content of this article applies to all Christians, it should especially resonate with those in recovery.