Monday, March 31, 2008

"Confession-the now forgotten sacrament in Ireland?"

Once he decided to give up alcohol, Matt Talbot went to confession and then took a three-month pledge. Regular confession became one important aspect of his new life changes to stay sober and grow in love of Jesus Christ.

In light of the Divine Mercy homily given by Irish Cardinal Sean Brady yesterday and reported below, confession appears much less common in Ireland today than it was during Matt's lifetime. One might argue that active Irish alcoholics are even more likely not to go to confession than in the general population of Catholics.

Although it is not the same as confession with absolution by a priest, Alcoholics Anonymous (and other twelve-step programs) has a type of confession, although that word is not used within this program of recovery.

Step 4 asks the alcoholic to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself/herself. This step is recommended to be done with the guidance of a sponsor. Once completed, Step 5 asks the alcoholic to admit to God, to himself/herself, and to another human being the exact nature of his/her wrongs. That other human being could be the sponsor, or anyone familiar with the program, including a priest. The heavy burden lifted can be a life-changing experience that may eventually lead the non-confessing
Catholic alcoholic back to the confessional.

"Confession is now the 'forgotten sacrament -- cardinal"

By John Cooney
Irish Independent News

March 31, 2008

CONFESSION has become the "forgotten sacrament" for many Irish Catholics, according to Cardinal Sean Brady.

Preaching at Knock Shrine in County Mayo yesterday, the Primate of All-Ireland also linked the decline in confession to a wider spiritual crisis in values in an increasingly violent and celebrity-obsessed society.

He called on pilgrims attending a special Divine Mercy Sunday service to pray for a renewal of the traditional practice of confessing personal sins to a priest for absolution, a central feature of Irish Catholicism until a few decades ago.

"When we cease to worship God, we can lose the sense of direction and of purpose in life," the 68-year-old Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh warned.

He observed that the consequences of today's spiritual crisis in society -- or a crisis of values -- were becoming increasingly evident.

"We are becoming a more heartless, less forgiving and a less merciful society," he said.

"You see it in an increasingly aggressive and competitive attitude, in the more frequent resort to violence, in the relentless pursuit of the vulnerabilities of celebrities and public figures, for entertainment rather than for legitimate public interest and in the merciless culture of image compliance, not least among the young."

Cardinal Brady also suggested that this crisis was probably linked to our increasing departure from the practice of the Catholic faith, and to our loss of a sense of our being created and therefore dependent on a Creator other than ourselves.

"The problem cannot be addressed by social or political initiatives alone," he said.

"Our society needs a change of heart about God, about the Church, about living, enjoying and sharing a faith which makes us more loving and human."

Referring to yesterday's Gospel reading, Cardinal Brady quoted Christ's words to his apostles after the Resurrection that 'those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.'

"What incredible words," added the Cardinal. "What consoling words. The mercy of God is completely available to us. It is willingly and generously offered."


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Lord Jesus, I put myself into Your hands this day. I ask You, with all my heart, to cure the terrible addiction to alcohol (drugs) in (name the person). Create in them an intolerance for alcohol (drugs) that will prevent them ever offending those who love them again. And grant their loved ones the grace to forgive them for all the hurt they have caused. Through the Divine Mercy and blood of Jesus, I also pray that they will be healed of all withdrawal symptoms of this terrible affliction. I sincerely ask this, in the name of Jesus. Amen

Venerable Matt Talbot, pray for us!


Source: This and other prayers can be found at . Both of these sites have postings about Matt Talbot.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Divine Mercy, the Resurrection, and the Addict

Father John J. Lombardi
"I recently talked to a drug addict, and, point blank, he asked me why Catholics go to Confession. Here's an answer from St. Faustina and her "Diary of Divine Mercy":

"When I left the confessional, ineffable joy filled my soul so that I withdrew to a secluded spot in the garden to hide myself from the sisters to allow my heart to pour itself out to God. God's presence penetrated me and, in an instant, all my nothingness was drowned in God, and at the same moment I felt, or rather, discerned the Three Divine Persons dwelling in me. And I had such great peace in my soul that I myself was surprised that I could have had so many misgivings."

Why do we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday immediately after Easter? Because the Church wants Catholics to realize God is calling us to many graces thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession; that this Sacrament is a beautiful liberation from sin; it promotes the practicing of virtues, and it engenders a concrete entrustment to His Mercy. God says: "I have blotted out thy iniquities as a cloud, and thy sins as a mist: return to me, for I have redeemed thee" ( Is.44:22).

Now: Jesus came for three kinds of people- sinners, the sick and simple poor. Are you one of these or "outside Jesus' grasp"?

My friend the drug addict, himself detecting the "inner truth" of confession--we read St. Jas. 5:16: "Confess yours sins to one another and you will be healed"-- described the process of Confession: It's like getting garbage out of your body and soul.

That's right. So, make a confession to a priest soon! Here are five good reasons: 1.It's a Gift from Jesus: "He breathed on them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn. 20:22-23).

2. Saints like Mother Teresa and her Missionary of Charity of Sisters went regularly. She said: "Confession is humility in action. We call it penance but is really a sacrament of love." So: shine like the saints.

3. Get the garbage out. 4. Practice the Latin maxim: Bonum diffisum est-Good is diffusive of itself. When you are clean and free you help others be the same. 5. More graces can adhere in your soul if you are more sanctified.

One of the saddest things in our Catholic Church these last few decades is the rejection of Confession. This "spiritual staple" of the spiritual life is so grace-filled and yet so neglected today. Always remember, as complicated as life can sometimes be, The Three C's of The Spiritual Life: frequent Confession, Communion and Communication (prayer). Don't let your past mistakes be a present problem: entrust yourself to Jesus and his Church appointed priest-minister, the priest (cf. also Mt. 16:18), and Reconcile.

You may still be granted an indulgence, which is a release of the punishments of sin in the afterlife … granted by Pope John Paul II for the devout observance of the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday). The Decree of the Holy See offers: "a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, -Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Pope) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. 'Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!')." (Source:Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website.)

**************************************************** The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ is vitally important -"The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ" (# 638). Many today want to deny the bodily resurrection. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" emphasizes the bodily Resurrection, this way, in paragraphs # 638-655:

"Historical and Transcendent event"; "The empty Tomb"; "The Appearances of the Risen One," "Christ's Risen Humanity" …Given all these testimonies, Christ's resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact…Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the Apostles' faith will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace. From their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus" (#643-44).

Jesus Christ, in His Bodily Resurrection, triumphs over …

Sin: If Jesus didn't bodily rise from the dead, sin would have the last word of destroying the God-Man, and us. "If Christ has not been raised then your faith would be in vain" (I Cor. 15:14). Sin deforms, Christ's Resurrection transforms. A few years ago a pilgrim was driving by the Grotto on Rt. 15, headed for Washington. All of a sudden he looked up and saw the golden Mary statue-glistening-- and decided to stop. Driving up he wondered if a priest was around. After seeing the beauty of the belltower statue he realized a desire to make a confession. Sure enough, yes: the man found a priest, made a Confession and continued his trip. He was a changed man. Because Jesus rose from the dead in a glorified body, He gave the Apostles the ability to forgive sins. Simple spirits or "good causes" alone don't do this. Jesus' Resurrected body triumphs over sin: There is a holiness to beauty and beauty to holiness-it radiates.

Corruption-our bodies decay, but Jesus' didn't. Impassiblitiy is an attribute of Christ's glorified body. It means suffering no longer-in body or spirit. He gives us hints of re-vivified bodies here on earth thru "tastes of the resurrection". I recently witnessed one of God's miracles in life. Last Fall I went to see a lady in the hospital, who is a wife and mother, and in just giving birth was possibly dying. I didn't recognize her: she was sedated, medical tubes all over her, beeping monitors, purplish-colored skin, and covered by so much medical technology I could barely see her. I tried talking to her without a response, so I simply blessed her, leaving, thinking a worst-case-scenario. I left a note to her and her husband. A few months later I got a call from her friend: she was recovering and back home. Recently she came to the Grotto and with her large family, she received Holy Communion. "Lazarus revisited"! I was astonished by this "resurrection hint": no traces of suffering, but, oppositely, a serene face and courtly walk, no wounds or scars, a kind of gentle radiance about her-- she overcame all to live…How can you feed off of Jesus thru thanking Him at Mass, Holy Communion, prayer?

Death. "The wages of sin is death" (Rm. 6: 23). Lazarus was risen from the dead but, unlike Jesus, he died again. Jesus definitively overcomes death's power by His physical Resurrection. Death, which is a result of sin, has no ultimate power over Jesus, or us. Last Winter a pilgrim's husband died suddenly. She was grieving one morning when she heard the nearby Church bells ringing. Immediately she forgot her troubles and heard Jesus-she went to Mass and encountered the Crucified and Risen One. Death was transformed and her whole day changed. Likewise, another widow heard her husband say, just before his death-"You can always find me at the altar." Jesus Christ Risen transforms death.

Don't stop celebrating: Easter is not only an event, it is a Season, a state of mind and soul-by "knowing the power" of the Resurrection, St Paul says (Phil. 3:10). For Fifty Days, until the Ascension, we celebrate Jesus' Easter-saving-power and his promise. So: recall the saying, "Out of the tomb and into my heart." Catholics not only think about this, but concretely act upon it by the Five S's of the Spiritual Life: -Sacraments, Scriptures, Silence (prayer), Service, Saintly inspiration. These are ways to invite, embrace and immerse yourself in the Resurrected Jesus.

Meister Eckhart, a medieval German Dominican, lover of creation and the Creator, once described a kind of resurrection process: "Out of the ground the rod grows which is the soul in her purest and highest. It shoots out of this primal ground at the breaking forth of the Son from the Father. Upon the rod opens a flower. The flower is the Holy Ghost Who will rest and repose there." … Jesus hints of this indwelling Trinity in Jn 14:26, and St Paul hints it in Rm. 8:11. God desires a dwelling within us. As we know the Resurrection was historical-it happened way back then, and physical--disciples touched His wounds. But: this does not negate His resurrection power affecting us today--internally, metaphysically. Resurrection can also be a state of mind and ongoing conversion: endless Love generated within us. After all, St Paul himself wanted to know the power of the resurrection even though he didn't experience it historically, physically. Are you allowing God's "Primal Ground" and Life to be the foundation of all your thoughts, words, deeds? St Paul intimates an Eckhartian conversion by giving up selfish self to gain the "rod" of his soul in God, as he says: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross. I no longer live, I, but Christ within me" (Gal 2:19-20). Allow Christ and the Whole Divine Trinity to flower forth and live within you. Rest and repose there. (cf. Mk. 6:31). Become part of the Resurrection.

St Gregory of Nyssa counsels: "If by a diligent life of virtue, you wash away the film of dirt that covers your heart, then the divine beauty will shine forth in you." -May the Divine and Beautiful One, the Resurrected Jesus Christ, shine in and thru you to others."

Source: The title has been modified for posting purposes

"All Need Mercy...

Although Divine Mercy Sunday did not exist during Matt Talbot's lifetime, he prayed for and received divine mercy.

"His mercy endures forever."-Sir 51:12

Father John J. Lombardi


Padre Pio was famous for "reading hearts" and for his insights in hearing confessions-and so he can help you be insightful into your own soul, in preparing for your next confession. Jean Vianney used to hear them all night, so he can help you persevere thru any and all obstacles, when approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Blessed Damien the Leper Priest humbled himself and, in the midst of others, shouted his confession across a Hawaiian harbor, so much did he love the sacrament-- and so he can help you love it more!...

I was recently walking thru the Grotto with Don Briggs, our Mt St Mary's rugby coach, on a sunlit day (we were talking about a recent, bloody game!), when we came upon a group of pilgrims. A mother was walking with her children near the reflecting pool, encouraging her girls to pray as they tossed pebbles in it. She said: "And pray for grandpop-that he go to confession." I thought this was an interesting prayer-especially out loud. I began talking to the ebullient mom, and she said her mother said "dad" had not been to confession in fifteen years, and that mom was "concerned". Meanwhile, the girls continued hurling pebble-prayers into the pool. Walking away, I felt spiritually inspired by this manifestation of the mystical Body of Christ and the Love behind it.

This Sunday-the Second Sunday of Easter-- is Divine Mercy Sunday, recently proclaimed by Pope John Paul II. Today, believe it or not, we need God's mercy more than ever. Why?-you ask. We have wars, near and far, and raging nations to quell. The Christian family is attacked ceaselessly and on the verge of breakdown. Drugs, crime and murder occur in unprecedented numbers these days, and not just in inner cities. Our Catholic U.S. Church has just gone thru one of its worst years with clergy abuse issues. Catholic education and identity is in malaise and demise. There are the counterfeit sexuality problems (secularized sensuality parading as legitimate sexuality)--contraception, homosexualism, fornication, and pornography is becoming mainstream. Then there is the Culture of Death which seeks destruction of pre-born innocents and the elderly-and anyone not deemed worthy of "savage capitalism"…Yes, indeed, we need God's forgiveness today. In light of all this, two things are now required: to be candidly realistic by acknowledging the threats to Christian life today; and also to acknowledge the Good -Better-News: God forgives and is all merciful-if we ask Him.

But today there is the growing lack of the sense of sin: people just don't think "white lies" or abuse of the Sabbath-rest is sinful-thus, they miss out on mercy. Other people don't think pornography, gossip, or lack of charity are sins…They, too, miss out on mercy. Others deny the biblical "sacramentality" of Jesus Christ-- thinking they can become "whole" or "renewed" by confessing sins to God alone, neglecting the communal aspects of the Church and the extension of Jesus' priesthood-community. They ignore Jesus resurrection counsel (today's Gospel): "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20:23, and, His mandate to St Peter: Mt. 16: 19). St James says: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another…that you may be healed" (James 5: 16). Eschewing this biblical advice, many miss out on mercy …Some people take God's mercy-His compassion-for granted-and so don't even ask Him for pardon, missing out on mercy…Others, have been unfortunately trained to receive a kind of "general absolution" whereby they don't confess their individual sins to a priest, but only informally and nebulously, as part of a larger congregation. All these are missing out on mercy--how unfortunate!

But, follow the following phenomenal fact (excerpted from, Divine Mercy brochure): " On Feb 22, 1931, Our Lord Jesus appeared to a young nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, bringing her the message of Mercy for all mankind. Jesus appeared with red and white rays of light coming forth from his chest and asked her to paint an image with the saying, "Jesus, I trust in You!" on it. Jesus said: 'The pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. Fortunate is the one who dwells in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him…As a further sign of His forgiving love, Jesus called for the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated in the whole church, and also asked for a novena (nine days of prayer) to be added…(excerpted from Divine Mercy brochure). We also read:

"We can also see these rays as simultaneously symbolizing the Holy Spirit, whom Christ breathed into the Disciples during the same Octave-day appearance. On the strength of that Holy Breath, all sins are forgiven and 'at-ONE-ment' with the Father is accomplished. Here, God in Christ is reconciling the world to Himself (see 2 Cor 5:18). And here the Church, the newly-born Body of Christ, is commissioned to be the instrument of reconciliation down through the ages."

"The Feast of Mercy focuses on God's mercy as an event! It focuses on God's continuing action of mercy throughout salvation history as we see it recorded in the letter to the Romans, culminating in His loving plan to have mercy on all! (See Rom ch's 9-11.) This Feast is a summation of the event to His mercy active in our lives now. It is because of His mercy that we have forgiveness of sin and new life as children of God. This needs to be celebrated!

The Feast of Mercy is a Day of Atonement. The Feast of Mercy is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement (see Lv 16, Lv 23:26-32 and Sir 50). It is a day of forgiveness of sins for those who approach the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an annual celebration like the Day of Atonement-all sins and punishment are washed away in His infinite mercy. The focus of this paschal event is on God's mercy for us sinners and His free gift to those who turn to Him with trust. (From Divine Mercy

We are encouraged to partake of God's mercy-it is one of His essential attributes. Mercy, from the Hebrew word, hesed, means forgiveness, to pardon a wrong. God-as-sovereign is not obliged to excuse us, but out of His nobility and generosity, he does forgive us to free us. We see many other Lessons of Mercy in the Bible:

In David's lament, we read one of the most famous confessional psalms: "Have mercy on me, O God, in your abundant mercy blot out my transgression" (Ps 51:1ff). This is David's prayer after he committed the sin of adultery and asks for God's forgiveness. This Psalm is in the Bible not only to "report David's confession," but also to let you know God's mercy forgives all sins-even the most serious…I recently visited a drug treatment center and, after giving a conference on the "drunk-become-venerable-disciple," the Irishman- Matt Talbot, a counselor mentioned how much shame the resident clients have from taking drugs and being bad stewards of their bodies, often with extensive and gigantic effects upon others, thus finding it difficult to approach God, to seek mercy, or make a confession…I thought, how true that must be for these folks, and yet how truer it is, to just such persons, that God's mercy should be proclaimed and offered thru the Divine Mercy devotion-and to all of us who are sinners, no doubt, with our own shameful sins.

If and when we progress in the spiritual life we sense that, when we do sin, we can actually become enslaved to sin (cf. Jn 8:34), and its consequences; we subsequently perceive we need God's grace and mercy. When we ask for it and He does forgive us, we become free. Thus the psalmist says: "Let your mercy come to me that I may live" (Ps 119:156): How can you progress in the spiritual life and truly trust God to free you more-of all your sins and enslavements to bad, harmful, wrong things or people? Know the enslavement; know the grace given.

The prophet Jeremiah reports Yahweh saying: "I will surely have mercy on them" (31:20). Notice: God will surely forgive His people, and so make acts of entrustment unto His mercy by a daily examination of conscience, and filter out all bad stuff by seriously amending your life. Unlike humans, God is merciful-He does not have to learn it, acquire it or think about it, as we do, and then bestow it: He is mercy! Trust Him.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Mt 5:7). Have you heard the saying, "If you want to keep it, give it away" ? Practice this wisdom thru giving away mercy and forgiveness-without restraint-to others. And when it doesn't come easy, or you feel yourself resisting, do it anyway-stretch and grow-become someone else (cf. 2 Cor 5: 17-in Christ, become a "new creature"). We are called to be mirrors of Divine Mercy when we give it to others.

"Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy…'" (Mt 9:13). Many of us religious folks can get used to boxing in God by imposing inordinate rules on others-especially if we are striving for perfection and holiness (which we all should be doing). We need beware of this subtle phariseeism. Jesus constantly warned the Pharisees that we need to imitate God and His merciful ways as part of the call to the perfecting process. Mercy blends with justice and holiness, with righteousness and moral living-it is not an opposite, nor an enemy, but a fulfillment. Sometimes, when we strive for holiness we need to re-learn the lessons of mercy…

" Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me" (Mk 10:47).
This is the foundation of The Jesus Prayer. The full prayer is: "Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of God have mercy on me a sinner." Memorize this prayer. Some say it's the Gospel in miniature, because it acknowledges Jesus as God; that He can forgive us, if we acknowledge we are sinners. Pray it unceasingly …

"…Then gentiles might glorify God for His mercy" (Rm 15:9). St Paul is saying that God attracts thru His forgiveness-do you?...

"By His great mercy he has given us a new birth" (I pt 1:3). We need to be born again-spiritually-- by asking forgiveness and giving forgiveness-otherwise we are "spiritually dead" and outside God's mercy.

What to Do/How To Live Divine Mercy:
Go to confession-soon! Entrust yourself to Jesus-He is there, an Ocean of Mercy waiting for you. Scott Hahn-convert and speaker-- says it is like "medical care"-taking a cleansing shower to help others around you sense cleanliness and spiritual sheen…Intercede for others: especially agnostics and atheists-pray for their conversion. Pray especially for the most hardened sinners; your prayers can help them and alleviate God's just punishments upon them and the whole world…Spread His Mercy: forgive others (don't hold grudges), and, like Saint Faustina, talk about Jesus-as-mercy to others, and link them to His love. Be a witness by embracing Jesus' divine Light and spreading it to others. Think of Damien the Leper Priest and Mother Teresa of Calcutta-they loved Jesus in the Eucharist and in His disguises-in the poor and most unwanted: go find Him as you experience His mercy more and more…

"Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your Mercy. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident in Your Mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life."

How to Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet:
Pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostles' Creed. Then, on the Our Father Beads you will say the following words: Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. On the Hail Mary Beads you will say the following words: For the sake of His sorrowful passion have mercy on us and on the whole world. In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (From the Diary of the Servant of God, St. Faustina)


Thursday, March 27, 2008


In reading the verses and prayer for dealing with temptation below, we might think of the temptation Matt Talbot experienced about drinking.

Some writings about Matt tend to leave the impression that once Matt took the pledge not to drink, his "craving for drink" was instantly removed. Reading detailed articles and most biographies suggest, however, that just the opposite was true.

Even though Matt made significant changes in his life after taking the pledge, such as going to daily mass before work, going regularly to confession, spending evenings in churches, reading the bible and spiritual readings late each evening, and praying constantly, the temptation to drink was ever present for many months before it began to subside. He frequently mentioned to his mother that he wouldn't be able to keep his three-month pledge. But by the grace of God, Matt did not pick up a drink.

Matt once told his sister, Susan, to "never be too hard on the man who can't give up drink. For it's as hard to give up the drink as it is to raise the dead to life again. But both are possible and even easy for Our Lord. we have only to depend on Him in constant prayers" (Beevers, 1955).

Maynard (2000) notes repeatedly in his book that "Matt was able to slake his thirst only by developing another taste. Through prayer and meditation he cultivated a friendship and love for Jusus Christ," which took years to reach its "full flowering."

Beevers, John. Shining as Stars, 1955. Westminster, Maryland:
Newman Press, p. 110.
Maynard, Philip. To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety. 2000. New York: Alba House, pp. 10-11.

"Dealing with Temptation"

Mary Fairchild
March 25, 2008

If you're struggling with temptation in your life, take some encouragement from these verses and pray the prayer below, asking the Lord to help you deal with the temptations you face each day.

    "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
    1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

    “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”
    1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

Dear Lord,
You know the temptations that I am facing today. But your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear. I ask for your strength to stand up under the temptation whenever I encounter it. Your Word also tells me you will provide a way out of the temptation. Please, Lord, give me the wisdom to walk away when I am tempted, and the clarity to see the way out that you will provide. Thank you, God, that you are a faithful deliverer and that I can count on your help in my time of need.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

"To begin a new life"

On this Easter we are reminded that one can begin a new life of recovery from the slavery of alcoholism by the grace of God. This paragraph is from a spiritual letter previously posted here titled Matt Talbot - A Model for all Men and Women.

"Matt Talbot is a model for all men and women. To victims of alcoholism or drugs, he shows through his example that with the grace of God, recovery is possible. «Alcohol addictions are at times so strong that those closest to the alcoholic are led to believe that he will never overcome his addiction, and the alcoholic himself is tempted to lose all hope. It is good then to remember Jesus' resurrection. This reminds us that failure is never God's last word» (Social Commission of French Bishops, declaration of December 1, 1998). To those who are slaves to other sins (idolatry, blasphemy, abortion, euthanasia, contraception, adultery, debauchery, homosexuality, masturbation, stealing, false witness, slander, etc.), he reminds them that one must «never despair of God's mercy,» in accordance with Saint Benedict's recommendation (Rule, ch. 4). Our Lord promised St. Margaret Mary that sinners would find in His Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy. Just as it is the nature of a ship to sail on the water, it is God's nature to forgive and be merciful, as the Church confirms in one of its prayers. Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, also was able to write near the end of her manuscripts: «Even if I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with repentance, to throw myself into the arms of Jesus, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him.» She added, in spoken words, «If I had committed all the crimes it is possible to commit, I would still have the same confidence, I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into a raging blaze.» Matt Talbot's life eloquently proves that by turning faithfully to the Lord to ask forgiveness, one may, through the Sacrament of Penance, the normal way of reconciliation with God, begin a new life under Mary's maternal gaze."

The original source of this spiritual letter by Dom Antoinee Marie, OSB is from the Abbey of Saint Joseph de Claifval (in France) at

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"The importance of examples like Matt Talbot"

In his book titled, The Heart of Catholic Spirituality: Finding a Voice through the Centuries (Paulist Press, 2003), theologian Fr. Thomas Lane, C.M. notes the importance of examples like Matt Talbot who changed their ways and have journeyed back into the heart of God.
See pages 91-92 at
More contents of this book can be read at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lent 2008 - Alcohol: The Challenge of Moderation

Matt Talbot would be supportive with the attention being paid to the use and abuse of alcohol. He was known to loan money for a "pint" as long as the fellow did not abuse alcohol and deprive his family of the necessities of life.

Lent 2008 - Alcohol: The Challenge of Moderation

Media Pack for Lent 2008 Press Conference

Please click on the relevant links below to access the contents of the media pack:

* Press Release Friday 1 February 2008 - Bishop Eamonn Walsh hosts discussion with young people on alcohol issues Click here
* Remarks by Bishop Éamonn Walsh at the discussion with young people on alcohol and the World Wide Web launch of
the DVD: Find the Balance - Dare to Dream Click here
* Rite and Reason article in Irish Times Click here
* Links to resources for Temperance Sunday - 3rd February 2008 Click here

The Catholic Communications Office is an Agency of the Irish Bishops' Conference
Email us at

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Great Sinners became superlative saints because of Him"

The Holiest Week of the Year

Father John J. Lombardi

The Passion is God's response to all the problems of life: Sin, suffering., separation from God and others. God shows His love no more dramatically than in His Sacred suffering. So, this Holy Week, ask: Are you answering your problems with The Answer, Christ?

The word passion comes from the Latin root word, pati, which means "to suffer." So: when we are patient or are patients in the hospital, we suffer--hopefully thru Him, with and in Him. St Peter counsels: "Christ suffered for you and left you an example to follow in His footsteps" (II Pt. 2:21), and St Paul writes: "Love is patient, love is kind…" (I Cor 13: 4). St Augustine called Christ "The Medicine of Immortality," and said of Him, "O Lord, You are the Divine Physician, and I am the sick man." Though we may know from our religion and this Holy Week that Jesus is the Answer, we often forget this in daily life. How so, you ask?

Drugs. While the world offers legal drugs and illegal ones as answers to problems, Christ offers His Passion. Perhaps you've recently read about the Federal Drug Administration suggesting that antidepressants have been over prescribed and have possibly increased suicidal tendencies in some teens. Also observe that our country, awash in drug therapies has become like, as the book title says, a "Prozac Nation". This drug inducement can become a religion. Don't forget that more and more athletes are using steroids; infertile and contracepting couples are utilizing "drug therapies" to birth or not, and more children are on prescription drugs. And, of course: illegal drugs-suburbanite heroine users and urbanite-crack babies. Drugs can become a religion people bow to and swallow to solve problems. To legal and illegal drug-takers, ask: Have you tried Jesus, The Medicine of Immortality? Some people just never ask the question. The question-answer seems, today, almost naive, too simple; and some people prohibit the question from ever being asked. In His Passion Jesus shows us He is not sterilized or immunized from the world's worst problems: "For the Son of Man must undergo great suffering" (Mk 8:31). He is in solidarity with us. This Holy Week, the choice is ours-over-medication or passionate meditating-on Him, whom Isaiah prophesied:. "a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity"( ). Jesus offers Himself to a drug-infested culture, as when He speaks to the woman at the well, and us: "Whoever drinks the water I will give will never thirst" (Jn. 4: 14). Are you trying Jesus as your healing balm? The saints conformed themselves to Jesus especially by frequent reception of Jesus in the Eucharist, for they heard Him say: "The Bread that I will give is My Flesh for the world" (Jn. 6:51). Our heroine, St Bernadette, after seeing the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes was dying and asked her sisters to spread her diseased body out like Jesus in cruciform fashion, arms spread wide open. "There," she said, "Now I am like Him." When we meditate upon the Passion we are less likely to take, need, and push drugs to others. Become saintly: allow Him to become both your Divine Physician and Medication.

Another problem today is in replacing the Passion with inordinate counseling and therapy. David Brooks, in a recent New York Times column, wrote of Christopher Lasch and his classic book ''The Culture of Narcissism.'' "Lasch (calls) the therapeutic mentality an anti-religion that tries to liberate people from the idea that they should submit to a higher authority, so they can focus more obsessively on their own emotional needs." Simply put: Americans are talking more to one another than to God. A recent New York Times Magazine article (Mar ) detailed a philosopher who is challenging and wresting the power held by counselors and therapists in our culture, by promoting philosophy as answer to life's problems. Philosophy--"love of wisdom"-this guy is saying, is the bigger answer to problems, not a biased analyst or co-opted counselor. You know, Plato, Aristotle and, hopefully St Thomas Aquinas, who give more substantial answers to problems like Why is there evil?, than do talk show hosts and therapists. He's got a point. But: philosophy is still not total: There is a God Who made substantial answers and the very desire in us to seek them--Christ is the Way, Truth and Life (Jn. 14:6), Who promises liberation: "You shall know the truth and the Truth shall set you free" (Jn.8: ). This Holy week consider how, in the Eighth Station of the Cross Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem (see Lk 23:28)-- He Who Himself was suffering consoled others. Will you let Him help you or embrace other, partial, human answers? Hear Jesus say: "Come to Me all you who are weary and I will refresh you" (Mt. 11:28). We are impoverished when we keep our problems from God. God in some sense is like the prodigal son's father. How joyous it must have been to have the son return from the poverty that was his humanity.

There is another partial answer offered by the world, and is called in David Brook's column, "Hooked on Heaven Lite". You know the fare: everybody goes to Heaven; no Cross or blood thank you; Christianity without grit, sin and blood-redemption. He writes: "Here, sins are not washed away. Instead, hurt is washed away. The language of good and evil is replaced by the language of trauma and recovery.-- Do you feel good about yourself? " The theologian Niebhur analyzed this condition last century and described it as: "A God without wrath brought men without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross." We are in constant tendency in our American modernist West, to wrest Christ from His Cross (witness fewer Crucifixes within sanctuaries); separate His suffering from our redemption (it seems, today, old fashioned to "offer up sufferings"); split His offer of salvation from our walking of the Stations of the Cross (a passing phenomena in Catholic America). And yet, St Paul proclaimed Christ crucified, (I Cor 1:23) and said: "I have become crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:19) and "The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us being saved it is the power of God" (I Cor 1:18)

The Passion presents us with an alternative to the non-mystical mish mash of sterilized spirituality. We should see it both in Jesus' historical Passion "yesterday" and His ongoing Passion "today". Fr Chester Snyder, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., recently made the beautiful connections of salvation and sweat, Yesterday's Passion and Today's: "I don't have to go to the movies to see Jesus crowned with thorns. I see that when I hear that someone has profaned your good name and spread lies and rumors about you. But you resist the temptation to respond with like-hatred and venom. And so the passion begun by Jesus lives on in you anew…Our task is to be Simon of Cyrene in the name of Jesus so that the suffering of others does not end on a cross of despair or indifference."

The answer of The Passion is, if you'll pardon the expression, Gritty Divinity. Jesus is not only pure, Heavenly, undefiled divinity--Blissful Love, He is also a man, earthy, real, passionate, and loving. He is the perfect combination of both-grittiness and divinity. There is no one like Him, so, don't try any other, partial answers. Buddha is only human. Krishna is a myth. Lao Tzu of Taoism is a doubtful historical figure. Mohammed is a prophet. Plato and Aristotle were great Greeks, though not gods. None of these figures, as good as they were, were God, or are as in love with us as Christ, shown by: Blood. Sacrifice. Humiliations.

How will you, like Our Lady at foot of the Cross, adore His sacred Passion? -Participate in it? - Witness to others:

Last week a Pilgrim-penitent came to the Grotto to confess his sins, and brought with him three mentally retarded, blind men who could not be left alone. The Pilgrim could not reach the Chaplain nor depart from his blind friends, so he left the Grotto a little frustrated. Then: his car broke down near Cunningham Falls St Park. Hours later the Chaplain departed for a penance service and, steaming along on Route 15, saw a man waving his arms for help, near by a broken down car. It was the Pilgrim who sought confession earlier at Grotto. They greeted each other and transferred the blind men to the Chaplain's car and headed to the pilgrim's home to amend his car situation. The Pilgrim explained the purpose of his visit to the Grotto, and his frustration, and also his car troubles. The men in back could hardly hear, as they blindly, but contentedly, gazed into space and enjoyed the Spring breeze and a bold sunshine warmed them. As they buzzed along, the Chaplain asked: "Do you want to make a confession now?" The Pilgrim said, "Sure. That would be great." The man confessed and was freed. They eventually arrived at the group home and began escorting the three blind men inside, only after the Chaplain realized the men couldn't walk on their own. They needed intense and incessant help, and patience-- to assist them in their plight. In utter amazement the Chaplain looked back and saw one man standing idly in the front lawn, child-like, awaiting his turn to get escorted, flailing in the wind for help, sun shining on his shaved head, eyes wide open, gazing, but not seeing: Jesus in His Disguises. Walking His Passion again… The Chaplain then realized: this Pilgrim was participating in the Passion by his suffering in love with the helpless men. And the Pilgrim was responding to the Passion by his confession, and he was witnessing The Passion to others by bringing these vulnerable men to Church, to Holy places. May we do the same.

Are you asking the Big Questions and seeking, embracing Big Answers--Christ, the Lord

Great Sinners became superlative saints because of Him -think of St Augustine who came out of sensuality and ; Mystics have sought Him, drunks have stopped drinking for him (Ven. Matt Talbot); Little girls have turned His Great Way into a marvelous "Little Way" (St Therese) helping Him to be accessible to all. People have died for him-just like Him (St Stephen in Acts, and St Paul Miki in Nagasaki, Japan, both saying: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"). He continues His passion today: are you with Him? How will you adore and respond to His passion. What a paradox, what an answer--The Lord of Glory is crucified. (cf.I Cor 2:8), that we might have everlasting life.

Source: The title of this 2004 homily was changed for posting purposes.

Whereas "sinning" or "sinner" is not part of a twelve-step program vocabulary, Matt Talbot had absolutely no doubt that he was a sinner and needed the Lord's help to daily overcome his thirst for drink and character defects. And to even hint he was becoming a "saint" in sobriety would have been unimaginable to him.

For one overview of sin among major religions, see

Friday, March 14, 2008

"One of Matt Talbot's practical strategies to avoid drink"

The Word Among Us
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Mark 9:41-50

Did Jesus mean we should literally cut off a hand or gouge out an eye to avoid sinning? Well, the New Testament records no instances of such mutilations by any of his first followers. Those who heard Jesus’ words apparently understood them as hyperbole, deliberate exaggerations Jesus used to convey his point. In fact, such a way of speaking was common to first-century Jews.

So what did Jesus mean? Simply that sin has the power to drag us down and that we should do everything we can to avoid it. It dulls us, and dishonors the life of God in us. What’s worse, it dilutes our ability to receive the power and fruits of the Holy Spirit in us, causing us to lose our “saltiness” (Mark 9:50).

Of course we know that if we should sin, we have only to turn, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness (Sirach 5:7). But repentance is what we do after we have sinned. What should we do beforehand so that we don’t sin in the first place? That’s the issue Jesus raised: our necessary, and practical, efforts to avoid sin. A good place to begin is knowing what causes us to fall, which means looking hard at ourselves every day. The better we know ourselves, the clearer we will be on the steps we need to take. Take, for example, Venerable Matt Talbot—an alcoholic who learned how to face his weaknesses practically. One of his strategies was to never carry money in his pocket as he walked to and from work. With no means to buy himself a drink, he “cut off” what had once been his lifeblood.

Each one of us can find such practical ways to combat sin. And if a practical strategy isn’t apparent, we have only to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. God wants us to be free from slavery to sin. He wants us to keep salt in ourselves. And so he is committed to helping us find the right balance between relying solely on our own strength and waiting passively for some miraculous deliverance. He will give us his supernatural grace as we make a plan and strive to implement it.

“Holy Spirit, I want to break with sin in my life. Help me to find practical ways to cut off whatever causes me to offend you, so that I might be salt in your kingdom today.”

Sirach 5:1-8; Psalm 1:1-4,6


Thursday, March 13, 2008

"A Plan of Action"

1st Sunday of Lent—March 12, 2000

“B” Readings: Gen. 9:8-15 • 1 Pet. 3:18-22 • Mark 1:12-15

Title: Lent and Self-Discipline

Robert P. Clark - Homiletic & Pastoral Review -
February 2000

Purpose: to show that we also are (1) strengthened by overcoming temptation; (2) strengthened by self-imposed hardships.

Last Wednesday, Catholics around the world were marked with the sign of the cross and blessed ashes. The age-old admonition “Remember man that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return,” rang out in our churches. As Almighty God set the rainbow as the sign of the old covenant in the first reading of Genesis from today’s Holy Mass—so he has once again set the cross of Christ before us at the start of these forty days of Lent. Following the scriptural example of Our Blessed Lord, we begin this holy season in a spirit of self-discipline. Extra prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the rule of the day. These time-tested spiritual practices allow us to open our hearts to God’s will and to overcome the temptation of Satan and of the world.

Every Catholic needs to have a special “plan of action” for these sacred forty days—individually tailored to those areas in our personal lives that have the most need of transformation. Parents and grandparents have a tremendous responsibility in this respect; not only by setting a good example, but also by encouraging and suggesting ways that their children and grandchildren can open themselves to the life of Christ by sacrifice and self-denial.

Matt Talbot was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 2, 1856. He was the second of twelve children. Matt’s parents Charles and Elizabeth were poor and his early home life lacked the stability which is often the cornerstone for good living later in life. Matt’s formal education amounted to little more than one year’s worth of school. By age twelve Matt Talbot had his first job at a wine bottling store—he was also a drunk. In his early teens he began a slippery slope of alcohol addiction which took its toll on his body and on his soul. He worked to make money to drink and he drank trying to find the meaning of life in a bottomless well of despair. After being abandoned and rejected even by his drinking “buddies,” Matt sobered up long enough to know that after sixteen years of alcoholism he would soon be dead if he didn’t sober up for good. He took the “pledge”—the solemn promise to never drink alcohol, the promise made so popular in Ireland by the noted Franciscan Father Mathew.

Matt Talbot made the pledge for three months, holding on day by day, and then he renewed it for several more months. He returned to the sacraments and went to Holy Communion. The first three months were the hardest. Matt turned to Christ for the support needed for an entirely new way of life. He went to Confession weekly and assisted at a 5:00 a.m. daily Mass before going to work. His Catholic Faith and devotional and sacramental life became the center of his existence. Within a year he made the pledge for life and for the next forty-one years remained sober.

Matt Talbot’s self-denial in regard to alcohol was to be key to a new way of life. All of this was taking place long before any twelve-step programs or support groups were available for those suffering from addiction. He developed a personal regime of prayer and fasting during the various liturgical seasons, encouraging a friend to fast by saying, “We do well to punish the body and not by studying the gut” (p. 364, Modern Saints, Book Two, Ann Ball, Tan Publishing, 1990). In various ways, using a board for a mattress, wearing penitential chains and giving almost all his salary to the needy, Matt was able to express his love for Christ by an intense self-denial. It was in this self-denial that he was free to find Christ.

Matt Talbot died on Trinity Sunday, June 7, 1925. He died alone on the street on his way to Holy Mass. Matt was fond of telling people, “How can anyone be lonely, with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?” (p. 364, Modern Saints II). Matt Talbot found Jesus Christ through self-denial and self-discipline. Christ was his constant companion in life and in death.

This same union should be our aim for these forty days of Lent. Begin now to master your will, bit by bit, for the glory of God. With a fresh spiritual focus, you will be able to use each of the forty days of Lent to grow spiritually according to the mind of Christ and the Church. Make your spiritual “pledge” today. Whatever holds you bound, allow Christ to free you in the self-denial of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 538-540, 1434-1438, 2099-2100.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"St Patrick's Day, addiction and Matt Talbot"

As St. Patrick's Day nears, this blogger publicly describes some of what this feast day, addiction, and Matt Talbot mean to her. Thank you, Jackie.

"St Patrick's Day, addiction & Matt Talbot"

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ
Thursday, 8 March 2007

Just wanted to reflect on the above. March 17th sees the wonderful Feast of St Patrick, which is a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland. I am second generation, Irish, with my father coming from Dublin. One of my grand-parents was from Crossmaglen, in the North..bandit country as it was more recently known! My favourite part of Ireland is Wicklow & its mountains. It has a shrine to St father's name is Colm.

In Ireland it was common to take the abstain from alcohol for life. Some of my aunts & uncles did that. Myself & my mother have never had an alcoholic drink..yes i do mean 'never', & are Pioneers, dedicated to The Sacred Heart. We are supposed to say a daily prayer..oops!

Sadly, in my very large, wider family there are many alcoholics. This addiction to alcohol has been excruciatingly painful to watch & has caused untold misery. One family member, by the grace of God gave up alcohol after 20 years of binge-drinking, with several hospitalisations, & now attends AA..Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a wonderful programme of recovery. It has 12 spiritual steps,

Number 1..We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, & that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will & our lives over to the care of God (as we understood Him).

4. Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves & to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all people we had harmed, & became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory & when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer & meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (as we understood Him), praying only for knowledge of His will for us & the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others & practice these principles in all our affairs.

I personally find it a wonderful programme. There is a group Al-Anon, for the family & friends of alcoholics, which offers excellent support, by telephone, & weekly meetings. There are also on-line groups.

One person who suffered from the disease of alcoholism, was of course, the Venerable Matt Talbot. Prayer for the Canonisation of MATT TALBOT

Lord, in your servant Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give us courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Father, if it be your will that your beloved servant should be glorified by your Church, make known by your heavenly favours the powers he enjoys in your sight. We ask this though the same Jesus Christ Our Lord- Amen.

Matt Talbot's tomb, is in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sean McDermot Street, Dublin 1.
Anyone who receives a favour through his intercession is requested to write to the Vice-Postulator of the cause, c/o the above named Church.

As i mentioned above our family is 'riddled' with least 4 generations being affected. It is a 'family illness' with a high genetic cause as well as circumstantial. If anyone wants to ask me questions or know more feel free to e-mail me.

Calix is a Catholic Organisation, with its own Chaplains (alcoholic in recovery), which meets in Birmingham, monthly. It begins with confessions, Holy Mass & then a meeting, with alcoholics & their friends & families..It should be listed in The Diocesan directory.

Well, that's addiction & Matt Talbot, taken care of!

I will just finish on asking the great St. Patrick to intercede for all our intentions during the time close to March 17th...

God bless,


Fr Sean Coyle said...

I'm delighted that you've put up a post about alcoholism. There's an excellent article on Matt Talbot at: . You’ll also find interesting material on St Patrick whose feast is still a holyday of obligation in Ireland. The website of the Pioneers is . The recent pastoral letter of the Irish Bishops, Alcohol, the Challenge of Moderation, is available in PDF format in English, Irish and Polish at , the website of the Irish bishops. You can also read the text in simpler format at

I introduced a friend here in the Philippines to Matt Talbot. She has a brother who is alcoholic and also gay. She and her family have been praying through Matt's intercession and the last time I met her she told me that her brother was recovering from his alcoholism. When I was a kid going into town in Dublin with my mother, we sometimes passed through Granby Lane, at the back of the Dominican church, where Matt died and we'd say a prayer there. Paul VI and JPII were both very much aware of him (Paul served in the nunciature in Dublin for some years) and wanted to advance his cause. I think his sanctity was and is evident. And while his asceticism was quite extraordinary, it was done under the guidance of a spiritual director and, clearly, didn't take away from his work or anything else. On the contrary. His asceticism was that of the early Irish monks. The evidence available too suggests that the chain on his body was something he wore only occasionally and it was more of a symbolic chain rather than a shackle. (I don’t think the early Irish monks wore chains.) And it was the chain that drew the attention of the press to Matt after his death.

Fr Sean Coyle

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

It was facinating listening to your 'walks' with your mother round Dublin, & visiting the place Matt Talbot died. it was interesting your explanation of the 'chain' as we all can get a bit carried away spiritually, when mostly the saints were very level-headed 7 their use of penances was highly 'regulated' by their directors. Generally, Matt was 'just a humble servant in the lord's vineyard'..where have we heard that before?

Re the 'dual-diagnosis' of that gay & alcoholic, that scenario is very common. Also mental illness is often associated with usually knows which comes first, or if the 2 just co-exist.

All the same it would be good to pray for all those suffering from all these afflictions, through the intercession of Matt Talbot.

Thanks so much for posting Fr Sean, & it's great to know St Patrick's Day is still a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland!

God bless

Joee Blogs said...

Wow Great that there's another supporter of the cause of Matt Talbot. I too wrote about alcoholism and a post about Matt Talbot recently but didn't publish it. I think his cause has gone rather quiet recently which is extremely sad.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"The Call to be Set Free"

In reading a homily such as this, especially during Lent, we certainly can apply the contents to ourselves but also think of its application in the life of Matt Talbot, since we have a perspective of him through biographies not only during this drinking days but also his years of sobriety and total dedication to the Lord and his Mother. Even if we are not fully aware of any addictions or as Gerald May says, "attachments," we have at least inklings of "parts of ourselves that are wounded or dead, imprisoned or in darkness." Are we willing to go to any links, today, to leave behind that which does not give us life and accept the Lord's call to be set free?

He Already Knows
March 8, 2008 Homily

Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.

Ez 37:12-14 / Rom 8:8-11 / Jn 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

A priest was teaching his weekly Bible class, and he asked the members how they'd introduce themselves to the Lord when they got to heaven. The first one said, "Lord, I'm Joan. I was married for 47 years; I raised three wonderful children, and I always baked the cupcakes for school. That's who I am."

Another said, "Lord, I'm George. I was the biggest contractor in the county. Almost all of my buildings were good; and I tried to watch out for the little guys. That's who I am."

And another said, "I'm Harry. I was the school janitor all my life. Kept the place real clean, and was never mean to the kids either. That's who I am, Lord."

And so it went till finally it was the turn of the oldest man in the group. He spoke very softly: "I won't need to introduce myself," he said. "The Lord already knows who I am."

The Lord already knows who we are from the inside out, and he looks at you and me with the same love that he had for his dear friend Lazarus. He knows out successes and our triumphs. He knows how much they cost us. And he's very proud of us.

But he also sees what's dead in us, just as clearly as when he looked at the dead Lazarus. He smells the smell. He sees the parts of us that are locked up behind solid rock, as Lazarus was. He sees the parts of us that are so tied up that we can't move. And he calls out to us by name, just as he called Lazarus. "Come out!" he says. "Don't stay in that place of death any longer. Come out into the fresh air and the light; and be released from your bonds, whatever they are. Come out, and live, and share our friendship. Come out!"

That is Jesus' call to each of us this day. "Leave behind what cannot give you life, and come into deeper friendship with those who can give you life: the Lord and his good people." That is Jesus' call.

If we are to answer his call, we must name the parts of ourselves that are wounded or dead, imprisoned or in darkness, and then give those parts of ourselves to him to be healed, resurrected, and set free. That is what he'll do for us, if we let Him.

So let us spend a little while with him in the quiet of our heart. Let us name our darkness, our prison, our woundedness — whatever it may be — and give it all to him. We can count on him and trust him, because he loves us even more than we love ourselves. Thanks be to God!


Friday, March 7, 2008

The Particular Examen and Matt Talbot

In the chapter "On examining One's Conscience" (Chapter 9 in his book, All My Liberty: Theology of the Spiritual Exercises), the late Fr. John J. Hardon, S.J., discusses two kinds of examen: general and particular. Regarding the wisdom of the particular examen, Fr. Hardon uses St. Francis de Sales and Matt Talbot as examples.

To read these examples, look under the heading, "Two Kinds of Examen" within Chapter 9 at

The entire book can be read online by scrolling down to the individual chapters of All My Liberty at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Replacing Alcohol with Jesus as the Bread of Life"

This homily was given by Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie, OMI, Diocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, Manitoba, Canada, on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B, in 2006 and titled, "Put your faith in Jesus-the Bread of Life."

Archbishop Lavoie uses the example of Matt Talbot as one who replaced alcohol with Jesus as the Bread of Life. The daily Eucharist before work (and multiple times on Sunday) became extremely important to Matt from the time of his last drink. This homily can be read at

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Hope for the alcoholic"

Sunday Meditation


Msgr. Theo Nwalo

From our earlier meditation on the subject, hope, it is clear to us that there is hope for each and every sinner provided such sinner personally co-operates with the grace of God being offered to him. As long as the sinner, on realizing his offences, and willing to, and actually does, co-operate with God's saving grace, he will surely gain salvation.

In this and subsequent meditations, we shall present some encouraging samples on how this salvation story played out in various categories of grievous sinners. In this episode we turn attention on those enslaved by alcohol and drug addiction.

On June 7, 1925, a 69 year old unidentified man, an unskilled worker, collapsed and died outside a church in Dublin Ireland. He was later identified as a simple devout Christian whose face was common place in his work place, on the streets of Dublin and in the church which the made his regular attendance. Further inquiry revealed him to be a man who for 41 year lived heroic and penitential life.

In his workplace, he was so cheerful, so hardworking and so honest that his fellow workers looked up to him for leadership and encouragement. Out side the help he rendered to fellow employees, his wages went to charity supporting so many institutions for the needy and the promotion of the catholic faith. He spent very little for his personal needs. His life was such an inspiration that the cause for his canonization was introduced in 1947. Today, the influence of this unskilled labourer has gone world-wide. People flock to his tomb and fervently pray that this “poor serving and lowly ''servant of God be canonized by the Church.

Way back in 1871, a very heart-rending story began to unfold. It was the story of a boy of 13 who had set out on a life journey of alcoholism. His biographers in their various ways said of him: “As he was rounding out his twenties, his paycheck was blown in for drink. His galloping thirst was too far ahead of him. His paycheck was too small to last out the week. By that time, he had to (crawl and before drinks) from his pal's ………..” He was “bending the knees to but one god drink. His whole mind's march but to one thing- drink. His work's wages wasted on one object drink. His whole character formed by one master drink”. “He was an errand boy for a wine merchant; at 13, he came home drunk on wine. He was removed by his father, to work on the docks; he came home drunk again on whiskey. At seventeen he became an incorrigible topper. His week's wages were handed over in lump to the bartender, who then proceeded to dole out drink to the dawdling drunk. By the middle of the week he was through his money and became then, suppose, a kind of gadfly, taking or begging a shot from anyone who would stand him one” What a miserable picture of a lost cause, you would say. It would be better and more beneficial to divert, attention from this chronic alcoholic and channel those resources and energy to the so many others who are both capable and willing to move in the right direction. After all, this child destined for alcoholism one out of twelve children in the family. This line of argument is sound, that is, as far as human reasoning goes. However, with God and his graces, it is altogether faulty. This is because human logic and wisdom have denied the presence and effectiveness of the divine virtue of Hope.

Through this meditation, God tells us to take another look at the just narrated stories of the boy-alcoholic and the candidate for canonization. They are biographies of the same person: MATT TALBOT. Yes, the chronic alcoholic Matthew Talbot their need into holy Matt Talbot.

The big question is: how did this come about? The answer is that he eventually summoned courage to grab the life line, Hope, which God had all the while been dangling before him. This is how the turn around came: how the actual grace won. One day at age 28, the drinking friends of Matt Talbot got tired of giving him free drink's and bluntly refused to offer him another one. Such rejection proved too painful for Matt. That rejection was the heavy electric worth that doctors apply to re-energise a failing heart. It was a painful treatment but lovingly administered to receive a dying patient. Thus jolted back to life, Matthew Talbot there and then resolved to chart a new and salutary course: stop drinking. That evening when he made this decision, marked the beginning of the second part of his life: a life of simple saintliness. When he took the pledge to stop drinking even his mother was skeptical about his sincerity and advised him never to make false promise to God. However, Matt was fully determined to make it. He would never let go the life-line thrown to him. He confessed that the first three months without alcohol were the hardest, but he persevered especially through prayer, penance and the Eucharist. “He Prayed for the grace of prayer and got it in abundance. His hunger for it slowly deflated his hankering for liquor”.

The life of the dyed-in-the-wool alcoholic turned Saint: Matt Talbot is model, an inspiration for those enslaved by alcohol and by other drugs addictions. For these people, Matt Talbot has this very important message. “Give up your addition, but do not give up Hope. There is hope for your salvation”.

God in His infinite mercy, daily and continually patiently goes after these addicts, throwing them the life line- Hope, and praying them to grab it for their salvation. Such life line (call it Actual Grace, If you like) comes oftentimes, in strange and despicable forms, as it did in the case of Matt Talbot. It is up to each one to recognize the moment of actual grace and grab it. The life line may come to you through health problems resulting from your alcoholic or drugs habit. It may come through loss of job opportunity due to your drug or alcohol abuse. It may come to you through various family problems arising from your addiction. It may come to you through some friendly advice or even through anger from relations and friends.

Have you survived accidents of any kind? That is your moment of actual grace. Have you ever read the Bible? Have you ever listened to a homily: to some spiritual reflection? Have you ever heard or read the story of anyone that struggled to over come his weaknesses? Have you ever seen the anger and disappointment on your child's face resulting from ridicule from other children because you are an addict? You may perhaps be aware of others, especially children, making fun of you and unpleasant remarks about you because of your life of alcohol and substance addiction. These occasions are the life line, moments, of actual grace offered to you to change and be saved. You may also have witnessed or heard of incidents of problems or death that befall others in your addictions circumstances. Such incidents force you to tell yourself: this could have happened to me: “There go I but for the grace of God”.

The message is, and continues to be for you addicts: there is hope for your salvation. You can never be defeated by addiction unless you personally choose to give up. Therefore, grab the life line and look up to your patron saint Matt Talbot, for inspiration.