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.