Sunday, January 24, 2010

Matt Talbot and St. Francis de Sales

Despite very limited formal schooling, Matt Talbot slowly learned to read the Bible and spiritual writings with help from spiritual advisors after his conversion and as he began to recover from alcoholism. One of the books that Matt read and kept in his book collection was "Introduction to the Devout Life," by St. Francis de Sales, although Matt read other books by him. (JB)

Saint of the Day: Sunday, January 24, 2010:
St. Francis de Sales

Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder’s place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.
At 35 he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, “A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.”Besides his two well-known books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman.... It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world. ”

In spite of his busy and comparatively short life, he had time to collaborate with another saint, Jane Frances de Chantal, in the work of establishing the Sisters of the Visitation. These women were to practice the virtues exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth: humility, piety and mutual charity. They at first engaged to a limited degree in works of mercy for the poor and the sick. Today, while some communities conduct schools, others live a strictly contemplative life.


Francis de Sales took seriously the words of Christ, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” As he said himself, it took him 20 years to conquer his quick temper, but no one ever suspected he had such a problem, so overflowing with good nature and kindness was his usual manner of acting. His perennial meekness and sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint.”


Francis tells us: “The person who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: he is disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his view in the most charitable and pleasing light.”

Note: Additional information about St. Francis de Sales can be found at: and

Native Americans support campaign for Matt Talbot

Independent Catholic News
October 2, 2000
A group of Native American Indians came to Dublin last week for a special Mass to support the beatification of Matt Talbot. Dallas Chief Eagle was among an international congregation who joined President Mary McAleese at a Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Dublin, to promote the cause of Talbot, who died in 1925. "The Pope has shown a particular interest in Matt Talbot and commended him to the bishops of Africa as a protector of those who suffer from any kind of addiction," a spokesman said. Talbot was officially declared 'Venerable' in 1973 - one of the first steps on the road to sainthood.

Born in 1856, to great poverty, Talbot began drinking at the age of 12. By his 20s he was a serious alcoholic but in 1884 he underwent a conversion experience and became a teetotaller and ascetic. Talbot gave away all his possessions and spent the rest of his life praying and fasting.

Since his death 75 years ago, a cult has grown around the world with hostels and rehab centres named after him in Poland, Australia and Scotland. There are five Talbot centres in Glasgow alone. Fr Morgan Costelloe, the vice-postulator of his cause, is going to Krakow in Poland later this year to open a new hospital for recovering alcoholics which is dedicated to his name. More than 50,000 people have joined the Matt Talbot retreat movement in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Note: We appreciate Independent Catholic News (
for maintaining a link to our resource center (listed as Matt Talbot Resource Center).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prayer For Healing of Alcoholics and Addicts

by "Sparrowfallen"
Saturday, January 16, 2010

My seventh prayer intention of the year 2010 is one that is of deep personal meaning: I will pray in a special way for the healing of alcoholics and addicts, and those who love them and care for them.

The initial purpose of this blog was to testify to the miraculous grace of healing I have been given by Christ, in the form of a release from the "little Hell" of active alcoholism. I was painfully and sorrowfully confined within the prison of my own self-will, in the strong bonds of alcoholism: joyless, listless, and, in the end, hopeless. I carry some of the wounds with me to this day; perhaps I will as long as I live, but my faith and hope lead me to conclude that healing is always at work, albeit sometimes more slowly than I believe it should be.

The affliction of alcoholism left me with flagging will, tattered memory, and erratic intellect; the healing power of Christ has given me hope, faith, and charity. I have been given graces far beyond anything I deserve, but which I gladly and gratefully accept: loving friends, opportunities to use my talents for God's glory, a community of believers, strengthened relationships with family. All of these things I have seen happen not only for me, but for other people of all backgrounds who have come to know God and to accept the forgiveness offered through His Son.

The Carmelite priest Fr. Augustine-Marie of the Blessed Sacrament, (Hermann Cohen), once said in a sermon, "Do you believe, my brothers, that God converted us just for our own benefit? No, a thousand times no. It is for others as much as for ourselves, that they may avoid the reefs against which we have shipwrecked. Yes, He has nailed us as signposts before the gates of Hell to say, 'Don't go this way.'"

Though he was speaking in the terms of one who came into the Church from Judaism, Father Cohen's words resonate with me and are a motto of mine. I, too, have been nailed as a signpost before the gates of Hell, and it is my hope that through my prayers and my testimony that other suffering alcoholics and addicts might come to know the forgiveness and peace of friendship with Christ.

I offer my Saturday prayers for the healing and consolation of alcoholics and addicts, through the intercession of the Venerable Matt Talbot.

Note: We thank "Sparrowfallen" for permission to cross-post his prayer.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Life One Day at a Time

Matt Talbot did not make a New Year's resolution to stop drinking, but he did sign a three month pledge with a priest to not drink. During those first three months he frequently told his mother that he honestly didn't think he would make it, but with the grace of God and the help of others he did make it, one day at a time. In order to do so, he had to make major changes in his life, which centered on doing God's will. (JB)

Resolution: One Day at a Time

Sober Catholic Blogspot

December 31, 2009

As we begin a new year soon, we are often reminded of the popular cultural custom of making resolutions for the rest of the year. Always intended to be a means for self-improvement, they are ultimately self-defeating. We more often than not fail to maintain our resolve for a new and better self because we do not have the endurance or discipline necessary to think in terms of an entire year.

And so as we learn in our recovery program, mostly 12 Step ones, that we must take things "one day at a time." We can more easily comprehend the next 24 hours, or at least the stretch of hours until bedtime, than we can the next 365 days.

And therefore this is what we do. "Today I will not worry. I will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes." Jesus says in Scripture:

Matthew 6:34: "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."