Monday, March 18, 2013

Matt on his Knees

This image of Matt Talbot is most appropriate since he spent his non-work related time on his knees praying, be it at home, in church, or waiting for the church doors to open. (His pants had slits at the knees so they touched the kneeling surface.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Catholic Alcoholic Website

An informative blog that may be of interest is the Catholic Alcoholic at
Its creator has a devotion to Venerable Matt Talbot as well as other holy people and saints. Her entries include both historical and contemporary topics. She also provides an extensive list of possibly relevant websites.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Venerable Matt Talbot Memorial in Poland

These photos were taken at the Matt Talbot Memorial in Plock, Poland. The carved words in the background of the top photo quote Matt, "First of all, I have to take into account the interests of the soul.”

We appreciate the assistance of Grzegorz Jakielski regarding information about this memorial.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Venerable Matt Talbot on Facebook in English and Polish

While the Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center is not on Facebook, Venerable Matt Talbot is present on this social media platform.

The newest Facebook listing for Venerable Matt Talbot can be found at  Its originator also has a Facebook page about Mateusz Talbot in Polish at  and a website at

Least one be surprised about a Polish interest in Matt, Blessed Pope John Paul II as a boy wrote a paper about Matt Talbot and as pope wanted to beatify Matt during his pontificate since he thought that Matt’s example could be very valuable for those addicted to alcohol and drugs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Select Resources for Spiritual Growth and Recovery

We recently noted at that the new prayer book for those affected by addiction has been published. Please note that this 40 page book can now be viewed or downloaded free at Reference to Venerable Matt Talbot can be read at pages 30-31.

In the book, Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps, at Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O, a Trappist monk, reflects on the wisdom and legacy of the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step approach to recovery and its connections to, and similarities with, the Christian mystical traditions of centering prayer and Lectio Divina.

At “Living Sober Through the Psalms,” found at,) the author prays one at at a time through the Psalms and other recovery literature with added brief personal commentary, and concludes each day with wisdom from Church thinkers. This author also has an article,

Additional resources will be listed periodically.

A Reflection on Spiritual Recovery

[Mr. Rose previously wrote a column at and now writes at]

Spiritual Recovery
by Phil Fox Rose
June 8, 2009

If you are an alcoholic or addict, being spiritually unfit can be fatal. If not literally fatal then, as in my case, a living death — one definition of Hell is being alive and active in this world, feeling separated from God. And I spent years there. But today I live — and have for some time now — free, awake, fully alive, vital.

My earlier What Works column on alcoholism and addiction focused on self-diagnosis, and I could easily explain my own alcoholism by pointing to genetics and circumstances; but the root cause is spiritual — that God-shaped hole, that feeling of brokenness and alienation I was trying to assuage. I’ve met other alcoholics who had no obvious “causes” but I think we all share a spiritual longing.

Carl Jung wrote, to Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder Bill Wilson, that “craving for alcohol” is “the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness,” famously concluding the letter “spiritus contra spiritum” — the Spirit against alcohol.

As I said about not getting enough sleep, when you don’t feel connected to God, it’s easy to slip into irritability. A more accurate word is probably “sullenness.” And, if you’ll forgive a moment of word-nerdiness, “sullen” comes from the same root as “solo” and originally meant “alone.” How fitting, because that’s really what’s going on — you feel alone in the universe.

Recovery is not self-help

Let me be as clear as possible here: Recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction is not about self-help. The solution is not to gain knowledge and strength and willpower so you can beat it. As I’ve said before, it’s not even to admit you have a problem. Recovery is about recognizing that, alone, you are powerless to solve the problem. To receive the grace you need to recover, you must admit you need help from something greater than yourself.

So, to stay sober you stay connected to God and other people. As much as possible, that is. Because we all slip back into disconnectedness and the illusion of control. Addiction is a stark example of self-will, but all people struggle with self-will and attachment, with expectations and resentments. That’s why addiction is often used as a metaphor for the struggle of life.

Many people lead lives of quiet desperation, trying to fill the God-shaped hole and cover the pain with shopping, eating, and a million distractions. But addicts and alcoholics are physically predisposed to escape or numb themselves in ways that go directly into a downward spiral of self-destruction. My last few years before sobriety, life was little more than an isolated routine of coming to, muddling around in the apartment, watching TV, and mixing alcohol, Vicodin and Ambien to make things fuzzy until I passed out. Talk about sleepwalking through life.


Let go and let God

Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) He was quoting Hebrew Scripture, Deuteronomy 6:5. In even simpler terms, “Trust God.”

But, of course, we resist depending on God, don’t we? The serpent said to Eve: “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God”. (Genesis 3:5) Pride. We try, again and again, to play God; we try to manage the world, our own destiny, other people. The thing is, once you dedicate yourself to figuring out life without God, you find yourself smack dab in self-centered fear. Suddenly, managing the universe is your problem, and you know you’re not up to the task. My biggest trigger used to be trying to control what everyone thought of me. (I can still go there sometimes.)

Notice whenever life feels unmanageable. You’ll probably find it’s when you think you have to solve something on your own. How often we cause suffering by not accepting the way things are.


Spiritual tools

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today,” is the opening line of one of the most popular passages in recovery literature. What a challenge! To simply accept that things are the way they are. Could they be changed? Perhaps. Improved? It’s possible. But right in this moment, things are the way they are. To find acceptance of this is tremendous freedom and tremendous relief. This is why I am such a strong advocate of meditation. Meditation created the opening that began my journey toward greater authenticity. It continues to be a guide along the way, daily practice in detachment and acceptance.

The therapeutic and medical communities dissect the psychological and physiological aspects of addiction but often neglect or even deny the spiritual component. Self-help gurus say you can beat this addiction or that by learning their secrets. But the most helpful resource on the spiritual dimension of recovery remains A.A.’s foundational book, Alcoholics Anonymous (usually called the Big Book.) When it was written in the 1930s, A.A. was more single-minded in its view that recovery was a spiritual project. That approach is outlined in the book and still practiced by many in A.A.

Caveat addictus

  I want to make something absolutely clear before I close. A spiritual practice alone, without work specifically for addiction, is problematic. Worse, it’s all too easy for addicts and alcoholics to convince themselves they’re covered through meditation or church attendance. Not likely. After years of sobriety, as lay leader of my congregation, I started drinking wine at potlucks before Bible study! I’d forgotten I was an alcoholic and simply cannot drink safely — no matter how spiritual I may think I am.


Maintenance of your spiritual condition