Sunday, November 17, 2013

A matter of identity

[Matt Talbot would certainly have answered these questions differently in his drinking days and later after his conversion and alcoholism recovery.]


Who Are You? What Is Your Purpose?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We humans, in many ways, have lost our identity. While individuals might have answers to the big questions of life, that isn't the case with us as a community of persons. Our culture no longer has the answers to these questions:
  • Who am I?
  • What is the purpose to life?
  • Who is God?
  • Why was I created?
These questions and the corresponding answers directly affect what we believe, how we view life, and how we live. The root of the issue is this - without an identity in Christ, we cannot see ourselves, others or the world in the proper context. We mistake a lie for the truth.

What is the truth about you and I?
It is that each of us are created in the image and likeness of God. Big deal, you might think. But, it is. It is our identity. We are adopted into the family of God (the Trinity) and made partakers of the divine nature. This means we are caught up into the love of God, by our willing participation in God's divine life. Notice this work is always an act of God, but it requires our consent - through faith. God will never force us to participate in following Him.
If we do choose Him, a new-found identity in Christ means we can no longer look at ourselves or others in the same way. This is why the John Paul the Great quoted the following verse more than any other from Vatican II:
"Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear." -(Gaudium et Spes 22)
If we want to know who we are, who others are, and the answers to the other questions that have been planted deep within us, then we need to understand who Jesus is and who we are in light of Christ. When God became man in the Incarnation, He didn't lower His own divine nature, which is impossible - because God is unchangeable, rather He raise up our human nature higher. The document goes on to say our nature...
"has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man."
This is our "supreme calling" - to find who we are in Christ. To live fully in the Fathers' love, truth and grace. This is what we were made for.

This is the truth about the mystery of humanity. We were made to live this way, and called to find this truth. When we do so, we discover what real human "dignity" means. Which is why the document continues with:
"The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light." 
When we do not live in this truth we bring suffering upon ourselves and others...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Venerable Matt Talbot included in SAINTS ALIVE!

Saints Alive! the Gospel Witnessed, authored by Sr. Marie Paul Curley and Sr. Mary Lea Hill, has just been published by Pauline Books & Media. This collection of stories features 31 saints from different eras, continents, and walks of life. Each brief story highlights a particular aspect of or challenge in the saint's life and connects it to a Gospel verse. Themes include: conversion, discipleship, bearing witness, ministering to Christ, love, suffering, union with God, living the Word, and faith.
The companion book, Saints Alive! The Faith Proclaimed, featuring different saints and themes is described at!
Also note that online resources on the saints from Saints Alive! is available at

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Feast of All Saints of Ireland

Today, the 6th of November, the Feast of All Saints of Ireland is celebrated in Ireland. This feast includes canonised saints as well as those who had a reputation for holiness and whose causes for canonisation have not yet been completed, such as Venerable Matt Talbot. 

For more information about this feast see the post of Sr. Mary-Louise PDDM at and expanded at

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Short-Term Pledge for November

[Matt Talbot became one of the first members of The Total Abstinence League of the Sacred Heart in 1890,  which was renamed the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in 1898.]

“The Pioneers have launched a campaign encouraging people to give up drink for the month of November.

“By a long-standing Irish custom, many people choose to abstain from alcohol for the month of November and offer this act as a sacrifice for the eternal salvation of their deceased loved ones, and for the Souls in Purgatory. You can do likewise,” a spokesperson for the group said.

In recent times the Pioneers have seen increased interest in short term pledges – sometimes for Lent but also for Advent and in November.

Padraig Brady, Pioneer Association CEO, said many who enjoy alcohol in moderation also like to periodically quit. “Some people take the pledge to detox from alcohol and also to create more space to think about their drinking habits, he explained.

Others who take the short term pledge offer up their own commitment to try and help somebody close to them who may be struggling with an alcohol or drug abuse problem...” (More at

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls Day Homily

 Fr. Martin Fox
Today, All Souls’ Day,
is a day of remembrance,
but also a day full of hope.

This time of year,
the Church bids us consider eternity.

Yesterday was the great feast of All Saints.
The saints give us hope—
We long to join their company;
And it is God’s will that we do so.

There are only two final destinations,
after this life:
Either we go to heaven—
and then we will be a saint—
Or we go to the other place.

What about purgatory?
Purgatory is not a destination—
No one spends eternity in purgatory.

It isn’t really a “place” at all,
but a process:
It’s a stopping point on the way.
Purgatory is the “mud room” of heaven;
It’s the saints’ finishing school.

Some tell me they’re a little afraid of purgatory—
They think of it in terms of punishment.

Our late, beloved holy father, John Paul,
taught us otherwise.
He said, before entering
the perfect glory of heaven,
“Every trace of attachment to evil
must be eliminated,
every imperfection of the soul corrected.

“Those who, after death,
exist in a state of purification,
are already in the love of Christ
who removes from them
the remnants of imperfection.”

They “are united both with the blessed
who already enjoy the fullness of eternal life,
and with us on this earth
on our way towards the Father's house.”

Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Nothing to be afraid of.

We might wonder, is there pain in purgatory?
C.S. Lewis said this:
If there’s pain in purgatory,
it’s the pain of having Christ so near—
ah, but still something holds us back.

Because it’s the pain of healing,
Lewis said, it’s pain we’ll welcome.

The healing isn’t just about
those who have died;
It helps heal us, the living, as well.
Sometimes people die,
and maybe we have
unfinished business with them.

Or maybe we wonder—
what will become of them
in their moment of judgment?

We might fear for them.
But thanks be to God,
our ability to help them
doesn’t end at their death!

Now, I’m going to say something
a little mind-bending.
Think about this:

You and I live in time:
one day follows another,
Past to present to future—right?

But God doesn’t live in time—
Time in no way limits God.

So, I have a cousin,
who died at his own hand.
What did he believe or understand,
at that moment?
I don’t know.

But when I pray for him now,
That prayer can help him,
not just after he died,
But anywhere along the course of his life!

No, I can’t “go back in time”—but God can!

So all those people
you’ve ever worried about:
Pray for them now—
And who knows just where
along the course of their lives,
God may choose to apply your prayers?

When we remember the dead this time of year,
we remember that our existence, on earth,
is but one slice of reality.

Naturally, we think it’s the most important,
Or the most real, slice of life.

But it’s not.
We’re on our way to the most important,
most real, dimension of life:
Life after this life—
Not only life-after-death,
but life-after-resurrection!

There’s so much more still ahead!

And this is why Christ came,
Christ died, and rose for us:
To open the path and lead us there.

The prophet Daniel foresaw it;
St. Paul rejoices because the Holy Spirit,
poured into our hearts,
makes us long—thirst—pant!—
for this destiny!

In the Eucharist,
we get just a taste of this reality!

Christ leads us there—
there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dare to be more

Although Venerable Matt Talbot has not been officially declared a saint yet by the Church, his desire and actions to turn his life around after descending to a virtual hell on earth of alcoholism is a testament to the power of God’s love, grace and mercy in all our lives. 
While Matt is not mentioned as an example in this homily for All Saints Day (, he certainly was one who “dared to be more.”  Do each of us?

For one introductory source about this special day, see