Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reference to Matt Talbot and The Rosary

Psalter of Mary

“It used to be the practice of Pope Pius IX* to wander off by himself through the endless corridors of the Vatican Museum and Art Gallery. One day he came upon a group of tourists looking intently at some paintings by Murillo.
“Do you like them,” the pontiff asked. Everyone nodded, but no one spoke. “Well,” said Pio Nono, “How would you like for the Holy Father to show you the most valued of all the treasures here in the Vatican?”

To that question, they all shouted back a hearty “yes.” Then the pope slowly opened his palm to reveal a simple little black rosary, its beads worn from years of use. “There it is,” he said, “a treasure which means more to the Church than all the others combined.”

Those who look upon the Acts of the Apostles as the earliest history of the Church would surely regard the fifteen decades of Our Lady’s Rosary as the “second oldest” and most accurate record of God’s relationship with His People. 

Stamped with the seal of centuries, ladened with the richest of indulgences and recommended by all the spiritual writers, the Rosary resembles a portable chapel, wherein the  human family maintains unbroken contact with heaven – irrespective of time, place or condition.

So it is that in times of Sorrow, the distressed client of Mary counts off the beads much the same as Christ numbered the cobblestones along the way to Calvary. In times of Temptation, the besieged Christian recalls how the youthful David overcame the giant Goliath with a handmade sling and a fistful of rocks. In times of Stress, the troubled believer ponders the effects of the Rosary as it passed through the chemically-stained fingers of Louis Pasteur, the ink-darkened hands of Joyce Kilmer and the drink infested grasp of Matt Talbot.

The Rosary cuts across the whole gambit of salvation history. No other prayer in all of Christendom embraces a wider or more expressive array of God’s relation with His People.

The Joyful mysteries encompass the announcement of humankind’s salvation, the concern of Our Lady for her kinfolk, the coming of Christ to His People, the presentation of the Messias in the Temple and the appearance of the Christ-child before the Elders.

The Sorrowful mysteries recall the agony of Jesus in the Garden, the scourging of Our Lord at the pillar, the Savior’s crowning with thorns, the carrying of the burdensome Cross and the death of Christ for humankind’s salvation.

The Glorious mysteries relate the triumph of Our Lord over death, the return of the Savior to His Father, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the bodily-Assumption of Mary into heaven and her coronation as Queen.

What other devotion so graphically unfolds the drama of salvation within the framework of daily prayer? The Rosary, the culminated exclamation of belief and hope, is history and prophecy: it is history insofar as it tells what has been and it is prophecy because it foretells what will be.

The Rosary combines the story of the past, the challenge of the present and the promises of the future into a single montage of Christian life.

For every believer, the Rosary should never be further than a pocket’s length away. The Christian may go to bed hungry, cold or ill, but never before reciting the beautiful and relevant “Psalter of Mary.”    

*NOTE:  Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in 1792, reigned as Pope from 16 June 1846 to his death in 1878. He was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving for over 31 years.

Below is a photograph of Matt Talbot's rosary beads which he wore daily.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Recovery Meditation Guide

Love & Service:  A Meditation Guide for People in Recovery 
by Dave M.*
 Edited from the FORWARD:

"The purpose of this (128 page) work is to provide my fellows in recovery an effective means to deepen their relationship with a God of their understanding through prayer and meditation.

While facilitating retreats and workshops, folks have expressed to me their desire for more. They’ve been through the basics, found self-help information that garners more self-centeredness than
God-consciousness and suspect they’re ready to move on.

Love & Service provides access to God-consciousness in a spiritual rather than specifically religious format. It shares the wisdom of ages past with coaching and insight on the specifics of abandoning ones self to God. 
The inspiration for Love & Service came from Imitation of Christ (IOC) by Thomas A. Kempis. Love & Service continues IOC’s tradition of a candid and conversational style. This work is meant to be a liberation from worldly inclinations as well as a recollection as a preparation for prayer and the consolations of prayer.

References in this guide will appear periodically to Alcoholics Anonymous (“Big Book”) along with the page number."

*Note:  Dave describes himself as a happily married retired businessman, retreat facilitator, founder of, Benedictine Oblate, and trusted servant to those in AA and Al-Anon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Twelve Steps to Spiritual Freedom

Joanna Thyer, a hospital chaplain, medical educator and counselor in Australia, has authored Twelve Steps to Spiritual Freedom: Understanding the Christian Roots of Twelve Step Programs, Loyola Press (2014).

"This book integrates the emotional and spiritual journeys of the author's and others' personal stories, with the spiritual wisdom of the Twelve Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the inherent wisdom of the Christian mystical tradition, especially that of St Ignatius of Loyola. 

The insights shared will help those seeking spiritual development, whether they are in recovery programs or not; those dealing with life crises such as addiction or depression; and those with or without a faith.  Counselors, therapists, social workers, and family and friends who support their recovery efforts will also benefit from the contents of this book."

Following “My Story: In the Desert” and the Introduction, the author begins with the “Matt Talbot’s Story” in Chapter 1, titled “Moments of Truth,” which can be read at

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How Saints Found God’s Will

Regarding the book written by Julie Onderko, titled: Discover Your Next Mission from God: Saints who found God's will--and how you can too, Sophia Institute Press (2015), the publisher states in part the following:

“God created each person for a specific purpose and with a specific mission. How do I find out what that mission is?

Every saint in heaven once asked this question. Their path to discovering God’s will was often frustrating and tedious, but their reward for perseverance is eternity in heaven.

In this book the author uncovers the lives of countless saints to show how they searched for — and ultimately discovered — God’s will for their lives. By reflecting on the decisions, circumstances, and ever-guiding love of God in the saints’ lives, you’ll come to a greater knowledge of how to see and live the plan He has for your life...”

In Chapter 4 titled “Practice Humility, The Essential Ingredient,” Venerable Matt Talbot is the focus on pages 35-40, which can be read at

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Addiction: A Spiritual Problem That Needs a Spiritual Solution*

The source of this very thoughtful homily given at St. Aidan's Cathedral, Enniscorthy on 31st July 2016 is

Dear friends. I would like to share a few thoughts this week on addiction. I do so not only because it is topical and relevant to our society today but because it is found in the Gospel story this weekend of the man who wasn’t contented with his rich harvest but wanted an even greater return the following year – a year he would never see because of his premature death. Like many addictions, his was to ‘having more’. What he had was never enough.

Now when we talk about addictions, we might be tempted to think only of the big ones we hear about – addictions to alcohol, to smoking, drugs, gambling or pornography. If we do then we might be tempted to cod ourselves in thinking that addictions effect other people but not me. That I’m ok. The truth is that all of us are prone to any number of addictions at any time. Most of us are probably struggling with some addiction right now. It’s not a question of if we are, but more a question of ‘to what am I addicted?’ This is because the human spirit always seeks to attach itself to something greater than itself. And it is this attachment that will either destroy us or fill us with joy in this life and the next.

One man who came full circle on this journey of attachment and detachment was Matt Talbot. It is said that he was a hopeless alcoholic by the time he was 14. He was so addicted to drink that he would do anything and lose everything just to have another drink. He pawned his clothes and boots to get money for alcohol. On one occasion, he stole a fiddle from a street entertainer in Dublin and sold it to buy drink. His addiction to alcohol turned him into someone he hated to be. When he hit rock bottom, he turned to God in desperate prayer and pledged with his grace to detach himself from drink and to attach himself ever more faithfully to God. In his efforts to turn his life around, Matt Talbot was successful but credited everything to God and his mercy.

We can learn so much from his story. The most important thing to learn is how his addiction, like our addictions and every addiction, is a spiritual problem that needs a spiritual cure. Before his conversion, Matt Talbot tried to satisfy his need for God with alcohol before he realised that there is no chemical solution to a spiritual problem. We are prone to addictions when God is not in first place and what comes first instead in our lives are things that can never replace him. Matt Talbot’s detachment from drink corresponded to his attachment to God. To help him make this painful transition, we know he read the writings of St Frances de Sales who urges us not just to give up our addictions but to give up our love for them. So for Matt Talbot, it wasn’t just a question of giving up the drink. It was just as much about giving up his love for it. Since his death on 7th June 1925, Matt Talbot has been an inspiration and sign of hope to people like us who struggle with addictions. He was declared Venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1975 and how wonderful it would be if one day he is declared a saint. He once wrote: ‘Never be too hard on the person who can’t give up drink. 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.’
Today we pray for ourselves, that we may know our addictions and admit them. We pray that we become detached and free from whatever holds us back and kills our joy that comes from God. We pray that every day, we may attach our spirits in humble prayer to the God who made them and the God for whom they were made. We pray for all those whose lives are being destroyed by addiction here and beyond. In this year of Mercy, may this be the time when new hope is born and many souls turn back again to God.

Matt Talbot, pray for us. 

*NOTE: We created the title for posting purposes