Friday, April 28, 2017

"Some Definite Service"

One of the many authors that Matt Talbot read in his ongoing conversion was John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890). The following meditation (which has been referred to with various titles) continues to speak to us today.

 Meditations and Devotions,
"Meditations on Christian Doctrine,"
"Hope in God—Creator” 301
March 7, 1848

Some Definite Service
Blessed John Henry Newman

God knows me and calls me by my name.…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
     which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
     but I shall be told it in the next.

 Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
     I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
     between persons.

 He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
     I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
     in my own place, while not intending it,
     if I do but keep His commandments
     and serve Him in my calling.

 Therefore I will trust Him.
     Whatever, wherever I am,
     I can never be thrown away.

If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
     necessary causes of some great end,
     which is quite beyond us.

 He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
     He may shorten it;
     He knows what He is about.
     He may take away my friends,
     He may throw me among strangers,
     He may make me feel desolate,
     make my spirits sink, hide the future from me
     still He knows what He is about.…

Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see
     I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Visiting Matt Talbot’s Shrine in Dublin

The following is one visitor’s reaction to visiting Matt Talbot’s Shrine in  March 2016.
Matt Talbot Shrine -- an inner city surprise
Reviewed June 13, 2016
“Matt Talbot had a drinking problem in whiskey-loving Dublin, and so did his brothers. His life was going nowhere. He still lived with his mother. Nobody really knew him, except for the latter part of his life, when he seemed to stay clear of the drink, and tried to get others to do the same. But when he dropped dead on a Dublin street in 1925, and his body was found to have chains and cords wrapped tightly around his waist and arms, the entire city took notice.

Get the rest of the story from the internet. But if you know of someone with a drinking problem, and you know the power of prayer, stop into this church, visit the glass-covered tomb of this saint-in-process, and light a candle.

Make sure you realize that this shrine is actually the left-hand chapel inside of Our Lady of Lourdes church. The right-hand side is another grotto-style depiction of our Lady of Lourdes (now THERE is another great place to visit, in Lourdes, France!) There is some history written on the walls (eg. explaining the story of a certain rather small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). I just found that sitting down to spend some quiet time after the bustle of Dublin's O'Connell street was great!

On my particular visit, I happened to stumble upon a 3:00 p.m. recitation (to video and music) of the Divine Mercy chaplet, which it appears is said daily, in addition to regular church services.”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pioneer Association Launches New Appeal for Public Funding

The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (PTAA) was founded by Fr. James Cullen S.J. in the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin, on 28 December 1898. Venerable Matt Talbot and now Blessed John Sullivan SJ were early members.

Fr. Cullen (1841-1921) was always concerned with social issues, and his motivation in setting up the Pioneers was to address the enormous damage that he saw excess alcohol was doing in the Ireland of his times. Many workers were heavy drinkers, and alcohol was the greatest drain on the weekly earnings of the family. The Pioneers continues to help to build a society where people live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation avoiding the ills that arise in society from excess in its use.

The Jesuits have supported the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (PTAA) and have kept it going throughout much of its 120-year history. From January 2018 onwards, the Jesuit involvement will cease and the PTAA will now operate as a Private Lay Association of the Faithful. The PTAA, as a registered charity,  will strive to carry on the good work of the Association throughout the world with the aid of donations from a generous public. 

For more information about the Pioneers and this appeal, see


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Beatification of Fr John Sullivan SJ, 13 May 2017, in Dublin

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Matt Talbot Memorial Bridge Statue Space Enhanced

The Matt Talbot Dublin Diocesan Committee at posted the following message and very brief video on 29 March 2017:
“Recently the Matt Talbot Memorial Bridge had to undergo some necessary engineering works, during which time Matt's statute was put in storage. The Dublin Matt Talbot Committee who gifted the statue of Matt to the citizens of Dublin are delighted that the statute is once again back in it's place and looking fantastic with a new granite surround and pavement.
Our thanks and appreciation to the City Manager and Dublin City Council.”

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Venerable Matt Talbot: An Extravagant Lover of God

“Clinging to Onions:  Venerable Matthew Talbot (1856-1925)”
by Rick Becker 
January 28, 2017

True lovers love extravagantly, and Matthew Talbot was an extravagant lover of God. This Franciscan tertiary's penitential practices might come across as excessively severe today, but they were in fact unabashed outpourings of a soul totally abandoned to the Lord.

Talbot was born in Dublin, Ireland, the second of 12 children in a poor working-class family. With only a single year of formal schooling from the Christian Brothers, the 12-year-old Matthew started working to augment his father's meager wages and help support the family. His first job was running messages for a wine merchant, and Matt Proved himself to be a hardy and dependable employee.

Through the influence of his mother, Talbot was initially inclined to moral living, but the bad example of his fellow workers took its toll on the impressionable youth. Talbot's work afforded him easy access to alcohol, and his introduction to strong drink quickly developed into a full-blown addiction. He always managed to keep down a laboring job of one kind or another, but Matt's drinking inevitably disrupted his personal affairs. His wages were increasingly devoted to purchasing liquor instead of helping his family; he once sold his own shoes for another drink.

By the time Matt was 28, his derelict condition had progressed to the point that even his drinking buddies avoided him. Desperate, ashamed, and abandoned, he approached a priest one night for confession and followed it up by taking a three-month pledge of abstinence. Talbot doubted his ability to stay sober for any length of time, but he prayed hard, took one day at a time, and did indeed stay dry. He subsequently pledged to forego alcohol permanently, redirecting his focus toward personal mortification and the interior life.

Talbot took to sleeping no more than four hours a night, and that on a bed of planks with a pine wood block for a pillow. He arose every morning for several hours of prayer on his knees before attending Mass at 6:00 a.m. Then he was off to the lumberyard, where he worked a 10-hour day as he had before his conversion, but now silently communing with his Savior as he labored, and taking every opportunity to exhort his co-workers to sanctity.

Matt fasted often, but even when he didn't, he routinely skipped lunch, spending that time on his knees, and eating only a very light supper after work. He spent his evenings in prayer, or attending a variety of pious gathering, before retiring to bed by 11:00 p.m.

The list of his regular devotional practices is extensive, including 15 decades of the Rosary and the Way of the Cross daily, novenas prior to every feast, substantial spiritual reading, and a variety of popular devotions. On Sundays he would remain in his parish church most of the day to attend every mass. Talbot's was a life wholly given over to the things of God, and he took the greatest joy in lavishing himself on his Creator.

Upon the recommendation of his confessor, Talbot joined the Third Order of St. Francis to add structure to his devotional life and further reinforce his sobriety. It was an ideal match, for Matt had already adopted a Franciscan way of life as if by intuition. Like the Poor Man of Assisi, Talbot embraced poverty and got by on only a fraction of his already meager income. He donated the rest to charity and the missions, and often supplemented the take-home pay of fellow workers who headed large families.

Matt also mirrored St. Francis in sharing Christ's physical agonies. But whereas Francis bore that suffering literally in the stigmata, Talbot took it on by means of heavy chains wound around his body – a mortification that was hidden his whole life and only revealed as nurses prepared his body for burial.

The glow of sanctity attracted many to the simple Talbot, and he gained a reputation as a powerful intercessor, despite his efforts to remain hidden in his life of devotion. So it was that he was sorely missed by many when his penitential lifestyle so strained his health that he had to be hospitalized for lengthy stays on two different occasions. In the end his ill health caught up with him, and he died outside his parish church on the way to a second Mass on Trinity Sunday, 1925. Pope Pius XII introduced Talbot's cause in 1947, and a decree on his virtues was issued in 1975.