Friday, August 31, 2018

An Intercessory Prayer to Venerable Matt Talbot

While holding a first class Venerable Matt Talbot relic,
Father John Paul, E.W.T.N., offers an intercessory prayer for all affected by addictions, especially to alcohol, drugs, pornography or any other affliction at

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot Gives Hope for Recovery From Addiction

The author of this article was instrumental in taking the “Matt Talbot Hope Book” to Matt Talbot’s Shrine in Dublin.
"From sot to saint: Matt Talbot gives hope for recovery from addiction"
By Gina Christian
Catholic News Service
August 27, 2018

A 19th-century Irish laborer and saint-in-the-making could be a new role model for those seeking freedom from addiction, according to a growing apostolate led by a Dublin priest.


At an Aug. 23 presentation during the World Meeting of Families, Father Brian Lawless described how Venerable Matt Talbot, once a hard-drinking warehouse hand, was transformed into a sober “urban mystic” through his Catholic faith.

More than 60 attendees listened as Father Lawless surveyed Talbot’s life as an obscure and impoverished worker in Dublin’s slums, which ranked among the worst in Europe at the time.

Talbot’s visibility grew Aug. 25 when Pope Francis made a special point of stopping at Our Lady of Lourdes Church to pray before some relics of Talbot.

Born in 1856, Talbot was the second-eldest of 10 children who survived out of 12. Largely uneducated, he began working at age 12 for a company that bottled Guinness beer. Talbot took to sampling the product, a common practice among the other child laborers. By age 16, he also started drinking whiskey, and he spent the next 12 years as an alcoholic.

“Every penny that he earned was used to buy alcohol,” said Father Lawless.

At age 28, Talbot had “a conversion experience,” something shared by many in addiction recovery who “come to a realization that something has to change,” Father Lawless said.

For Talbot, the breaking point came after a week of unemployment left him penniless and unable to buy a drink. Realizing that “his future looked as bleak as his past,” said Father Lawless, Talbot decided to “take the pledge” and commit to a three-month period of abstinence, a common practice encouraged by temperance movements of the day.

Yet Talbot quickly realized that sobriety was not a matter of having an iron will. Suffering from alcohol withdrawal a few days after abstaining, he went into a church and acknowledged in prayer that only God’s grace could sustain him.

“He emptied himself,” said Father Lawless, adding that addiction is an effort to fill “a hole in the soul” that can only be completed by God.

Talbot embraced the Catholic faith in which he had been raised, attending daily Mass and eventually finding a spiritual director. Barely literate, he learned to read and write so that he could explore the Scriptures, the lives of the saints and spiritual writings.

Having been introduced to Irish monasticism, Talbot adopted an austere lifestyle, remaining single while caring for his elderly mother and supporting numerous charities with any funds left over from his meager income. He spent hours in prayer and reflection, often seemingly in ecstasy.

Having read the works of St. Louis de Montfort, Talbot developed an intense devotion to Mary, even wearing chains around his wrist, hand and right knee.

In his talk, Father Lawless clarified that the fetters were not “a sign of penance, but of Talbot’s consecration to Our Lady,” and were in keeping with St. Louis’ recommendation to wear “little chains” as a sign of surrender to Mary.

Actual chains worn by Talbot, along with several relics, were displayed at an exhibit staffed by volunteers from his apostolate during the pastoral congress of the World Meeting of Families.

Although he spent his life in gritty, working-class conditions, Talbot cultivated a spirituality often associated with hermits or other contemplatives.

“He was able to have those same kind of experiences in his little flat,” said Father Lawless.

A secular Franciscan, Talbot died in 1925 while on the way to Mass, closing his eyes just as the church bells rang.

His cause for canonization began almost immediately. Pope Paul VI declared Talbot venerable in 1975, and Pope John Paul II expressed support for Talbot’s canonization, although he was unable to stop at the would-be saint’s shrine in Our Lady of Lourdes Church during a 1979 visit to Ireland.

Any miracles in support of Talbot’s canonization would have to be “medical in nature,” said Father Lawless, since recovery from addiction often involves relapses that would disqualify such healings from consideration.

Nevertheless, Talbot remains a powerful intercessor for those longing for liberation from alcohol and drugs.

Michael Murphy, an addictions counselor from Drogheda, Ireland, and an advocate for Talbot’s canonization, followed Father Lawless’ presentation with a talk on how the humble laborer had profoundly shaped Murphy’s own journey to sobriety.

A successful executive for a multinational company, Murphy entered an alcohol treatment program in 1996 after a three-day blackout. Married and with children, he had at one point contemplated suicide after a long battle with the bottle.

“I even had a loaded gun ready,” he said.

Before Murphy entered rehab, his wife Noeleen had given him a copy of St. Faustina’s diary with a Matt Talbot prayer card tucked inside. After buried memories of his father’s sudden death surfaced during treatment, he angrily threw his travel bag across the room, causing the prayer card to fall before him.

“I looked at it, and I said to Matt Talbot, ‘If you’re as good as you’re supposed to be, keep me here in this program,'” Murphy said.

Murphy stayed, and after completing treatment he began rebuilding his life, looking to Talbot as a model of “hope, light and forgiveness.”

“He taught me to pray, how to go to eucharistic adoration,” Murphy said.

Both Father Lawless and Murphy noted that Talbot’s spiritual approach to sobriety prefigured the 12-step approach to recovery later formulated by Alcoholics Anonymous.

“He was preaching the 12 steps 50 years before AA,” said Murphy.

Like her husband, Noeleen Murphy is fervent in her devotion to Matt Talbot, even writing and recording “In Your Presence, Lord,” a hymn in Talbot’s honor.

“Anybody who asks will receive from Matt Talbot,” she said. “He walked the walk; he was in addiction himself. He knows the pain and suffering. And he lived in Christ’s presence.”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Dublin Interview About Pope Francis’ Visit and Venerable Matt Talbot

DUBLIN INTERVIEW: From Alcoholic to Future Canonized Saint
25.08.2018 ZENIT

Dublin’s Sean McDermott Street is the address where one finds the Parish of our Lady of Lourdes. It is not a popular district for tourists, so here there are no bars recommended by guidebooks where one goes to drink a Guinness, or a precious local whiskey. But for those who have the habit of raising their elbow a little too much, perhaps it would be a good idea to come here.

Even the Venerable Matt Talbot, buried here, was an alcoholic. Now there is a process of beatification going on for him, and soon, who knows? He very well may be proclaimed “saint.” 

Nevertheless he may already be considered a patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He was born in Dublin in 1856, second of twelve children. Alcoholism then was a scourge in Ireland among poor families like the Talbot's. And working as early as 12 years before bottling beer, then downloading whiskey in the port, certainly did not help him. At 27, impoverished and brutalized by vice, he vowed not to drink for three months. Since then he no longer touched on alcohol for the rest of his life, dedicated to prayer, to charity, in the third Franciscan order, and to social commitment as the founder of the Christian Workers’ Movement.
In 1972 his remains were removed from a tomb in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Sean McDermott Street, Dublin, in the area where Matt spent his life. In 3 October 1975 Pope Paul VI declared him “venerable”, with a decree on his “heroic virtues”. Now the news is that Pope Francis, arriving in Dublin on Saturday 25 August, will stop here to venerate at least the chain found under the clothes of Talbot when he suddenly died of a heart attack, at 69, on his way to Mass on Trinity Sunday, 7 June 1925. The chain was a sign of devotion and penance.

While the Pope’s pause was to be brief and only outside the Church, organizers warned, the Pope decided to quickly enter and pray before the relics anyway. Pope John Paul II was supposed to stop over during his 1979 visit, but he ran out of time. Here is our conversation with Salesian Parish Priest, Father Michael Casey:
How well known is the place where we find ourselves now, the Shrine of Matt Talbot?

It is really well-known in the [United] States, England, and in some parts of Australia. Saint John Paul II had great devotion to the venerable Matt Talbot, and he wrote a little booklet on the life of Matt Talbot and he had great hopes that he would be able to canonize him.

Also Pope Paul VI, when he was a cardinal, he came to Dublin and he visited the grave of Matt Talbot. He was actually the Pope who made him venerable.

At that time, alcohol was the drug of “choice” of Matt. And that has been part of our history. Some have taken to alcohol to deal with life’s challenges and deal with life’s pain. It still is a challenge for us, our Irish society, but unfortunately there is not only alcohol; there are many other drugs on the market at the choice of many people.

So addiction is certainly a symptom of a deeper yearning and hunger, not only for spirits. And that is why the life of Matt Talbot gives us a lot of encouragement and hope tor people. His life teaches us that when we have a hunger and a thirst, we need to understand what we are really searching for, what can satisfy it.  And that is not alcohol or drugs. And Matt’s thirst was for the Living God.

Is faith enough to overcome addictions like alcoholism?

I think in fairness to Irish society and the government, I think they are trying to implement different laws to curb excesses of alcohol and help to have a different attitude towards it. We often say that we don’t see people drunk or overly intoxicated in other European countries, whereas here in Ireland we tend to binge drink, that has destructive effects on families and relationships.

So it is a problem, an issue that we are very aware that in Irish society. But it is a challenge, an open battle, an education, targeting young people, to help them to make more positive choices.

What do you do to promote the knowledge and the devotion to the Venerable Matt Talbot? Are there any special activities?

Our team here, we are the custodian of this church where his relics are. We are here mainly here  mainly to welcome people, pilgrimages, give talks, promote through the web site, and so on.
One of the priest, Father Brian Lawless, is the Vice-Postulator. He, at a national level and the international level, is trying to promote the cause in different ways.

What is the significance of Pope Francis’ visiting here?

A visit here wasn’t part of the original plan, but I think the Archbishop of Dublin Martin, and Pope Francis himself feel very much at home in this community, for it is one that has had its struggles, its own challenges, and has people of great faith. So I think they feel very much at home here. I think it has been a very symbolic gesture of him putting his feet on this sacred soil that is our home. It is something very special for us. We feel blessed by his presence and encouraged.

According to the program, the Pope was supposed to remain outside the Church, but given that Francis usually does not follow programs, were you happy that he came in to pray before the relics?

We know, Pope Francis often surprises people. It was wonderful he decided to enter! Aware his time was very very tight, we were planning to bring the relics of Matt Talbot to him, to show him. They are very special relics: one is the chain that Matt Talbot used as part of a devotion to Mary. It became important because when he died and when he went to the hospital, the nurses saw the chain and they wondered who this man was. The other was the lovely cross which Matt used in his room. His room for him was a kind of monastic cell. Therefore, we were glad Pope Francis saw these, and that he found the wings to come and pray here!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pope Francis Venerates Venerable Matt Talbot's Crucifix Today

On the way to the Pro-cathedral in Dublin, Pope Francis  stopped and venerated relics of the Venerable Matt Talbot in front of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Sean McDermott Street 1 in Dublin today.

A four minute video is available at
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Pope Francis Venerating Crucifix that belonged to Venerable Matt Talbot. (25th August 2018)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Venerable Matt Talbot Exhibit at the World Meeting of Families 2018

These photographs and texts were provided by Michael Murphy.  He and his wife, Noeleen are very active in promoting Venerable Matt Talbot in Ireland.

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An exhibition stand (No. 136) was made in the exhibition hall showing the life of the Venerable Matt Talbot.
A reliquary with relics of Venerable Matt Talbot was exhibited.
Also things belonging to Venerable Matt were presented on the stand."

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 "Looking forward to a great Day at the Matt Talbot stand 136 — with Noeleen Murphy at World Meeting of Families Meeting, Dublin."

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"Gina Christian (right) from Catholic, Philadelphia, visiting our stand with the "Matt Talbot Hope Book" which is to be presented at the Shrine of Matt Talbot; it consists of names of people struggling with addiction throughout the US and Europe."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pope Francis Will Venerate a Matt Talbot Relic During Visit to Dublin

In a briefing to journalists ahead of the papal trip to Dublin Aug. 25-26, spokesman Greg Burke, who is the director of the Holy See Press Office, stated: “Along the road to St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, the Pope will stop to venerate a relic of Venerable Matt Talbot, a simple Irish laborer who died in Dublin in 1925.” 

Details at

This stop will greatly enhance world-wide awareness of Venerable Matt Talbot.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Presentation About Matt Talbot at the 2018 World Meeting of Families

On the evening of 23 August 2018 at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Fr. Brian Lawless, Vice-Postulator for the Cause for Canonization of Venerable Matt Talbot, will give the third evening presentation noted below (

"The Journey from Addiction: What Families can Learn from the Life of Venerable Matt Talbot"

Presenter: Fr. Brian Lawless

Pope Francis recognizes the difficulties encountered by families with members suffering from drug addiction. The Holy Father calls it “one of the scourges of our time, causing immense suffering and even breakup for many families. The same is true of alcoholism, gambling and other addictions.

This presentation discusses the challenges facing families that have been confronted by drug addiction and turns to the life of the Venerable Matt Talbot to see if there is anything that they can learn from his journey.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Pope Francis to visit the Dublin street where John Paul failed to stop"

Pope Francis is to visit Seán McDermott Street in Dublin’s city centre briefly on Saturday, August 25th, 2018.

During his 1979 visit to Ireland, Pope John Paul II had planned to stop on the street to visit Matt Talbot’s tomb in Our Lady of Lourdes church. However, the Popemobile was running behind schedule and drove on, much to the disappointment of many local people. Some said afterwards joyriders did not go down Seán McDermott Street as fast.
  Crowds outside Our Lady of Lourdes, Seán McDermott Street in 1979 waiting for Pope John Paul II. Photograph: Dublin City Council photographic collection 
Crowds outside Our Lady of Lourdes, Seán McDermott Street in 1979 waiting for Pope John Paul II. 
“The story still persists, of course, of how people were waiting for Pope John Paul to stop,” said Fr Hugh O’Donnell at the church on Sunday. “The significance of a stop, no matter how brief, is very important. In some ways it’s a corrective, almost. The expectation was there in ’79, that he would stop,” he said.
Fr O’Donnell said Pope Francis’s visit, which would follow his meeting at Dublin Castle with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other members of the Government, was not an official stop. “He won’t be saying anything. He won’t even come into the church. So, I would say it’s more a symbolic gesture, a very reassuring gesture for the people of the area.

“Also we have the tomb of Matt Talbot here who is a real symbol of, an exemplar of, someone who dealt with addiction in a particular way. He’s well known all over the world, even more so I think than locally.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

References to Venerable Matt Talbot in "Aquinas on Virtue"

In Chapter 11 titled Rethinking Infusion  (,-82,18) from his book, Aquinas on Virtue, Georgetown University Press (2017), Nicholas Austin makes the following statements regarding Matt Talbot:

At the top of page 5 of this pdf, is this quote:
"Michael S. Sherwin helpfully illustrates the idea with the case of Matthew Talbot, an Irish laborer and alcoholic who underwent a conversion, gave up drink, and dedicated his life to prayer and service of the poor. While he “radically reoriented his life towards God,” it remained true that “he still retained,
especially in the beginning, a strong desire (and inclination) to continue drinking and to return to his former way of life.” In Aquinas’s viewpoint, Sherwin suggests, Talbot has the infused virtue of temperance but finds it difficult to act temperately.

At the top of page 6, “In the case of Matt Talbot, Sherwin suggests, “At the moment of his conversion, the infused virtues empowered him to live soberly, even as he continued to feel a burning desire to drink.”

At the bottom of page 6, the author states: “In the case of Matt Talbot, it is more plausible to say not that he possesses infused temperance yet still experiences the inclination to sin but rather that he possesses continence or self-control.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Image of Matt Talbot and the Blessed Mother

Perhaps the most active promoter for the beatification of Venerable Matt Talbot online is Gregory Jakielski in Poland, who we have noted repeatedly in our posts. 
Earlier today he posted the following at his

“Last year I wrote to the Camaldolese Nuns from Złoczewo (Poland). I knew that they are preparing paintings and writing icons. I wanted to interest them about the life of Venerable Matt Talbot. In secret I counted on help in preparing the image of Venerable Matt that I could use to prepare Praying Cards with a prayer for the beatification of Matt Talbot.

The Sisters were very willing to help, but due to the large amount of duties I had to be patient.

The fruit of my correspondence is a beautiful painting painted by Sister Józefina OSB Cam, who reached me last week, after a small adventure of "disappearance" at the Post Office.

For me personally, this is the whole story of the life of Venerable Matt Talbot in one picture.”

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Saturday, August 4, 2018