A Resurrection Story of Today
Alcohol is the world's most popular drug.
It can relax and it can stimulate. In a higher
dose it is definitely a downer. It has wrecked
many a life.
Is there any hope out? Yes there is.
last September I came across a church
Lady of Lourdes - in a very poor and
part of Dublin. Inside I was surprised
see a glass panel through which a coffin
could be seen. 'Here lies the remains
Matt Talbot 1856-1925', the inscription
Who is Matt Talbot? He is an alcoholic
who today is on the road to be canonized.
His story sings of resurrection.
Born the second eldest of twelve children
to a poor family, he found himself
alcohol when he was only twelve years
His father was a known alcoholic. He
as a messenger boy and then in a bricklayer's
The drinking got worse and worse. When
he became very hot-tempered, got into
and swore foully. He became so desperate
for more drinks that he would buy drinks
on credit, sell possessions - once
his own boots - or simply steal.
On one occasion, a fiddler joined them
the fun. When the money was running
Matt took the fiddle and pawned it.
returned with the money and bought
It wasn't until the party broke up
fiddler realized that his means of
was gone. Matt never forgave himself
being so insensitive.
But God is never far away. He came
and gave Matt a helping hand. One day,
broke, - he was 28 years old - he loitered
around hoping that his friends would
him for a drink. Strangely, they completely
ignored him. Matt said later that he
'cut to the heart' by this treatment.
went home and solemnly announced to
that alcohol is a past thing. "I'm
to take the pledge", he told his
The pledge is a promise favored by
temperance societies to totally abstain
the use of alcohol.
His mother was skeptical. But she gave
some wise advice. She told him, "Go,
in God's name, but don't take it unless
are going to keep it." And as
going out of the house, she continued,
God give you strength to keep it."
can make the impossible possible.
The grace of God slowly changed this
Matt was a new man. "Three things
cannot escape: the eye of God, the
of conscience, the stroke of death.
guard your tongue. In your family,
your temper. When alone guard your
he said later.
After successfully fulfilling his pledge
for three months, he made a life long
"It is consistency that God seeks",
Matt Talbot said. He became a good
and amicable man. Slowly he paid all
He started attending Mass every morning
5am! In the evening after work he would
to another Church and spend his time
This was his way of defending himself
meeting his former drinking companions.
the truth of the matter was, he still
a tremendous yearning to go and start
again. It was a horrendous struggle.
do not die easily. He later joined
Order of St. Francis.
"Never look down on a man, who
give up the drink", he told his
"it is easier to get out of hell!"
He transformed his incessant craving
drink into a drive for closer union
God - a one-day-at-a-time approach
lasted forty years. In order to help
he even started mortifying himself
He fashioned his life on the Irish
monks, who believed that prayer, fasting
and almsgiving would bring them closer
God. He slept in chains which he wore
14 years before his death, round his
and on his body.
Mortification is not senseless punishing
of the body. It is the continual process
of putting to death whatever belongs
earthly nature. The positive aspect
is that it makes room for the graces
peace, and Christ-likeness to grow
heart. It gives the opportunity for
Matt was on his way to Mass on Trinity
1925, when he collapsed and died. A
in the newspaper Irish Independent
following day stated, "An elderly
collapsed in Granby Lane yesterday
being taken to Jervis Street Hospital,
found to be dead. He was wearing a
suit, but there was nothing to indicate
His story should have ended there.
were only a handful of people for his
He was buried in a pauper's grave.
God decided otherwise. Matt Talbot
became an icon for those struggling
The Resurrection 2006 makes the impossible
possible! What a blessed day this is!
Lord went down to Hades and He destroyed
the hold that death had over us. Now
make us able to live as though completely
alive, completely pure, completely
complete in all things, lacking nothing!
Matt Talbot is a living witness.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright