A neighboring priest, rather well known in an adjoining diocese, recently made me aware of Venerable Matt Talbot. Talbot was born the second of twelve children of Charles and Elizabeth Talbot in Dublin, Ireland on May 2, 1856. His father was a drinker, and Matt began drinking at age 12 and quickly became an alcoholic. In 1884, in dire straits, he went to Holy Cross College and pledged to not drink for three months. After the three months, he resolved to not drink for six months, and then later for life. He died in 1925 of a heart attack on the way to Mass.
For the next forty years he remained sober. He attended daily Mass, repaid all his debts and was very keen in his sense of justice to others. He gave his time and energy to others. He fasted rigorously, rose each day at 5 AM to attend Mass and spent hours each morning on his knees in prayer.
It is said that Matt Talbot is the “saint in overalls.” He would kneel outside the doors of the church and once inside, would prostrate himself before the Eucharist before entering the pew. Every Sunday he would spend seven hours in church without moving, kneeling the whole time. He did this every Sunday for forty years.
There is a prayer that one can say for a friend or family member who is afflicted by alcoholism or another form of chemical dependency. Make a novena out of it, i.e., say it for nine days.
God of mercy, we bless You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who ministered to all who came to Him.
Give Your strength to ____, Your servant, bound by the chains of addiction.
Enfold him/her in Your love and restore him/her to the freedom of God’s children.
Lord, look with compassion on all those who have lost their health and freedom.
Restore to them the assurance of Your unfailing mercy, and strengthen them in the work of recovery.
To those who care for them, grant patient understanding and a love that perseveres.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you Venerable Matt Talbot!