An Icon For These Addictive Times

In recent months not a day passes without addiction to drugs, drink, or gambling being the source of some tragic headline or news event. The deceased Celtic Tiger is busy dumping its evil poisoned fruits.

Perhaps now is the time for all prayerful Catholics to support the recent initiative of the Archbishop of Dublin to re-invigorate the cause of a holy Dublin labourer, Matt Talbot, for the highest honour the Church can bestow — that of sainthood. Of course I must add that the desire is the easy bit and the work necessary to be undertaken to claim the honour is very difficult.

Matt Talbot undertook this work with great zeal so let us give him the reward he so richly deserves by praying to him for ‘Miracles on Tap’, by ensuring that his official canonisation prayer cards reach every church and every addiction agency or centre in the four corners of the world. I myself intend to do my little bit of work by becoming more active in my branch of the Knights of Saint Columbanus, which bears the name ‘Venerable Matt Talbot Council’. Led by our Grand Knight, Brother Gerry Nangle and our representative on the Dublin Diocesan Committee Brother Michael Wall. Our major project is now to assist and promote in whatever way we can the cause of Matt Talbot’s canonisation.

I will not dwell too much on the details of Matt’s heroic life, as the majority of our readers will already know them. Matt died of a heart attack in Granby Lane on Trinity Sunday, 7 June 1925, whilst making his way to Mass in St.Saviour’s Church on Dominick Street. He was buried the following Thursday on the feast of Corpus Christi, in Glasnevin Cemetery.

His hidden life of exemplary holiness became apparent to those who found him and cared for him and arranged his funeral and burial. Many years later, in 1952, Matt’s remains were exhumed and placed in a double coffin and re-interred in a vault in the centre of Glasnevin Cemetery. The title ‘The Servant of God, Matt Talbot’ was inscribed on the coffin and his grave became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over Ireland and indeed the world.

In 1972 Matt Talbot’s remains were removed to their present resting place in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Seán McDermott Street, where pilgrims can pray and see his coffin through a glass panel. Other places of interest for those who wish to seek his intercession are of course Granby Lane, marked by a plaque, opposite where he died, on the walls of the Salvation Army hostel, demonstrating that addiction distinguishes between neither class nor religion, and by a cross on the railings near the exact spot.

The official Church began in 1931 to take an interest in Matt’s life of heroic sanctity when Archbishop Edward Byrne started a sworn enquiry, and this led to a similar Vatican enquiry in 1947, which led the humble Dublin labourer to be publicly venerated at his shrine in the heart of the poorest part of the city and honoured with the title of ‘Venerable’. Matt needs two miracles to rise from ‘Venerable’ to ‘Sainthood’ and to achieve this a massive official prayer card campaign as outlined above is essential.

The priest with the responsibility to search for these first-class miracles is contactable at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, 83 Marlborough Street, and anyone who has had knowledge of any miraculous cure or favour granted by the Venerable Matt Talbot should write to the above address. American readers should write to:

Secretary to the Matt Talbot Retreat Movement – Mr. Mel Wordley, 188 Elmwood Avenue, Glen Rock, NJ 67452.

We must remember that Matt, in heaven, will be as hidden and unassuming as he was on earth and therefore we who need him to be declared a saint must work hard towards that end, so that those bound by the chains of any type of addiction can have the hope of their prayers being answered by a saint who understands their plight.

This is a man who said to his sister: ‘Never look down on a man who cannot give up drink, it is easier to get out of hell.’ This humble Dublin labourer, who in his adult life had to teach himself to read and write, has left the world the most concise and most simple and practical guide to the spiritual life and holiness that I have ever encountered in all the hundreds of books or articles that I have read.

It is as follows: ‘Three things I cannot escape: the eye of God, the voice of conscience, the stroke of death. In company, guard your tongue. In your family, guard your temper. When alone guard your thoughts”

Official Matt Talbot Canonisation Prayer

Lord, in your servant Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of life-long reverence for the Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give us courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Father, if it be your will that your beloved servant should be glorified by your Church, make it known by your heavenly favours the power he enjoys in your sight. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen