June 17, 2017

Venerable Matthew Talbot Won Sobriety With Faith

Venerable Matt Talbot

(In 2017, this feast is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.)

For anyone who has ever struggled with alcoholism, it should come as no surprise that Matthew Talbot, who sank to the depths of heavy drinking and soul crushing despair, also rose, through his struggle for sobriety, to the heights that the Church calls “venerable.” His story is an inspiration, not only to recovering alcoholics, but to anyone struggling with a seemingly overwhelming obsession.

Matt Talbot was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, the second of twelve children of Charles and Elizabeth Talbot. He began drinking when he was only 12 years old. after becoming a messenger for liquor merchants. In fact, with the exception of his oldest brother, all the Talbot men, father and sons, drank to excess often.

For the next 15 years, Talbot continued to drink heavily. It wasn’t until he was 28 that he finally "hit bottom" and promised his mother he would "take the pledge." Her reply was prescient: "May God give you strength to keep it." Matt went to confession and attended daily Mass. He prayed as intensely as he used to drink,

From that time forward, Talbot was a changed man. He began to pray and attend Mass with the same zeal he had formerly devoted to drinking. In 1891, at the age of 35, he joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Once known for his drunken rages, he instead became known for piety, humility, and generosity. His drinking had compromised his health and he suffered from kidney and heart ailments.

On June 7, 1925, Matthew Talbot collapsed and died as he was walking to Mass on Trinity Sunday. Matthew Talbot was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1973. His feast day is June 18th. Lord, in your servant, Matt Talbot you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence for the Holy Sacrament. May his life of prayer and penance give us courage to take up our crosses and bravely follow Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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