Matt Talbot was born on May 3rd, 1856 and baptised two days later, on the feast of St Pius V. He was the second child of a family of twelve children, three of which died in young age. The family had a very hard life as they moved not less than 11 times in the course of 18 years. The cause of this continual instability lies mainly in the father’s drink problem.
Matt never went to school. At the age of 11, he received a few lessons in religion, writing, reading and arithmetic by a very young Christian Brother who was not even 20 years old, one of the zealous souls urged by the Archbishop of Dublin, to save the children who were continually assailed by and urged to join the Protestant street preachers. At 12, Matt left his teacher and began to work, unfortunately, in a wine store. Workers induced him to drink and within a year he had to change job and got employment in the Bonded Stores at the Custom Dock House. The drinking continued. As a matter of fact, it continued for a solid 16 years. During all that time, all his money went to drink, every penny, every copper. He was one of these poor souls, described by St Paul, “cujus Deus venter est – whose God is their belly” (Phil.3,19). And as one sin leads to another, in order to drink, he began to steal with his friends. He stole once the fiddle of a poor blind man. Later on he searched through Dublin for that man, in vain. He even pawned his shirt and boots for drink.
Until the day the saving grace of God was offered to him. He was then 28. Unemployed on that particular day, he had been waiting outside a public house for his “friends” to pass him on their way in and to give him a few “bobs”. He got nothing. They passed him and gave him absolutely nothing. The shock of their scornful refusal hurt him far more that the lack of the price of a pint. Like the prodigal son, he felt the painful nature of that kind of “friendship”. Wounded, he wandered a few steps away at a little bridge, Newcomer Bridge, and leaned over, gazing at the dark waters below. God, the living water, was there, in the dark water. A strong grace of God shone in his soul, showed him his life wasted in miserable drink and filled him with shame and disgust. He would no longer be the spineless good-for-nothing Matt Talbot. He would offend God no more. Enough was enough. He would take the pledge and keep it. All this lasted a few brief instants. Yet, this was one of the Blessed Trinity’s greatest miracles, one of these “ultimate effects of Divine power”. Click here to read entire sermon
Any advice or ideas which bloggers may like to share on this thread could be of immense help to those with major concerns due to friends and/or family members with drink problems. Obviously, no names or identifying features should be shared – it really is a small world, so take care if you choose to tell us about someone in your own circle. Above all, we hope that by reading about Matt Talbot, bloggers will be encouraged to pray to him for conversions similar to his own. Abusing alcohol can ruin lives and I dare say we all know of Catholics, especially, perhaps, lapsed Catholics, who are afflicted with this problem. But this thread needn’t just be about alcoholism. Conversion is a key theme, so if you have any stories from your own experience of the lapsed returning to the Faith or new converts embracing the Faith, or you simply want to write about a favourite saint whose conversion story made a difference in your life, feel free to post it on this thread – if it’s edifying, we want to read all about it!