Tag Archives: alcohol



O God, my Father, to show my love for thee, to make reparation to thy wounded honour, to obtain the salvation of souls, I firmly propose to take this day neither wine nor beer, nor any intoxicating drink.

I offer thee this act of mortification, in union with the sacrifice of thy Son Jesus Christ, Who daily offers Himself a Victim on the altar for thy greater glory. Amen.

[300 days’ Indulgence. – Pius X., Br., March 29th, 1904.]


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“God really does want to help sinners get to heaven. He wants all of us there. And that’s why he’s left us confession.

In confession, God’s mercy is on tap to all who need it. The people who commit the same sin again and again, can keep turning to him in sorrow and know they will always receive his merciful forgiveness. A man can commit the same sin ten thousand times, and ten thousand times turn to God with real repentance, and each time find our Lord as loving and merciful as ever. It would be awful to think that our sins could begin to exhaust God’s mercy. But they cannot. God’s mercy is infinite. Our sins, however many, are only finite in number. The finite cannot intrude into the infinite or begin to diminish it.


Moreover, our repeated confessions slowly make us more humble, and thus bring us closer to God. Our sins will be expiated in purgatory, but our humility will be the measure of our eternal union with God in heaven. In fact, I’ve sometimes had the impression that God leaves some people with sins in order to prevent worse – the sin of pride. It’s pride that God fears more than anything to see in us. He may leave some people with a sin they hate, just to keep them from a pride that would prove fatal.


I once knew an old tramp who’d been struggling with a drink problem all his life. He told me that some days he’d be kneeling at the back of the church, begging God, ‘Lord, keep me away from it!’ and then he’d go out and get drunk again. When he was drunk he would steal, and thus he’d spend his life in and out of prison. He died with the Little Sisters of the Poor, and I used to think that this weakness had kept him holy.

He must have been a fine looking man when he was young, and I think he came of a good family. I suppose he could have done very well in a material sort of way and got rich and proud and drifted away from God and lost his soul. As it was, his weakness had kept him humble and forced him back to God and the sacraments again and again, and I really think that this is what God had allowed to bring him safe to heaven.”
– Fr Hugh S. Thwaites


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I will be making a new resolution at the start of this New Year. Every year I do so, but every year I fail to keep my resolution. Is there any point in even making a resolution in the first place? Please keep my name confidential.


Thank you for your letter. Habits are never easy to uproot.

We have only to look at how easily people get the habit of smoking, drinking too much alcohol, excessive eating etc.

Even though we break resolutions sincerely made and feel bad about it, would we not be much worse off if we had never made a resolution at all? Never been aware of the need of trying to improve our lives and making some effort to do so?

Jesus calls us to conversion, to change, and praises our resolution to change. He asks us for persevering effort even though we fail time and time again. Ask for His help in your efforts to improve.

A very good resolution for the coming year would be to decide to give a little more time to prayer.

A Word of Hope – Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “God does not ask us to succeed, He simply asks us to try.'”
– This article was published in “Saint Martin Magazine” issue January 2005. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


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“… One friend of mine was leading a self-destructive lifestyle, he hated himself for something he had done in the past and he couldn’t forgive himself.

So for a number of years he drank heavily and took drugs. One night he stayed at his mum’s house and at the top of the stairs she had a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As he was passing it, he stopped and looked at Mary and because of the despair he was feeling he said to her, ‘Are you real? Because if you are I need you because I am dying here!’ and nothing happened so he went to bed.



The next morning he awoke to the sound of the Hoover going downstairs in the living room. Now it was a Sunday morning and his mum would never normally clean on a Sunday.

Then he remembered that he had hidden his stash of drugs underneath the settee in that room and he knew she had found them. The rest of that day he was in fear of the confrontation that he was sure would arise because of this discovery.

Later that day his dad came up to him and asked him to come outside. Then he held out his hands towards his son. In one hand were the drugs his mum had found and the other hand was empty.

Then his dad said to him, ‘Today I’m giving you a choice, you can take your drugs and you can leave this home because we will not watch you destroy yourself any longer, or you can take the hand of the family that loves you and you can change your life and be our son again.’

That day, he decided he wanted to change and not long afterwards the love of God touched his life in a deep way and he committed himself to live for the Lord.


A few years later he was asked to give a talk on Our Lady at his local parish and he decided to use the picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from his mum’s house. When he took it down off the wall he was surprised to find the names of all his brothers and sisters written on the back with his own name written at the very bottom.

So he went to his mum and asked why his name was written on the back of the picture of Mary? She replied, “When you were in your wildest times and I was worried sick about you and I couldn’t even sleep at night, I went on a retreat and the priest said, ‘If you are worried about your children, consecrate them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she will look after them because she loves them even more than you do.’

When he heard this, my friend started to cry because he knew that it was Our Lady who had led him back to her son Jesus!

St Pio always used to say, ‘Pray, hope and don’t worry.’ I think that is very good advice, because there is always some situation that will worry us and rob us of our peace if we allow it to.”
Pray, hope and don’t worry!
– This is an excerpt of an article by John Pridmore which was published in “The Pilgrim” issue October 2013. More about the Archdiocese of Southwark including vocation information at (external link).


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“Alcohol addictions are at times so strong that those closest to the alcoholic are led to believe that he will never overcome his addiction, and the alcoholic himself is tempted to lose all hope. It is good then to remember Jesus’ resurrection. This reminds us that failure is never God’s last word.”


“In a street in Dublin, Ireland, on the morning of Trinity Sunday, June 7, 1925, a man who was making his way to a nearby church suddenly collapsed, dead. His body was taken to the hospital to be washed by a religious nurse. She was greatly amazed when, in removing the deceased’s clothing, she discovered a chain from which hung religious medals, wound twice around his waist. Other chains or cords encircled his arms and legs. Although these rusty chains were embedded in his skin, his body was impeccably clean. So who was this man? Was he insane or a saint?



Matt Talbot was born in Dublin in May 1856, the sixth child in a family of twelve. As a young boy, he was placed in the school of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine, where he did not do well in his studies. At the age of 12, he began work in a brewery. Working in an atmosphere where alcohol was everywhere, he soon followed the bad example of the other employees and began to empty the bottles. Seeing him come home every evening in unusually good spirits, his father intervened and found him another job, under his own supervision, with the port and dock committee. But Matt’s situation got worse – he got into the habit of swearing and using the dockers’ strong language. To top it all off, his new work buddies introduced him to whiskey! His father tried to dissuade him, and came to blows over it with him, but to no use.

To his parents’ despair, Matt removed himself from the paternal authority and sunk into drunkenness. However, the young man was a kindhearted soul. Realising the dishonour he had brought upon his father, he left the docks and was hired as a mason. He then spent every evening in cabarets and regularly went home drunk. He spent his entire wages on booze. He sank to such a point of vice that sometimes he resorted to stealing to get hold of alcohol.

His body was slowly being destroyed. But, more serious still is the sin that gives death to the soul: intemperate use of drink offends the Creator. Through alcoholism, just as through drugs, man voluntarily deprives himself of the use of reason, the most noble attribute of human nature. This licentiousness, when carried out in full knowledge and voluntarily, is a serious sin against God and also against the neighbour whom one, in a state of drunkenness, puts himself in danger of seriously offending.


In spite of his debasement, Matt retained a degree of propriety. He did not have illicit relations. Every morning, no matter the libations of the night before, he was up at six o’clock to go to work. He also faithfully attended Sunday Mass, even if he did not receive the Sacraments. One Saturday in 1884, divine grace knocked at his door. After having been out of work for a week, Matt, 28 years old, found himself without money and unable to buy alcohol. And yet, he was tormented by desire. Around noon, he went to station himself with Philip, his younger brother, on a street corner where workers passed after having received their pay. Surely one or another would invite him to have a drink. The workers passed and greet him, but no one invited him.

Matt was cut to the quick. To be deprived of alcohol cost him dearly, but most of all, he was wounded by the harshness of his friends, to whom he had frequently offered a round at the cabaret. He apruptly went home.

His mother was quite surprised to see him arrive so early, and sober. His mother! Matt was seized with the thought that he had been so ungrateful towards her. He had given his parents almost nothing toward board and lodging (all his money went to buy alcohol!) And now his heart was broken for having left them to suffer alone, while he went off to drink in a selfish manner.

At this time in Ireland, it was not unusual for a man who wanted to give up drinking to make a pledge. After the meal, sitting alone with his mother, Matt suddenly said, ‘I am going to make the pledge.’


‘Good heavens! Do it, but don’t make it if you can’t keep it!’
‘I will make it, in God’s name.’
After having carefully dressed himself, he went to the College of the Holy Cross, asked to see a priest, and confessed. On the priest’s prudent advice, Matt made his pledge for a three-month period. The next day, he went to hear the five o’clock Mass at Saint Francis Xavier Church, received Communion and returned home renewed.

But to remain faithful to his pledge, the struggle would be terrible. Matt therefore decided to draw from daily Communion the spiritual strength he would need to keep his resolution. The most difficult time was in the evening, after work. To avoid temptation, the newly-converted began to take walks in the city. One day, however, he entered a cabaret at the same time as a number of other customers. The bartender, who was busy, seemed to ignore Matt, who, offended by his inattention, left as quickly as possible, having decided never again to set foot in a pub.


During his walks, Matt met with another difficulty: alcohol had ruined his health, and he grew tired quickly. So, entering a church, he knelt before the Tabernacle and began to pray, begging God to strengthen him. He thus got into the habit of visiting the house of God. Nevertheless, the three months were long. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal – hallucinations, depression, nausea, – were for him a veritable Calvary.


At times, the old passion awakened in him – he had to struggle desperately and prolong his prayers.

One day, returning home, he collapsed into a chair and sadly said to his mother: ‘It’s all no use, Mother – once these three months are over, I will drink again…’ But his mother comforted him and encouraged him to pray. Following this advice to the letter, Matt acquired a taste for prayer, and therein found his salvation. Indeed, prayer allows us to get out of situations that are hopeless in human terms. ‘For God all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26). When the three months were over, astonished to have ‘stuck it out’, Matt renewed his vow for another six months, at the end of which he promised never to drink alcohol again.


Matt began a new life, a life of intimacy with God, of which daily Mass was the pillar. But, in 1892, the 5 a.m. Mass at which Matt usually received Communion was cancelled. The first Mass from then on was at 6.15. Despite the real skill he had acquired in his work, he did not hesitate to change jobs, and was hired as a simple manual labourer at a wood merchant’s, where work didn’t start until eight o’clock. His new job consisted of loading trucks. At night, as soon as work was over, he washed with care, put on his best clothes – because he did not want to enter the house of God with his work clothes on – and went to the church to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

One day, he admitted to his confessor: ‘I greatly desired the gift of prayer, and my wish has been fully granted.’His existence from then on was completely directed towards God, and especially the true presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle. ‘While the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories – Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’,’ wrote Pope Paul VI. ‘For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from His example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ’s infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand – and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul – just how precious life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness (Encyclical ‘Mysterium Fidei’, September 3, 1965)


Matt Talbot cherished a tender devotion to the Mother of Jesus. Every day, he recited the Rosary and the office of the Blessed Virgin. Around 1912, he read the ‘Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin’, by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. In this book, he learned to practise ‘holy slavery’ through the consecration of his entire being and all his possessions to the service of Mary. [The consecration prayer and information can be found on this blog; please type “The prayer of consecration to Jesus through Mary” into this blog’s search facility; for information about living the consecration, please enter, “Living the consecration to Jesus through Mary” (4 instalments).]

Naturally quick tempered, Matt came to find it very difficult to endure his companions’ swearing and coarse language. When they took the Lord’s name in vain, he respectfully lifted his hat. Seeing this gesture, his friends would redouble their bad language. Matt would severely reprimand them, but later he limited himself to gently saying, ‘Jesus Christ hears you.’ One day, he sharply criticised his foreman for a less than generous charitable contribution. His boss called him back to respect and, the next day, Matt reported to his boss: ‘Our Lord,’ he declared, ‘told me that I must ask your forgiveness. I am coming to do it.’ His exemplary life ended up inspiring respect. What is more, he was a pleasant companion, always the first to laugh at a good joke, provided that it was within the limits of propriety.


In imitation of the ancient Irish monks who followed the tradition of Saint Columba, Matt imposed upon himself their [vegetarian] ascetic dietary regimen, both for the expiation of his sins as well as to mortify himself and promote in himself the life of the spirit. However, when friends invited him, he ate like everyone else.

Entering the Third Order of St Francis, he applied himself to imitate Christ’s poverty, reducing his needs to a bare minimum, and giving the rest to the poor. At the beginning of his conversion, he had kept the habit of smoking. One day, one of his friends asked him for tobacco. He had just bought a pipe and a bag of tobacco. In a heroic gesture, he gave them both away, and would never smoke again. He ordinarily wore shabby and threadbare clothes, and one day, someone gave him a new suit. He wanted to refuse it, but his confessor intervened – ‘Talbot, your clothes look wretched. They are offering you a new suit…’ – ‘Father, I promised God never to wear new clothes.’ – ‘Well!’ replied the Father. ‘It is God Who is sending you these!’ – ‘All right, if it is God Who is sending them to me, I’ll take them.’

If there was one luxury that Matt allowed himself, it was books. He loved to spend time reading, his favourite reading material being the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Saints. Flipping through the Bible found in his home after his death, one could notice that he was especially fond of the Psalms, particularly the penitential Psalms in which the sinner expresses regret to God for his sins [They can be found on this blog, please type “Penitential Psalms” into the search facility], but also unshakeable confidence in divine mercy: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness: in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offence. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and from my sin cleanse me… Give me back the joy of Your salvation… (Psalm 50).

He also made notes that reveal an astonishing elevation of thought for a man of very rudimentary schooling. Some examples of his reflections: ‘Our time in this life is only a race to death, in which no man can stop… Freedom of the mind is gained by freeing oneself from pride, which makes the soul disposed to do the will of God in the smallest things… Applying the will consists in doing good, abusing it consists in doing evil… In meditation, we seek God through reason and commendable acts, but in contemplation, we see effortlessly…’ This life of prayer and penitence was strengthened by exceptional graces. One day he confided to his sister: ‘How sad it is to see what little love people have for God! .. Oh Susan! If you knew the profound joy I felt last night as I was conversing with God and His Blessed Mother!’, then, realising that he was talking about himself, he changed the subject.

There was profound unrest in Ireland in the period from 1911 to 1921 – labour conflicts marked by unemployment and strikes, the struggle for home rule, the First World War, then the war between Ireland and England. In the midst of this unrest, Matt kept his soul in peace. Nevertheless, the workers’ cause was close to his heart. He candidly condemned the inadequacy of the salaries of married workers, who he helped financiaally as much as he could. But he never demanded anything for himself. When friends quit their jobs or were dismissed, he expressed support of their cause.


At the age of sixty-seven, Matt Talbot was physically spent – shortness of breath and heart palpitations forced him to ease up on his activities. After two hospital stays in 1923 and 1925, he recovered to some degree and took up his work again. During these stays, as soon as he was able, he would go to the chapel. To a nun who scolded him for the fright he had given her when he disappeared from the room, he answered, smiling, ‘I have thanked the sisters and the doctors – was it not right to thank the Great Healer?’

On Sunday, June 7, 1925, he was making his way to the Church of the Holy Saviour. Exhausted, he collapsed on the pavement. A lady gave him a glass of water. Matt opened his eyes, smiled and let his head fall down gain – this was the great encounter so desired with Christ Who came ‘to call, not the self-righteous, but sinners’ (Mt 9:13). In 1975 Matt Talbot received the title ‘Venerable’. Today, many charitable organisations dedicated to helping victims of alcohol and drugs place themselves under his patronage.


Matt Talbot is a model for all men and women. To victims of alcoholism or drugs, he shows through his example that, with the grace of God, recovery is possible. ‘Alcohol addictions are at times so strong that those closest to the alcoholic are led to believe that he will never overcome his addiction, and the alcoholic himself is tempted to lose all hope. It is good then to remember Jesus’ resurrection. This reminds us that failure is never God’s last word’ (Social Commission of French Bishops, December 1st 1998). To those who are slaves to other sins, he reminds them that one must ‘never despair of God’s mercy’ in accordance with Saint Benedict’s recommendation (Rule, ch.4). Our Lord promised St Margaret Mary that sinners would find in His Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy. Just as it is the nature of a ship to sail on the water, it is God’s nature to forgive and be merciful, as the Church confirms in one of her prayers.

Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, also was able to write near the end of her manuscripts: ‘Even if I had on my conscience all the sinst that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with repentance, to throw myself into the arms of Jesus, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him.’ She added: ‘If I had committed all the crimes it is possible to commit, I would still have the same confidence, I would feel that this multitude of offences would be like a drop of water thrown into a blazing fire.’

Matt Talbot’s life eloquently proves that by turning faithfully to the Lord to ask forgiveness, one may, through the Sacrament of Penance, the normal way of Reconciliation with God, begin a new life under Mary’s maternal gaze.”
– Dom Antoine Marie OSB. This article was published in “The Little Way Association” (Helping the Missions side by side with St Therese), issue number 88. For more information and donations to The Little Way Association, please contact them at: Sacred Heart House, 119 Cedars Road, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR. Tel.: +44 (0)20 7622 0466


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Lord Jesus, I put myself into Your hands this day. I ask You with all my heart to cure the terrible addiction to alcohol in (name the person).

Create in them an intolerance for alcohol that will prevent them from ever offending those who love them again.

And grant their loved ones the grace to forgive them for all the hurt they have caused.

Through the Divine Mercy and Blood of Jesus, I also pray that they will be healed of all withdrawal symptoms of this terrible affliction.

I sincerely ask this, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.


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“His body is withering away, not only from cold and hunger, but also of excess alcohol…Wine is his faithful companion, and cirrhosis of the liver and other sicknesses slowly consumes his body.”



Paul is seated on the cold stones of the Church of St James in a small village of Bavaria (Germany). As always he is there to beg alms. Before Mass begins, he opens the doors of the church to the faithful entering and gives them a friendly smile, thus showing a mouth practically with no teeth.

He is fifty years old and is one of those homeless beggars struggling to survive. His body is withering away, not only from cold and hunger, but also because of excess alcohol. He seems much older than he is. If only he had the determination to fight against this vice, he continuously thought…and he renews his firm resolution not to drink.
With nightfall, though, comes the memory of his family lost in a tragic accident, his resistance fades away, and he again consoles himself with the bottle. The alcohol lessens the emptiness of his soul, at least for a short period of time. Wine is his faithful companion, and cirrhosis of the liver and other sicknesses slowly consume his body. The colour of his face does not bode well for his health. Paul became an integral part of the stairs of the Church in the eyes of those living in the neighbourhood, just as if he were a statue, and this is how they treated him. Most paid no attention to him, and those that did asked themselves how long he would last.

The parish priest and his pastoral aide still worry about him, but more does especially Sister Petra, a young missionary who visits him every day. He enjoys visits of the nun who always brings him something to eat. However, even this young religious is unable to take Paul off the street. He does not want to enter the presbytery even just to eat or wash himself.

Each night when darkness fell and no one could see him, Paul slipped into the empty and dark church and sat in the first bench right in front of the Tabernacle. There he would remain in silence, almost without moving, for about one hour. He would then get up, shuffle down the centre aisle and leave by the main door, disappearing into the dark night. To where? Nobody knows. The next day, however, he would be there sitting on the stairs in front of the main doors of the church.
So the days passed. Once Sister Petra asked him, “Paul, I see you entering the church every evening. What do you do there so late? Do you by chance pray?”
“No, I do not pray,” Paul answered. “How could I pray? I have not prayed since I was a child and went to religion classes. I have forgotten all the prayers. I do not remember any of them. So what do I do in the church? It is simple. I go to the Tabernacle where Jesus is alone in His small house and I say to Him: ‘Jesus, it is I, Paul. I have come to visit you.’ There I stay a while so at least someone keeps Him company.”


On Christmas morning, the spot on the stairs that Paul had occupied for years was empty. Worried, Sister Petra looked for him and finally found him in the hospital near the church. In the early morning hours some passers-by had found him unconscious on a bridge and called an ambulance. Paul was now on a sick bed.


When the missionary saw him, she was shocked. Paul was full of tubes and his breathing was weak. His face had the pallor of the dying.
“Are you his relative?” The voice of the doctor awoke Sister Petra from her thoughts.
“No, but I will take care of him,” she answered spontaneously.
“Unfortunately there is not much that can be done; he is dying.” Shaking his head, the doctor left the room.
Sister Petra sat next to Paul, took his hand, and prayed for a long time. Then, very sad, she made her way back to the presbytery.
The next day she returned to the hospital, braced for the bad news that Paul had died.

“Oh, what has happened?” She cannot believe her eyes. Paul is sitting in bed and has shaven. With lively open eyes he is happy at seeing the nun. An expression of ineffable joy shines over his radiant face. Sister Petra thinks to herself, “Is this really the man that was fighting for his life yesterday?”

“Paul, this is incredible. You are practically resurrected. You are unrecognisable. What happened?”

“It happened not long after you left yesterday evening. I was not feeling well at all. However, all of a sudden, I saw someone next to my bed. He was beautiful, indescribably splendourous…You can have no idea! He smiled at me and said, “Paul, it is I, Jesus. I have come to visit you.'”

From that moment Paul never touched a drop of alcohol again. Sister Petra arranged for him to have a room in the presbytery and employment as a gardener. His life was transformed entirely from that Christmas on. Paul found new friends in the parish and, whenever he could, he helped Sister Petra with her duties. One thing, though, always remained the same: when night fell, Paul would slip into the church, sit before the Tabernacle and say, “Jesus, it is I, Paul. I have come to visit you.”

– fr. ‘Woechentliche Depesche christlicher Nachrichten’, RU 50/2010; in TFP Viewpoint, December 2012. Contact TFP Viewpoint at: The Editor, TFP Viewpoint, 24/2 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3DQ; email:


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