Thursday, June 19, 2008


Our Protestant brothers and sisters do not understand the Catholic practice of honoring Saints and even naming Churches after them. Some Protestants will name a church after a back alley or service station before someone considered a "Saint."

Recently, my son, Nathaniel and I were talking about the American Indian custom of naming children. After the birth, the proud father would go outside and name the child after the first thing he saw: Running Bear, Crazy Horse, etc. He suggested that our Protestant brothers and sisters must do something similar. They leave the parking lot and drive around until something strikes them to name the new fellowship: 32 Street Church of Christ, for example. Well with such inspiration, we were creating a few fellowships of our own as we drove along...The Home Depot Church of the Redeemer, Exxon Church of Christ, Steinmart Third Presbyterian.

Protestant readers, do not be offended. I love you. I owe a great deal to you in my odyssey of coming into the fullness of my relationship to Christ. But really, what is wrong with naming a church after a great Protestant man or woman of God? (Some Anglicans and Lutherans do name Churches after saints.) Saints are our our link to past salvation history...through their testimony, they give us hope that we too can walk the Gospel way. And what is wrong with asking them to help us to respond to God's grace as they did? So how about "Dietrich Bonhoffer Baptist?" Would that be a miracle or what!!!

I subscribe to a daily email blast from called "Saint of the Day." Go to their site and sign up. It's free and each day, you will receive a short biographical selection of a holy man or woman of God. As you read these sketches, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Suffering and Sanctity go hand in hand.
I am not talking physical suffering necessarily, but all kinds: depression, addictions, battles with carnality, temptations to despair and loss of faith, etc. You suddenly realize that the Saints are just like us. The big difference is that, unlike us, they didn't waste all of the graces that God gives us each nanosecond.

I was really impressed with Matt Talbot. His story is found below. His life gives me great hope, for he is the saint for those addicted to all the evils that our modern culture offers: alcohol, drugs, porn, sex...etc. His life shows that prayer and cooperation with God's inestimable and inexhaustible grace, changes things.

Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism.
Matt was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was 30—Matt was an active alcoholic.

One day he decided to take "the pledge" for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s laborer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year. Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. He prayed the rosary conscientiously. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.

After 1923 his health failed and Matt was forced to quit work. He died on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. Fifty years later Pope Paul VI gave him the title "Venerable."

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