Sunday 8 January 2023

The Kingdom of Matt Talbot A Dublin Labourer 1856-1925 - Sir Joseph Glynn LLD - CTS Books

The Kingdom of Matt Talbot 
A Dublin Labourer: 1856-1925
Sir Joseph Glynn LLD
CTS Booklet BH308

This is the third book I have read about Matt Talbot, and it is one of 2 if not three volumes written by Sir Joseph Glynn about Matt. I have become quite fascinated by the man and have tracked down 4 other volumes about him I plan to read. The first volume I read just about Matt was The Holy Man of Dublin: or the Silence of Matt Talbot by Alice Curtayne, and I have been hooked since. I have picked up several books about Matt and Saint David of Wales and have been alternating them as my non-fiction reads. I have been talking to friends about Matt and his life for a few weeks now. And the more I read the more inspired I become. I believe Sir Joseph wrote the first biography of matt, and it sold out numerous printings, later he wrote an expanded version of it. 

The original version of this booklet was published in 1926. The edition I read was from 1958 from the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, and had a Nihil Obstat: Joseph P. Newth C.C., and Imprimi Potest: Ionnes Carolus Archbishop of Bublinen, Hiberniae Primas 12 November 1957. This little volume was fascinating as it is a reprint of the original life of Matt that bright his life of devotion and prayer to the world. In a sense it is one of the main causes of the cult that has sprung up around this man, that spans the globe and did so shortly after his death. Nearly a century after his death and many are still devoted to seeking his prayers. 

The chapters in this volume are:

Who He Was
How He Spent His Day
His Devotions
What Was Found in His Prayer Book
What He Read
His Fasts and Mortifications
His Charity
His Illness and Death

I loved the cover of this volume, this edition in that it contains a facsimile of one of his own transcriptions, and has the chain down the side of the cover. Both of which are central to his story, and the fascination the world has had with him since his passing. I highlighted numerous passages while reading this small volume, some of them are:

“On Trinity Sw1day, June 7th, 1925, at about 9.30., a man was seen to fall in Granby Lane on the way to St. Saviour's Church, Dominick Street, Dublin. On being taken to Jervis Street Hospital he was found to be dead and was laid in the mortuary, where shortly afterwards one of the Sisters of Mercy came with a nurse to prepare the corpse for burial. On removing the clothes she found a cart chain tied twice around the body, and hung with religious medals ; around one arm was a lighter chain, around the other, the cord of St. Francis ; around one leg a chain similar to that which was around the arm ; around the other, a rope was tied tightly.”

“The facts related in this little life have been obtained directly from the nearest living relatives of Matt Talbot, and from those who knew him intimately for over 30 years in his work and in his devotions. Nothing has been recorded that has not been tested and proved, and if the result is to show that we have bee privileged to live in the time of one who, by his sanctity an his austerities, rivalled our ancient Irish Saints, then let us thank God Who has raised to such high state a poor, unlettered labouring man who lived and prayed in a Dublin tenement room.”

“While employed at Pemberton's he was sent to work on a job in the residence of a Protestant clergyman. The latter had a Catholic cook who was a good, pious girl. She observed the holiness of the young builder's labourer, and he was attracted by her piety. The girl suggested marriage, and stated that she possessed considerable savings which would enable them to set up a comfortable home. Matt at once began a Novena that he might be enlightened as to the Will of God on this matter, and received a reply in prayer that he was to remain single. He then informed the girl of his decision, and never afterwards wavered in his resolution not to marry.”

“One of the Brothers attached to St. Francis Xavier's Church, Gardiner Street, who knew him very well, states that he was rather a silent man. He never spoke to the Brothers unless spoken to, in which case he discussed things frankly and openly.”

“Two of his foremen, who knew him for thirty years said Matt was never late for his work. Only on one occasion did one of these miss Talbot, and then it was because the latter had not heard a lorry coming into the yard and had remained in a small shed to which he used to retire during slack periods of the day in order to pray.”

“Next day he would probably bring some pious book, and lend it to the man to whom he had spoken. At first the men jeered Matt, but after a little time his strong character and absolute sincerity impressed all, and it was an unheard of thing for anyone to use bad language in the yard in which he worked.”

“Sometimes the other men pressed him to eat some of their food, and he generally did so, as he had made a rule not to persist in refusing lest it should attract attention to his fasting.”

“During slack minutes of the day he would speak to men whom he knew well on incidents in the lives of the Saints he had read. He interested them by these stories, and always lead the conversation round to holy things. He did this quite simply and without the least self-consciousness. God was always in his mind and he had to speak of Him.”

“It is not easy to give a really constructive account of his Devotions. We have seen in the last chapter that practically from 2 o’clock in the morning until nearly 5 o'clock he was on his knees in his room, and we know that in the eve1ting, certainly not later than 6.30, he resumed his prayers until 10:30 or 11 o'clock, again on his knees.”

“He had a number of regular devotions. After his devotion to our Blessed Lord he had a very special devotion to the Mother of God, and in pursuance of this devotion he recited every day the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, the Dolour Beads and the Beads of the Immaculate Conception. Other special devotions which he had every day were the Beads of the Holy. Ghost, the Beads of St. Michael, the Beads of the Sacred Heart, and the Chaplet for the Souls in Purgatory.”

“He had a number of Litanies taken from the various books of devotion, which he recited during the long period of prayer in the evening, and numbers of his most used books are the little Manuals of special devotions suitable for various times of the year. He performed Novenas for all the principal Feasts, and here and there through his little books are found notes giving the dates on which certain Novenas were to begin, such as, for example, that to his Guardian Angel. These Novenas often overlapped. One little leaflet has, in his own writing a note of the beginning of the Novena to St. Michael on the 21st September, and to his Guardian Angel on the 24th September. Every First Thursday he did the Eucharistic Hour.”

“A person who knew him well states that quite a number of temporary favours were got through his prayers. One was of a very remarkable nature. Every effort to settle a temporary matter had failed. when Talbot was asked to pray for a successful issue. Within a fortnight of his prayers the matter was most unexpectedly solved in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Another friend who was involved in a family quarrel succeeded in settling his quarrel through Talbot's prayers.”

“All through it are leaflets dealing with various Devotions, or favourite hymns torn from a hymn book. These hymns he used sing when at his devotion in his, room. The little book itself was not a prayer book for use in the Church, for he did not use a prayer book at Mass; it was rather for private use, and consisted exclusively of devotion to the Holy Ghost.”

“Every new addition to the Calendar found its way into his little collection, as could be seen from the large number of publications of the Messenger and C.T.S. series of booklets.”

“When we remember that he worked in a timber yard we understand how he came by bits of paper with such measurements on them. He loved his books, and when he spoke to others he generally brought the conversation round to holy things, and then he told his listeners incidents in the lives of the Saints out of some book which he had lately read. So he stored his mind with the Science of the Saints and learned from them how to follow in the footsteps of his Master.”

“Some 12 or 14 years before his death he chanced upon a copy of “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin," by Blessed Grignion de Montfort. There he read of the Slaves of Mary who wore chains in her honour. It was then he procured the chains which he constantly wore ever afterwards until his death, with the exception apparently of the period when he was ill in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in I923, and when from motives of humility he removed them prior to entering the hospital. At first he wore the principal chain around his shoulders, but, as he found this interfered  with his work of carrying planks of timber on his shoulders the planks drove the chains into his flesh-he transferred the chain to his waist.”

“He had a very great admiration for Saints who had performed extraordinary penances, and spoke of them with open admiration. His favourite description of Saint Teresa, Saint Mary of Egypt, and other women saints, was " they were great girls.””

“A lay friend to whom the writer applied for information stated that Matt Talbot revealed his interior life to very few and to no one fully. Two priests knew him intimately, but both are dead. One was the Rev. Father James Walsh, S.J., and the other the Right Rev. Monsignor Hickey, D.D., who, during his long connection with Holy Cross, College, Clonliffe, knew Matt Talbot very intimately. Monsignor Hickey often v1s1ted Talbot in his little room and spent considerable time talking with him.”

“He must have removed his chains before entering the hospital, as the Sisters of Mercy state that he did not wear them while under treatment. He was remembered in the hospital as the man who prayed with such devotion and recollection, and who had a habit of praying aloud, a habit probably acquired in his own little room where he was alone and could pray as he wished.”

“Through all those years of gathering clouds there lived in our midst a poor, lowly, labouring man, who was a model workman, a model Catholic, and a source of edification to all who knew him. His life pointed out the only path to true peace for all who labour, namely, a life of self-discipline lived in perfect agreement with the Law of God and of His Church.”

“He was ever cheerful, ever kindly, ever willing to help another. The saints are never gloomy because there reigns within them the Peace which surpasseth all understanding, and they find their joy on this earth in following the footsteps of their Divine Master.”

I hope those quotes give you a taste of this book, about Matt, his life and his devotion. And that you will track down this or another volume to read about Matt. I am sure you will be inspired and challenged. There is made mention in this volume a book: “A Manual of Devotion in Honour of the Holy Ghost” by Father John Mary, a Capuchin. It is mentioned twice. I have not been able to find it in my research so far. I believe it may be available as The Paraclete: A Manual of Instruction and Devotion by Fr Marianus Fieg, if you can confirm that please leave a comment below. 

This again is a book any Catholic could benefit from read. It will inspire and challenge readers of all ages. I can easily recommend this volume. And I have a few other books about Matt I still plan on reading. It is an excellent little biography, the one that started it all, and story of faithfully living for God.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books about Matt Talbot:
Matt Talbot and His Times - Mary Purcell
Matt Talbot: His Struggle, His Victory over Alcoholism - Susan Helen Wallace 
Matt Talbot - Xavier Carty 
Spotlight on Matt Talbot  - Edward O'Connor, S.J.
Matt Talbot - Simon O'Brynne 
The quest for Matt Talbot - Philip Rooney 
We knew Matt Talbot - Albert H Dolan
Matt Talbot - James F. Cassidy. 
An address to Pope John Paul II from the Parish of Matt Talbot, The Worker. 
Matt Talbot : the Irish worker's glory - James Francis Cassidy 
Matt Talbot - Albon White 
The Story of Matt Talbot - Malachy Gerard Carroll

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