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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Sold My Shoes

Our situation here is not good, so I'm only up for a few soft balls, when indeed we have some corkscrews and spitballs waiting in the wings. This person is looking for a patron saint for a chronic and worsening burden. When I'm ancient and babbling, I'll be babbling about who is the patron saint for what.

I'm not asking for the burden to go away, but I'd just like to know if there was a particular patron Saint for people who just need to borrow a little strength so they can carry on - like a New Testament version of Samson or something?

You could try asking for the burden to go away. I'd pick a person who is awaiting a miracle for their canonization and ask for their intercession. What's the downside? I'm partial to the Blessed Brother Andre, late of Montreal, a believer in miracles himself, and to Venerable Matt Talbot, the fantastically amazing drunk who turned his own life around on a dime (although he did have trouble giving up smoking, as he lived before the day of the nicotene patch, acupunture and hypnosis).

I can't remember if I've told you about Matt Talbot before, so bear with me if I repeat myself. I've been hanging around with even more amazingly old people than usual and I'm picking up their habits. I'm beginning to like mushy food, for example. I'm also driving very slowly for no reason.

Matt Talbot was an Irishman with a bunch of brothers and a saintly mother. He started drinking at age 12. He became a roaring drunk. He drank away his paycheck every week. He sold his shoes for booze.

(My old friend Sister Mary Arthen, nee Flossie, used to sing a little ditty that went "I sold my shoes....for a bottle of booze" whenever she played the Adagio from
Beethoven's Pathetique. There's a part of that where those words fit perfectly.)

Finally, after a pathetic afternoon of standing outside the bar begging for someone to buy him a beer (and being ignored because everyone was so sick of buying him beer) he slumped home to his saintly mother and told her he was going to give up the sauce. She warned him that it would be very difficult. HIs struggle was horrendous. He always said that losing the cigarettes was much worse.

Mr. Talbot lived a long life and helped many other people get on the wagon. He died one day walking to Mass, dropped dead in the street.

I thought I read somewhere that his guidelines formed the basis of what we now know as AA, but I always thought AA was someone else's idea. I'll have to look that up. I do know that there are places called "Matt Talbot House" all around the world. I'll bet the people at the Matt Talbot Houses smoke like stacks and drink coffee like it's going out of style, if you know what I mean.

And I also know that he is patiently waiting for his miracles. Clearly the man had strength to deal with a chronic problem. This is where you come in!

If that doesn't float your boat, you can go for the Archangel Gabriel. The name Gabriel means "Strength of God". Works for me!


Anonymous said...

They smoke a lot at AA meetings too, and you are right Bill and Dr. Bob started AA. However, that is not to say that Mike Talbot didn't contribute his wisdom to recovering alcoholics!

bill7tx said...

Sister, I'm going to break my promise just long enough to say how sorry I am to hear that your situation is not good. I'm making a guess about what that means, and I'm keeping you and your mother in my prayers.

RadioPie said...

I always thought Brother Andre was the guy who taught guitar lessons on Wednesday nights in the "Brother Andre" room in my church's basement. (Which doesn't make any sense, because it's not like Blessed Kateri lives in our "Blessed Kateri" room...)

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that you're having a hard time right now, Sister Mary Martha. I'll pray for you!

Anonymous said...

Not many people know of Sister Ignatia, a Sister of Charity of St. Augustine. She played a big role in the beginnings of AA.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure if this is the place to ask questions, but here it goes. Could you please tell me the relationship of the Byzantine Rite and the Roman Rite within the Catholic Church? This is causing much drama in my family.

Thank you

Sarah - Kala said...

Anon. Go to Daniellebean.com and scroll down on her site to read comments about family members who aren't practicing Catholicism, aren't Catholic at all, putting up with rude comments about the Faith. IN the commens there are those who say that the Byzantine Rite is just more elaborate that the Roman Rite, BUT IS LIGIT. The Church has many approved Rites.


Anonymous said...

I know Danielle Bean from some board or another.
The Byzantine Rite is the liturgy of one of the Eastern Churches that has come back under the authority of the Pope. I believe it looks very much like the Greek Orthodox Church, with lots of icons, the priest consecrating the Eucharist behind a screen, and the Eucharist being distributed by means of a spoon. I am not sure if the liturgy of the Mass is identical to Greek Orthodox, but I know it is different than the Latin Rite Mass (which would be the Mass performed in the vast majority of US Catholic parishes.) They have some differences that are allowed because it's just the way they've done things, including consecrating married men as priests, using leavened bread for communion, and giving first communion to babies.

You can get a pretty good overview of the Eastern Catholic Rites at Wikipedia:


Anonymous said...

I wanted to add: Eastern Catholics ARE Catholics, every bit as much as Sister Mary Martha, myself, etc. If you watched any of the Pope's funeral and/or election, you may have noticed that there were some guys in the group of cardinals who were dressed very differently from the majority of the cardinals, often with funky ornate hats and robes and stuff, looking like Eastern Orthodox clerics. Those were the Eastern Rite bishops. Any one of them could have been elected Pope.

A Eastern Rite Catholic in a city with only Latin Rite parishes is expected to attend Latin Rite Mass, and vice versa, of course. They're absolutely, 100% in communion with Rome. They *are* Catholic.

Anonymous said...

God's Grace and Mercy to you Sister.

Tienne said...

Prayers for your situation, Sister.

Sarah - Kala said...

Thanks, Married2ajoseph for adding all that. I'm too lazy to cut/paste links etc.. Maybe I shouldn't be, but then again, I think sending our readers to Danielle's site is good, because she also is an excellent source for Catholics - especially parents!

God bless,
Ave Maria!

Kate J said...

Have been concerned for your situation and said prayers, lit a candle at church. Have been perusing the archives in your absence! Please know that we care and are praying for the best. Wish we could relieve the burden somehow.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Sister,

A new question for you:

I just heard (pretty vaguely) about the practice of parents blessing their children a little while back. It sounded good, and I wanted to give it a shot with my kids, but this is new territory for my wife and me and I wanted to learn more. Any thoughts or pointers on this subject?

Many thanks,


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question despite your own difficulties. I'll pray that Brother Andre helps you - as he's certainly helped me. Somehow I feel renewed strength, though I had been just about ready to buckle under.

I suppose I should also say a prayer for the blessed and venerated who have been responsible for the AA, particularly that prayer asking for grace to accept the things we cannot change.

Bless you!

Lola said...

Thank you for talking about Matt Talbot, I've asked him many times to help a few people close to me. And I can assure you one of them kicked the smoking habit. I really should buy a couple of "church key" medals from your on-line store for birthday presents.

Could you please someday write about all the wonderful people who were porters and low men on the "totem" pole in their communities that struck it rich in the Church? Bro. Andre, Fr. Solanus, Sr. Faustina etc. I think it has something to do with Humility. I really could use some insight into THAT virtue.

BTW I've discovered the joys of pew dusting. Wednesday mornings.

God Bless you Sister and have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

I just thought I should share how Brother Andre helped me. Though its not the kind of miracle that could be used to advance the cause for his sainthood, it was a miracle to me nontheless :)

It concerns my mother. I've tried to honor her as best as I could but pretty much for most of my life her undiagnosed emotional problems have made that extremely difficult. I've since moved away (really far away) to start my own family but every time I call and check up on her...what can I say? It's like opening Pandora's box and all sorts of nasty things start flying out. I've tried to make sense of the anguish I feel, why I have nightmares after each conversation but so far no luck.

I'd begun to truly dread each time I dialled long distance to the point that I would get heart palpitations despite my low blood pressure. The last time was so bad that I considered ending all contact, just as the rest of my family had done. It was a really low point and without Brother Andre's intercession I believe I would have given up.

Last night I called again after several weeks but not before asking Brother Andre for help. As my mother began to speak, I noticed that the volume got softer and softer as though she were speaking from a great distance. I could barely hear her despite the fact that her voice had risen considerably from increased agitation. I suppose I could blame it on the wireless, but after about ten minutes she abruptly ended the call because someone was knocking on the door.

It sounds rather comic, but last night was the first time I could laugh (or at least have a big wide smile) about my situation with my mother. And what a relief to not be plagued by nightmares afterwards! For me, it seems nothing short of miraculous.

Anonymous said...

As far as AA and Matt Talbot go: Matt apparently found the "STEPS" of Alcoholics Anonymous before the steps were established. For me, this is more proof that the 12 Steps and the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, are Divinely inspired. From what I gather, Matt followed his conscience and was lead by God. I don't think it is a coincidence that the 12 Steps and Matt Talbots path mirror eachother-though I seriosly doubt either party heard of the other.

Anonymous said...

by any change do you know the name of "i sold my shoes for a bottle of booze" my grandfather would sing that and I would love to hear it again.

Thanks and God Bless