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Title: To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety 

Author: Philip Maynard 

ISBN: 0-8189-0843-2 
Paperback: xxiv + 184 pp. 
Price: $12.95 + shipping 


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It is said that Matt Talbot was an alcoholic by the time he reached his teens. He lived to drink. But all that changed one day when he was 28. He was broke; his weekly paycheck had already been passed to the bartender. He stood outside the pub for several hours, waiting for one of his friends to invite him in. No one did. He went home and told his mother: "I'm taking the pledge," to which she replied, "Don't take it if you can't keep it." With no A.A., no sponsor, no weekly meetings to attend, he had to rely on God alone. He found a way to sobriety that not only enabled him to give up drinking from that time on, but led him to adopt a way of life such that, at his death in 1925, word of his holiness spread throughout Ireland and his cause for canonization was begun almost immediately. He was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1975. This is his story and his method. It has been set forth here to provide an answer to those for whom other programs have not worked or who have been looking for a way that addressed more specifically their own most deeply felt spiritual needs. 
 
More than being just a "born Catholic," Philip Maynard has had the unique experience of growing up in a home in which his father, Theodore Maynard, and his mother, Sara, wrote many lives of the saints. It was only natural that these heroes of the Church should become his heroes in a special way. Later, he was able to overcome alcoholism only by turning to the example of Matt Talbot, the Irishman who is a hero to many reformed alcoholics and himself now a candidate for sainthood. Maynard is a lawyer who writes on estate planning matters. He lives in Baltimore with his wife Agnes, and his two sons, Kevin and Peter. 

Reviews

"Maynard has reduced the life of Matt Talbot (an alcoholic Irish Catholic who died in 1925) to its essence, evolving from it a program that he calls the Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety. In a word, 'the way' is to develop through a life of prayer and good works a relationship with Jesus Christ, finding in him the one whose living water quenches thirst. Befriending Christ gives a positive motivation to quit drinking. It worked for Talbot, whose life was transformed by the love of Christ to the point of great personal holiness; he has been declared 'venerable' by the Church. it also worked for the author, who himself stopped drinking, and for countless other alcoholics. 'Rather than passively praying to God to stop you from drinking,' writes Maynard, 'you actively reach out and take what God has been offering you all along. What you take is not sobriety, but rather the love of Christ.' The path requires seven daily steps: a daily offering, dedication of prayers of the day, Christ-centered prayer (such as the Jesus pryaer), spiritual reading, short prayers during the day, evening prayer, and Christian living. The same tenets can be applied to other compulsive behaviors whether overeating or drug abuse. This well-written book may help persons who have tried AA or Rational Recovery without success, but who still want to stop drinking. A handbook, it is also a primer in prayer." --Karen Sue Smith in Church, Winter 2001

"The Church honors All Saints on November 1st as models of virtue that we can emulate, not worship. Anyone dealing with alcoholism or another addiction might find a soulmate in the 20th century Irish saint, Matt Talbot. This modern saint, who lived a life of drunkenness in Dublin pubs until the day he chose Christ over the bottle, is profiled in the book To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety. Different from Alcoholics Anonymous, the 'Matt Talbot' way shows another path to beat addictions by making Christ the center of each day. It may not work for everyone, the author says, but it is another way to strengthen one's spiritual as well as physical health." --Catholic Extension Magazine, November 2001

"I must confess I knew little if anything about Matt Talbot until one of his devotees, Philip Maynard, a Baltimore lawyer and estate planning expert, brought him to my attention in a book he has just written that should be a great boon to any Christian preparing to do battle with demon rum. Matt Talbot, an Irish layman known as 'the saint in overalls,' and an active candidate for beatification any time now, is regarded as a special example for reformed alcoholics, and it was through his unique Christ-centered approach that Mr. Maynard found his own path to recovery from alcoholism. Mr. Maynard's book is a do-it-yourself manual that, its author says, should be followed step by step, but he cautions it is not necessarily for all alcoholics or drug addicts.... Down and out at age 28 after 15 years of steady, hard drinking, Matt Talbot finally decided he had to quit, and even though he wasn't the most devout or knowledgeable of Catholics, he knew somehow he needed to draw on his faith if he were going to kick his destructive habit.... At first, Matt took the pledge for three months, then for a year, and finally for life. He began a life of prayer and penance that continued until his death.... The Matt Talbot way to sobriety that Mr. Maynard has constructed doesn't require the severe penance the Irish dock worker imposed on himself, but it does persuasively call for a kind of spiritual self-discipline and consistency that Mr. Maynard, calling on his own life experience, believes is essential to recovery. Few of us are untouched by alcoholism and its tragic effects in some way, either personally or through family members or friends. Mr. Maynard's book could make a break-through difference in many lives." --Christopher Gaul in the Baltimore Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Review, December 21, 2000

"I have taken some time to read through your book and I am very impressed. I now understand why the Matt Talbot Way is different from other ways.... I like very much the positive and profoundly particular spiritual approach that you are taking. In fact in parts of the book, you are describing a spirituality that is very serious and mature. I can imagine how attractive many people would find such an approach. May God use [your book] as an instrument to help many many people draw closer to Him and to cooperate with the grace that is offered to all of us. may this espcially be true for people who find themselves caught in particular attachments." --George Aschenbreunner, S.J., Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, PA

"Spirituality: Some fine advice on prayer, one among many unexpected 'finds' in a new book by Baltimore-based attorney Philip Maynard. Title: To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety. Himself a recovering alcoholic, the author brings experience and observations, touching on various tasks, e.g., 'Getting Started' and 'Spiritual Motivation.' Part Two looks at the life of Matt Talbot. Of note: The third section examines how the same principles useful in attaining and maintaining sobriety can be used to control weight and cigarette use." -- Crux of the News, December 11, 2000

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