Our Lady of Good Counsel and Matthew Talbot, July 28 - August 5, 2000

General Intention: For all those pushed to the edges of human societies.

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Fourth Work of Justice and Peace: Protect the poor and powerless -- listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.

Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Most Glorious Virgin Mary, you were chosen by the eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh. You know that our thoughts on earth are sometimes full of fear and uncertainty. Send us the gift of counsel to teach us how to discern God's will and to guide us in all we do.

Matthew Talbot, you were born into poverty, among a marginalized people, and you went right to the edge as an alcoholic. See the violence, despair, alienation and oppression that afflicts this world as the strong prey upon the weak and powerless. We pray that your example of solidarity with the poor will be an inspiration for many to follow your holy example, and open their hearts, their minds, and their homes in hospitality and welcome. Amen.

Thoughts for the journey during the Jubile Holy Year 2000.

See how Our Lady carefully guides the steps of her Son. What advice did she give to the servants at the wedding at Cana? "Do whatever he tells you." We recall that this includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, challenging unjust structures, speaking out against oppression and hypocrisy, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Matthew Talbot was born in a slum in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, and died in the same town in 1925. Along the way, in his youth, he became a confirmed alcoholic. By the grace of God, however, he experienced a true and lasting religious conversion, and spent his life among the poor, practicing evangelical poverty, working at labor jobs and giving most of his money as alms to the poor and for the benefit of missions. He helped many people find sobriety. His entire life was an evangelical witness to the power of the Gospel to transform the most alienated and to bring new life to community in the midst of despair.

His life reminds us of the precarious place of those we push to the edge. Often they fall off, into the abyss. They are all around us, but we don't notice them because they are really good at hiding from us. In their experience, to be noticed is to be abused, hurt, wounded. Their defenders are few, their enemies are many. Today there is little respect and not much protection for the poor. We restrict their economic rights and covet their neighborhoods for the building of shopping centers, malls, ballparks, and entertainment centers. Through the example of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we learn to open our eyes and hearts to see the poor who are among us, and stop doing harm to them.

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