Lent begins in 4 weeks. It is unusually late this year; in fact it falls on the second latest date possible. It will be 2038 before it falls on April 25, the latest possible date.
Despite Ash Wednesday being 4 weeks away, it is not too early to start thinking about preparping for Lent. Traditionally, as Catholics we make a concerted effort to deepen our spiritual lives. Central to this is engaging in spiritual reading, a practice recommended by all of the great spiritual writers.
I can think of no better book to read during the holy season of Lent than Professor Alfred O’Rahilly’s biography of Fr Doyle. It is a masterpiece on many levels – a psychologically astute review of Fr Doyle’s character, a wonderful history of World War I that reads like a novel and a remarkable overview of Catholic spirituality. Far from being a mere work of hagiography in the mode of the “Golden Legend”, O’Rahilly’s biography of Fr Doyle gives a rounded insight into one of the most incredible men of the twentieth century. If you have an interest in Fr Doyle, if you have an interest in Catholic spirituality, if you have an interest in military history you will love this book. And in loving this book, you will learn to love Fr Doyle.
O’Rahilly’s biography was translated in numerous European languages and has inspired many individuals (including canonised saints…) over the poast 90 years.
I know that some people have read the anonymous biography Merry in God (which was probably written by Fr Doyle’s brother). Merry in God is an excellent book, but it is really only a summary of O’Rahilly.
One of the great things about the biography is the access that O’Rahilly had to Fr Doyle’s private notes and diaries. Fr Doyle wasn’t born great, but he acquired greatness by slow, steady effort. O’Rahilly maps out this process with through Fr Doyle’s own intimate thoughts and resolutions. That’s what makes this book so powerful. I do not know of anybody who has read this book without being deeply moved and spiritually enriched.
High quality and newly typeset reprints of the 2nd edition of O’Rahilly can be purchased by clicking on the link below. Later editions have some more detail and are somewhat longer (the 5th edition is about 200 pages longer), but they are generally not available in reprint format as far as I know and they can only be found in second hand book stores and occasionally online. If the book is ordered now, it will probably arrive in time for Lent.
(Please note: This website is not in any way connected with the sale of the book and does not profit in any way by it. My interest is only in promoting awareness of Fr Doyle).