“No evil shall come upon you”, (Jerem. 23. 17). It is a consoling thought that God watches over us with unceasing care; that no matter where we may be – alone in our humble cell or passing through the crowded streets of the feverish panting city – the hand of God is over us and sheltering us from a thousand unknown dangers, guiding us safely along the path of life. Wicked men may plot evil things against us, all the hellish horde may rage in fury round us, but harm us they cannot without His consent who directs all things for His own wise ends.
COMMENT: How many times have we been saved from spiritual and physical dangers without our even knowing it? Do we show sufficient gratitude for these graces?
I have long had the feeling that, since the world is growing so rapidly worse and worse and God has lost His hold, as it were, upon the hearts of men, He is looking all the more earnestly and anxiously for big things from those who are faithful to Him still. He cannot, perhaps, gather a large army round His standard, but He wants everyone in it to be a hero, absolutely and lovingly devoted to Him. If only we could get inside that magic circle of generous souls, I believe there is no grace He would not give us to help on the work He has so much at heart, our personal sanctification. Every day you live means an infallible growth in holiness which may be multiplied a thousand times by a little generosity.
COMMENT: Yes, it seems to be true that, in the West at least, a smaller army is gathered around Christ than in the past. In fact, that army seems even smaller than when Fr Doyle wrote these words a century ago. Pope Benedict refers to this as a kind of creative minority. This means that there is an even greater need for those who adhere to Christ to strive to be a hero and to fulfil the role given to them. Complacency is no longer an option.
Fr Doyle himself fulfilled this mission throughout a life that stands as an example to us all 100 years later. By studying his writings, and reflecting on his personal example, we can learn how to fulfil our mission more effectively.
You need not fear whatever He may send you to bear, since His grace will come with it ; but you should always try to keep in mind your offering, living up to the spirit of it. Hence endeavour to see the hand of God in everything that happens to you now; e.g. if you rise in the morning with a headache, thank Him for sending it, since a victim is one who must be immolated and crucified. Again, look upon all humiliations and crosses, failure and disappointment in your work, in a word, everything that is hard, as His seal upon your offering, and rouse yourself to bear all cheerfully and lovingly, remembering that you are to be His “suffering love”.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle refers here to the practice of some rare individuals who offer themselves as so-called “victim souls”, willing to accept great sufferings in reparation for the sins of mankind. This is a path he himself followed, and the Lord accepted his sacrifice in the third battle of Ypres. Many canonised saints have followed this path.
As for the rest of us who are not called to such a life of suffering, there is still much to learn from Fr Doyle today, especially with respect to “offering up” little problems, frustrations and pains to God. This idea of offering things up was once very widespread, but has now been largely forgotten. In some mysterious way that we cannot understand, these offerings enrich the entire Church. As St Paul says: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24)
Seen in this way, the headaches of everyday life are too good an opportunity to waste.