Thoughts for July 12 from Fr Willie Doyle

Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St Therese of Lisieux

July 12: Feast of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St Therese of Lisieux

But remember the devil will spoil the work if he can and by every means in his power turn you from your life of immolation.

COMMENT: In today’s snippet, Fr Doyle reminds us that we are contending not only against our own weakness in the spiritual life, but that the devil also wishes to distract us from closer intimacy with God, and that he will use “every means in his power” to turn us aside. Lucifer was the most brilliant of the angels and he has many means in his power. Perhaps most of all, he will use the defects in our own characters, which he knows so well, to turn us from the path of virtue.

Today it is somewhat unfashionable to refer to the Enemy, but if we wish to remove him from our life of faith, we shall be forced to erase a lot of the Gospel as well. True, perhaps previous generations were too focussed on the issues of evil influences, but perhaps we have allowed the pendulum to swing far too much in the other direction in recent decades. If we prefer to ignore the existence of our Enemy, we surely give a major advantage to him.

The efforts of the Enemy should spur us on to greater efforts, not cause us to shrink with fear. In this regard, it may be worth quoting some lines from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius:

It is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.

Finally, on this the feast (which, incidentally, is their wedding anniversary) of the married couple Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin, let us pray for married couples and families, especially that they may remain strong against the temptations and efforts focused on weakening them.

Thoughts for July 11 from Fr Willie Doyle

"You will know them by their fruits"

I would strongly advise you not to read books treating of the mystical life unless you can get a good guide. You might be imagining yourself in a certain state when you are a thousand miles away from it. … Go on quietly, loving God and seeking to please Him, without trying to find out in what exact state of perfection your soul is.

COMMENT: In Fr Doyle’s time “books treating of the mystical life” were in abundance. The main aim of these books was to help souls pass through the various stages of perfection, allowing them to grow in greater intimacy with God. Christ’s demand that we “be perfect” like the Heavenly Father is not something that we just achieve in one day, but is rather the process of a lifetime. Like an athlete, there are various stages of spiritual fitness for us to pass through, each of which has its own challenges, temptations and consolations.

There are few enough modern books on this important topic, although two excellent recent ones spring to mind: “Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel and “The Fulfillment of All Desire” by Ralph Martin.

An excerpt from today’s Gospel from the Extraordinary Form of the Mass gives us some insight into the second part of Fr Doyle’s advice that we should go on quietly, loving God and seeking to please Him:

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Our job is to bear the fruit of our state in life. By producing this fruit, we please God. By remaining idle, or by attempting to produce some kind of different fruit that we might prefer ourselves, we fail to please the Lord.