July 14: The feast of St Camillus de Lellis
The object of my life to be close union with and intense love of God. To acquire this I will (a) fly from the shadow of sin, never deliberately break a rule, custom or regulation; (b) do each little action purely for the love of Jesus, with exquisite exactness, fervour and devotedness; (c) beg constantly and earnestly for a great increase of love.
COMMENT: Today’s quote comes from some of the resolutions Fr Doyle made after the 30 days of spiritual exercises he did in 1907. As usual, there is much here that we can learn from.
Flying from the shadow of sin, or, put another way, avoiding occasions of sin, is an important element of the spiritual life. How often we can make compromises by going to places (real, online or imaginary), meeting with people or practicing those habits that we know will lead us into temptation or distraction. Unless we make concerted effort, relying on grace, we will never win the battle for greater virtue.
Today’s saint, Camillus de Lellis, was a dissipated, violent man who lived as a mercenary soldier with a propensity for gambling (and literally losing the shirt off his back in the process). His conversion necessitated that he avoid the company, and habits, that lead him into gambling and fighting. Quite coincidentally (or providentially?) I stumbled on the following quote of St Camillus after I had already written the rest of this post but before putting it online. Apparently St Camillus used to teach that we should aim “not to be satisfied with avoiding sin, but to avoid even the least shadow and risk of sin.” Even in the use of language he was at one with Fr Doyle.
Incidentally, St Camillus’ heart is currently in Ireland to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Camillians in this country. You may read more about St Camillus here and watch a television news report about the visit here (you may have to click on the story on the right hand side of the page): http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0710/6news_av.html?2785463,null,230
But back to Fr Doyle. The second part of his advice today is characteristic of him: do “each little action purely for the love of Jesus, with exquisite exactness, fervour and devotedness”. Dedication to duty, day after day, even when we don’t feel like it, requires great virtue. Faithfully doing our work on time, to the best of our abilities, will be for many people a great penance. But the key is doing this work for the love of God, not just to make more money or to win a promotion. Examining our faithfulness to duty can be a fruitful aspect of our daily examination of conscience.