I have come back from the missions with feelings of joy and gratitude, for these last three missions have been blessed in a wonderful way. God seems to take a special delight in seconding my efforts, just because I have hurt Him so much in the past and have been so really ungrateful. It is one of the big humiliations of my life and makes me thoroughly ashamed of myself that our Blessed Lord for His own wise ends conceals my shortcomings from others and allows me to do a little good. But He does not hide the wretched state of my soul from myself. I am not speaking in a false humble strain, but serious truth. If you, or anyone else, could only see the way I have acted towards Jesus all my life, you would turn away from me in disgust.
I have had much consolation in my work recently. The last mission was the hardest I have given, yet it seems to have been singularly blessed. All this love and goodness on the part of Jesus only fills me with a deep sorrow that I can do so little for Him. I am getting afraid of Him, just because He is so generous to me and blesses all I do. I feel ashamed when people praise me for my work, the sort of shame a piano might feel if someone complimented it on the beautiful melody that came from its keys. I am realizing more and more that all success is entirely God’s work, and that self does not count at all. I have this strange feeling that when I get to heaven I shall have little merit for anything I have done for God’s glory, since all has been the work of His Hands.
COMMENT: One of the very hardest things that we must accept in our life of faith is our own inability to do good apart from God’s grace. So often we start out with grand plans of what we will do for God. But time, and many failings, teach us that really the spiritual life is largely about what God will do for us. Without Him we are nothing.
Fr Doyle recognised that he was just the tool in God’s hands and was always aware of his own sinfulness and likelihood to fail.
But this reliance of God should not lead us into some form of apathy or quietism. We rely on grace, so we must want that grace and we must strive to obtain that grace in order that we may more fully imitate, and serve, the Lord.
How? Through prayer, mortification, sacrifices, the struggle to acquire virtue and detachment from the things of this world. As St Paul says: “Train yourselves in godliness”.
And when we receive the grace, we must use it, relying on it to perform good works. The work and service we undertake may still be hard, but with God’s grace we can accomplish it.
This was the secret of the saints. This was the secret of Fr Doyle. The heroism of the trenches is simply inexplicable apart from God’s grace, and lots of it.
We shall finish today with a quote from Scuploi’s Spiritual Combat:
Think first upon thine own weakness, next turn, full of self-distrust, to the wisdom, the power and the goodness of God; and in reliance on these, resolve to fight generously