Thoughts for July 21 from Fr Willie Doyle

St Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church

Feast of St Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Doctor of the Church

“I will give thee hidden treasures.” Isaiah 45. 3. Jesus has treasures which He hides from those who love Him not and do not seek Him. To His favoured ones, His faithful servants, He opens wide the storehouse where they lie and pours His graces forth unmeasured. He is a hidden God. He dwells not with the proud and haughty. He lingers not amid the tumult of the world.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle didn’t write these sentences about St Lawrence of Brindisi, but they are entirely apt for this feast. I’m not aware that Fr Doyle ever wrote about St Lawrence, but I imagine that he had some affection for him, for St Lawrence was himself a military chaplain, though not quite in the mode of Fr Doyle.

St Lawrence was a remarkable man with a stunning list of achievements. He was a first rate scholar with a command of numerous European and Biblical languages. He was a super-star preacher for who was surrounded by crowds eager to hear him preach (and snip off a piece of his beard or clothing as relics!). He was an advisor to Popes and was sent on delicate diplomatic missions on behalf of the papacy. He was an advisor to royalty throughout Europe. He was an inspirational military chaplain, largely responsible for military victories at a critical juncture in the history of Europe. He held, at one time or another, every office in the Capuchin order, including that of vicar-general (overall superior) and was the founder of several monasteries and convents. To top it all off, he was a renowned mystic and miracle worker.

Fr Doyle tells us today that Jesus has a storehouse of graces which he will pour out on those who love Him and seek Him. We see this in an extraordinary way in the life of St Lawrence. We also see it, albeit with less fireworks, in the life of Fr Doyle.

But we can also experience it in our own lives. We are unlikely to be called to extraordinary acts, but we are called to certain specific duties in life. The welfare and happiness of others depends on our fulfilling these duties properly. We are also called to be an example of vibrant, loving Christianity in our own environment. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Church is under so much pressure in the West, and specifically in Europe and especially in Ireland, is that many people have never actually met genuine, faithful Catholics who have strived to develop the human and supernatural virtues as they ought.

Such a task is not the work of a moment, but rather the challenge of a lifetime. We cannot do this without accessing that storehouse of graces. But we can be confident that Jesus will give us those hidden treasures of grace if we ask for them, and do not block their operation by our attachment to sin.

Thoughts for July 20 from Fr Willie Doyle

"He finds so few really generous souls". Agony in the Garden by Benvenuto di Giovanni c.1491

Life is only a day quickly passed and gone, but the merit of it, the glory given to God, will remain forever. Give Him all you can generously and lovingly, do not let one little sacrifice escape you, they are dear to Him because He finds so few really generous souls who think only of Him and never of themselves.

COMMENT: Perhaps the scenes from the Garden of Gethsemane can help us to reflect on generosity with God, versus thinking of ourselves…

Jesus, in great distress, brings his remaining 11 apostles to the garden with Him. He brings his three closest apostles further into the garden, and asks them to watch with Him.

While Jesus goes off to pray in great distress, what of the three close friends? They are asleep! When Jesus returns, he wakes them, but they soon fall back asleep. And the cycle repeats itself once more as they fall asleep a third time, leaving Jesus to weep and pray unaccompanied (by humans at least) in His great distress.

How often we “fall asleep” ourselves, how often we can lack generosity with the God who has given us everything. Perhaps it is negligence in our prayer or the avoidance of work or duties that we would rather not perform. Maybe it is failing to perform some act of kindness for another that we would be a little inconvenient for us. Each day provides lots of opportunities for generosity but we rarely take advantage of them as we should.

When the apostles slept, Jesus didn’t condemn them, but He did give specific advice to them, and it remains relevant for us today:

Could you not, then, watch one hour with me? Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We will not be able to be generous with God unless we pray for the grace to do so.

In conclusion, let us remember that not everyone was asleep that night. Judas remained wide awake, and was busy going about his business…