August 12: Feast of Blessed Karl Leisner
We will return to some reflections on the life of Fr Doyle in a few days time when we approach the anniversary of his death. Incidentally, there is some dispute about the date of Fr Doyle’s death; some sources give it is August 16, others on August 17. I have also encountered some sources listing it as August 15, but these are very much in the minority. These doubts about the precise date of death are unsurprising given the confusion and turmoil of life on the battlefield. If anyone has insights on the precise date of Fr Doyle’s death, and their sources for it, please let us know.
For now, however, we shall have one of Fr Doyle’s thoughts.
‘What is it to thee? Follow thou Me’ (John 21: 22). This thought came to me: I am not to take the lives of others in the house as the standard of my own, what may be lawful for them is not for me; their life is most pleasing to God, such a life for me would not be so; God wants something higher, nobler, more generous from me, and for this will offer me special graces.
COMMENT: Here Fr Doyle touches on an important truth, and an interesting aspect of his life and spirituality.
How tempting it is for us to allow the social norms we perceive around us to determine our behaviour. So often we can rationalise away our sins or our mediocrity with the thought that “everybody is doing it”. But we must not take “everybody” as the standard of our behaviour. Our standard must be Christ, and he has a definite plan for each of us. We know that He desires our perfection and holiness, but this will mean different things for different people. For Fr Doyle it meant an austere and mortified life. The legitimate luxuries that were permitted to others were not God’s will for Fr Doyle.
Knowing the temptation that we have to base our standards on the behaviour of others, we ourselves should live in such a way to encourage and edify those we live with. There was much wisdom in the old notion of “avoiding scandal”.
Today is also the feast of Blessed Karl Leisner, a martyr of the Nazi Holocaust who lived his faith despite the compromises with Nazism he saw around him, even at the cost of his freedom, and ultimately his life. Movingly, he managed to be ordained while in the concentration camp, dying from TB soon after celebrating his first Mass.
Blessed Karl Leisner, pray for us, that we may follow the gospel, and resist the seductions of prevailing opinion.