Thoughts for March 15 from Fr Willie Doyle

St Clement Mary Hofbauer

My intense desire and longing is to make others love Jesus and to draw them to His Sacred Heart. Recently at Mass I have found myself at the Dominus Vobiscum opening my arms wide with the intention of embracing every soul present and drawing them in spite of themselves into that Heart which longs for their love.

COMMENT: We cannot truly encourage others to love Jesus unless we love Him ourselves. Similarly, we know that we do not truly love Jesus unless we want others to know and love Him.

Fr Doyle was a most effective mission preacher and retreat master who longed to make Jesus known and loved. O’Rahilly reports that during some missions, Fr Doyle could be found at the docks at midnight searching out sailors arriving into port, urging them to come to the church and occasionally hearing their confessions on the spot. He could also be found the next day before 6.00am, searching out those on their way to work in factories. Fr Doyle was an indefatigable apostle, seeking out the lost sheep wherever they may be. We could do well to learn from his approach…

Fr Doyle’s efforts found much success. As he wrote once in a letter:

I have not met a single refusal to come to the mission or to confession so far during my missionary career. Why should there be one because Jesus for some mysterious reason seems to delight in using perhaps the most wretched of all His priests as the channel of His grace? When I go to see a hard hopeless case, I cannot describe what happens exactly, but I seem to be able to lift up my heart like a cup and pour grace and the love of God upon that poor soul. I can see the result instantly, almost like the melting of snow.

Today the Church commemorates St Clement Mary Hofbauer, the great Redemptorist preacher and Apostle of Vienna who died in 1820. As the bull of St Clement’s canonisation (1909) pointed out:

He used every effort to bring sinners to penance and confession…He sought this from God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the saints; to obtain this he afflicted his body.

Fr Doyle seems to have adopted a similar methodology. As O’Rahilly reports:

After an arduous day’s work in pulpit and confessional he would often spenda good part of the night before the Tabernacle, cutting his sleep down to three or four hours. Thus during a mission in Drogheda, the curate observed that Fr. Doyle, on emerging from his confessional at eleven o’clock at night, used to retire to the little oratory and remain on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament until the clock struck two; yet he was always up and out of the house before any one else was astir.

In applying these ideas to our own lives, perhaps we should consider the apostolic opportunities that present themselves to us every day. For many of us there will be several opportunities to discuss the faith or to defend the Church in conversations in friends and colleagues. And of course there is the permanent apostolate of good example that we can exercise all day everyday.

We should not absolve ourselves of our apostolic obligations, thinking it to be the job of others. Those of us who are lay people have an important role in this regard. Let us look to the example of Fr Doyle, St Clement and all of the other great apostles of the Church for examples of creativity and effectiveness in bringing the good news of salvation to others.

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