What I look upon as a grace was told to me yesterday. A little child speaking of the missioners here said: ‘I like Fr Doyle best because he is holy’. The words cut me like a knife and wound round and round my soul till I could have cried with the pain of it. And this because of the loving compassion of Jesus who covers over my wretched faults and failings and magnifies in people’s eyes the tiny good I do, misleading them when He cannot deceive me; and then because that little sentence contained a lifetime of pleading on the part of Jesus for holiness from me as an infallible means of drawing souls to Him. As long as I can remember He has kept that one idea before me; it is ever ringing in my ear; it comes to me at times with overpowering force, but never with such a thunderclap as when He sent an innocent child to tell me what he has said so often, that it is not learning or eloquence or any other natural gift which will do His work, but that holiness alone will open the way to every heart and lead all captive to His feet.
COMMENT: How often children can see things that we do not; how direct they can be in telling us what they see!
Fr Doyle emphasises for us the necessity of holiness in order to serve God effectively. This necessity is borne out in the lives of so many of the saints who managed to do more work, with greater effectiveness and less time and resources than seems humanly possible. If we serve God with holiness he will bless our efforts abundantly. Perhaps there are lessons for us here when we consider the decline of the Church in various western countries…
This little child was not the only one to be touched by Fr Doyle’s holiness. Dozens of examples could be presented, but the following extra example will suffice. It comes from the letter of a soldier who met Fr Doyle in the war:
You need not worry any longer about my soul. I came across a Jesuit, a Fr Willie Doyle, out here, and he settled up my accounts with the Lord. Fr Doyle is a splendid fellow. He is so brave and cheery. He has a wonderful influence over others and can do what he likes with the men. I was out the other evening with a brother officer, and met him. After a few words I said: ‘This is a pal of mine, Padre; he is a Protestant, but I think he would like your blessing.’ Fr Doyle looked at my chum for a moment with a smile and then made the sign of the cross on his forehead. When he had passed on, my pal said: ‘That is a holy man. Did you see the way he looked at me? It went right through me. And when he crossed my forehead I felt such an extraordinary sensation.’
Whatever about children, it is hard to fool soldiers hardened by war, especially when they are of a different faith.
Let us persevere in our Lenten observances so that we too can grow in holiness and serve the Lord with ever greater apostolic effectiveness!