The great defect in my character and chief reason why I make so little progress is my want of fidelity. Thus in the past eighteen months I have not marked the ejaculations and acts of self-denial over three hundred times.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle refers here to his tendency of keeping meticulous records about numerous aspects of his spiritual life. Many saints, especially Jesuits, kept detailed spiritual records in order to review their progress day by day and to ensure that they were aware of any slippage in their acts of devotion. Fr Doyle was generally very conscientious in keeping his “spiritual accounts” up to date.
It is consoling to read about this period of time in which Fr Doyle did not keep his records up to date so often, presumably due to being busy or overwhelmed with others tasks (and it is especially helpful to me as it eases my guilt about those days when the normal duties of work and family life prevent me from keeping the website up to date!).
The key issue that we might consider in today’s quote is that of fidelity. Fr Doyle is correct – we will not make progress unless we are faithful to our resolutions. We see this in so many areas of our life. We will not advance in study unless we are faithful in our work; we will not become fitter unless we remain faithful to our physical exercises. The same principle holds true for our spiritual life. We must strive to remain faithful to our resolutions. However, there will inevitably be times when we fail and when we lack fidelity. In such a situation we don’t give into discouragement which is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. Rather, we pick ourselves up and start again.
We are now over one third of the way through Lent. Have we been faithful to our resolutions? If not, it doesn’t mean that we just give up – we still have about two thirds of Lent left. This is plenty of time for us to show our fidelity and in that process to grow in holiness.