Real devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is only to be gained by hard, grinding work of dry adoration before the Hidden God. But such a treasure cannot be purchased at too great a cost, for once obtained, it makes of this life as near an approach to heaven as we can ever hope for.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle shows us that the encounter with Christ in prayer is not primarily emotional, but rather a matter of the will, involving “hard, grinding work”. The spiritual consolations of prayer may be pleasant, but it is the hard work of coping with spiritual dryness that shows our true devotion and that yields the most graces. It separates those who truly seek God from those who merely seek their own pleasant feelings. If we receive spiritual consolations, then great, let us be thankful for their support. But let us not imagine that our prayer is useless if we do not receive these sensible graces.
It was this hard, grinding work at prayer (and indeed in all aspects of his life) that prepared Fr Doyle to willingly suffer the deprivation of the trenches and to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life while serving others.
I recently read (on the always excellent Vultus Christi blog) a wonderful quote from Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (1614-1698), foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, which is relevant for today’s topic.
The interior life is not what one thinks or imagines. It consists not in having beautiful thoughts, nor in saying beautiful words, nor in remaining in a passive kind of prayer without applying one’s mind, as if one were in lofty heights. All of this is, more often than not, no more than fantasy.
The interior life is found in the solid practice of mortification, in the love of littleness and in total detachment from oneself and from creatures.
May we all seek to love the Lord through this tried and tested manner, whether we feel like it or not.