Thoughts for June 29 from Fr Willie Doyle

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) on the right, on his ordination day 60 years ago. On his left is Georg Ratzinger, his brother, also ordained on the same day

Feast of St Peter and St Paul

Jesus during His mortal life practised many virtues; but none is more conspicuous, none appeals more strongly to us, than His infinite mercy, His tender forgiveness of all injuries. A vile sinner is brought before Him, her very mien proclaims her crime. “Have none condemned thee? Neither shall I. Go, sin no more.” Magdalen, the bye-word of the city, Magdalen whose name was sin and shame, seeks His forgiveness and finds His mercy. Peter, the favoured one, denies his Master and turns his back on Him who loved him so; and Peter’s heart is won, even in his sin, by one loving look of mercy and compassion from the Saviour whose mercy is without end.

COMMENT:  The denial of St Peter, and Christ’s subsequent forgiveness, was a frequent theme in Fr Doyle’s notes. The image of a favoured apostle denying his Master seemed to resonate with deeply with him.

As for St Paul, Fr Doyle doesn’t seem to write much about him directly, although he obviously quotes him frequently in his letters. Fr Doyle resembles St Paul in his great missionary zeal. Just as Paul underwent shipwreck and imprisonment and deprivation to bring the Gospel to others, Fr Doyle underwent life in the trenches, and all of its dangers, to bring the sacraments to others.

Peter, Paul and Fr Doyle could all have stayed at home and lived relatively comfortable, safe lives. But they sacrificed this comfort because of their love of Christ, offering their own lives in the process.

On this day we should remember in our prayers the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. He too, could have comfortably stayed at home. He was looking forward to a happy retirement with his “friends” – his books. But the Lord had other plans, and Pope Benedict, a “humble servant in the vineyard of the Lord” complied. We pray especially for him on this 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, and we give thanks to God for blessing the Church with such a wise, prudent and holy pope in this difficult time.

The ordination card of Fr Joseph Ratzinger

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