Thoughts for November 21 from Fr Willie Doyle

"I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

Remember the devil is a bad spiritual director, and you may always recognise his apparently good suggestions by the disturbances they cause in the soul. Our Lord would never urge you to turn away from a path which is leading you nearer to Himself, nor frighten you with the prospect of future unbearable trials. If they do come, grace will come also and make you abound with joy in all your tribulations.

COMMENT: Many spiritual writers echo the words of Fr Doyle in today’s quote. St Ignatius speaks of consolations and desolations; the former coming from God and the latter from the enemy. The devil wishes to disturb our soul, injecting fears and scruples and anxiety and a distaste for spiritual things. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, wishes to give us peace. It’s not for nothing that the risen Christ always spoke of peace when He appeared to His disciples.

We live in an anxious age. Those of us who live in Europe can see anxiety all around in the current economic turmoil. Ultimately this anxiety is self-perpetuating – it feeds the lack of confidence that leads to further anxiety and further problems and so on in a vicious cycle.

Yet despite the anxiety of this age, we in the West actually live in a very comfortable period compared to most. Few if any of us will ever experience the fear, cold, deprivation and constant presence of death that Fr Doyle did for almost two years in the trenches. Fr Doyle was not an innately heroic man. He suffered from ill health quite a lot in his life. At one stage during his seminary days he suffered what Alfred O’Rahilly describes as “a complete nervous breakdown”  and had to leave the novitiate for a while.  Some doctors even said that he was ill-equipped for the religious life. As one soldier said of him, he had all of the inherent characteristics of a coward. But Fr Doyle didn’t rely on himself and his own powers. He abounded with joy in all of his tribulations because he relied on God who never abandons His followers.

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, he promised to be with his disciples to the end of time. That was true almost two thousand years ago; it was true almost 100 years ago in the trenches and it remains true today.

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