Thoughts for March 31 from Fr Willie Doyle

I am writing in great desolation and sadness, tempted even to abandon my vocation and plunge headlong into sin. All this is the result of having given in to myself, broken my resolutions and indulged myself in every way. Oh, my God, what am I to do? I made a fresh start with great generosity and determination, and in three days was worse than ever. I see my deadly enemy is my weak character and inconstant will, which I have made worse by years of yielding to it. My Jesus, I am humbled and crushed. Is there any use trying more? Every effort means a new failure and disappointment to You; and still I feel You urging me on to nobler things, to begin again. 

COMMENT: Fr Doyle’s quote today is quite revealing about his own spiritual struggles. At one point he was even tempted to abandon God and his vocation! There is much we can learn from this… 

Lent is almost at an end. Holy Week will begin tomorrow.

Perhaps, after 5 weeks of Lent, we feel somewhat like Fr Doyle. Perhaps we have broken our resolutions. Perhaps we have squandered many opportunities for growing in holiness and preparing ourselves well for the celebration of Holy Week and Easter. Perhaps, also like Fr Doyle, we have already repented of our unfaithfulness to our resolutions, only to once again give up, ending up worse than we originally were. 

Never mind! There is still time. As Fr Doyle tells us, we are urged towards nobler things, we are urged to begin again. This was the practice of all the saints. This is the path we must follow.

 

The Fourteenth Station of the Cross by Fr Willie Doyle

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus of laid in the tomb

The final scene of the awful tragedy is drawing to a close. Reverently the faithful few bear the dead Christ down the hill of shame, that body from which all the care of loving hands cannot remove the marks of the cruel scourge, the rending nails, the lance’s gaping thrust. Into the tomb they bear Him, the burial place of a stranger, best suited to Him Who during His life had not where to lay His head. Reverently they lay Him down; one last, fond embrace of His own Mother before they lead her hence, and then in silence and in sorrow they leave Him, their dearest Master, to the watchful care of God’s own angels. Sin has done its work! Sin has triumphed, but its very triumph will prove its own undoing.

The Thirteenth Station of the Cross by Fr Willie Doyle

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the arms of His Mother

Mary stands at the foot of the cross to receive in her arms the lifeless body of her Son. Once more His head is resting on her bosom as it used to do long years ago when a little child He nestled to His Mother#s breast. But now that sacred head is bruised and swollen, stamped with the cruel mark of the mocking diadem; His hair all clotted with the oozing blood, tangled and in disorder. Even she, upon whose heart is stamped every lineament of her Son’s dear face, can scarcely recognise His features now. On every line is marked the anguish of long drawn agony, of torture and agonizing pain, of woe, unutterable woe, of sorrow, suffering and abandonment.

The Twelfth Station of the Cross by Fr Willie Doyle

The Twelfth Station of the Cross: Jesus dies on the cross

Upon the cross He hangs now, the most abject and despised of all men, the butt for vile jests, a common mark for all to hurl their jibes at. There He hangs, in agony no human lips can tell, no mind conceive, an impostor, a vile hypocrite, a failure. “He came to make Himself a King! See, we have crowned His brow with a royal, sparkling diadem. He sought a kingdom! From that elevated throne let Him look upon the land which will never be His now. He threatened our Scribes with woes and punishments, let Him look to His own fate and if He has that power which some say was His, let Him come down now from the cross and we too shall believe in His word.”

The Eleventh Station of the Cross by Fr Willie Doyle

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Upon His last resting place Jesus lays Himself down. No soft bed, no easy couch to ease the agony of His aching limbs, but a hard, rough beam must be His place of death. Meekly He extends His arms, those arms ever open to welcome back the repentant sinner, and offers His hands to be pierced as the Prophet had foretold. A long, blunt nail is placed upon the palm: a heavy, dull thud, the crunch of parting flesh and rending muscle, the spouting crimson blood which covers the face and hands of the hardened soldier and Jesus is fastened to the cross. Come, sinner, gaze upon your work for you have nailed Him there! Your sins it was which flung your Saviour down, your sins which drove the iron deep into His sacred flesh.

 

Thoughts on the Annunciation from Fr Willie Doyle

Do you not think that Jesus must have done very much for Mary during the nine months she bore Him within her?

COMMENT: Today we celebrate the great feast of the Annunciation. Mary’s Yes was a pivotal moment in our salvation history and indeed in the history of the world.

Mary didn’t know the full implications of her acceptance of God’s will. Yet she didn’t hesitate. She abandoned herself to God with utter faith. How different things would have been without her faithful acceptance…

And how different things would have been without Fr Doyle’s yes to God. How many priests and religious owed their vocations to his writings? How many souls converted through his preaching? How many soldiers saved and consoled by his loving presence and ministry in the trenches?

And what of us? How many people depend on our faithfulness to our vocation, whatever that may be…

Blessed John Henry Newman tells us:

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

Let us turn today to Mary, that she may help us understand our vocation in life more clearly and persevere in it with greater fidelity.

The Tenth Station of the Cross by Fr Willie Doyle

The Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments

At last He stands upon the hill of shame to pay the price of our redemption. In the eyes of His Eternal Father, a sinner laden with the crimes of a wicked world; before men, the most abject and abandoned of creatures. A brutal soldier advances. He lays his hand upon the garment of Jesus and roughly tears it from His sacred shoulders. The cloth has sunk deeply into the gaping wounds left by the recent scourging, and driven deeper still by the weight of the cross and the oft-repeated blows. With a horrid, rending sound the wounds are torn open afresh, the sacred blood gushes forth anew and bathes His limbs in its ruddy stream. It is a moment of awful agony.