The past few weeks have been weeks of extraordinary grace and light and strength. I see clearly what He wants from me as clearly and as certainly, I think, as if I had received a written message from His own hand. For years I was groping in the dark; there was ever a want in my life which I could never satisfy. I know He asked the striving for sanctity, but the way was not clear; perhaps I shut my eyes to the truth for I always suspected His will. Then more light came, with a fierce shrinking from what I feared He wanted. But now, more especially lately, though I can never expect a perfect victory in this world, I feel He has broken down the defences of self-love and is reigning in my heart.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these notes in his diary on 7 May 1914 – 98 years ago today.
Fr Doyle was always focused on sanctity and on doing God’s will, whatever that may be. From these notes in his diary it appears that, even after being ordained a Jesuit priest that he spent some time struggling with this, trying to discern very specifically what that holy will was. It also seems that he really knew deep down what God might specifically want from him, but that, despite all of his zeal, he was too afraid to acknowledge it.
We will see tomorrow what he discerned God’s will to be for his life. For today, a couple of points jump out at us.
I know He asked the striving for sanctity. If we are struggling to know God’s will, either in terms of a vocation or some other decision, we can be sure of one thing – God asks us to strive for sanctity. This search for sanctity is possible just where we are. Holiness is not something that we should procrastinate about, waiting for some imaginary perfect day. There is no such thing. God asks us to strive for sanctity now, and He has given us all we need for this in our present circumstances.
Though I can never expect a perfect victory in this world. We will never perfectly succeed on this earth. Not even the greatest saints, apart from Mary, were completely free from sins or imperfections. There are two points to remember about this. Firstly, the inability to achieve perfection in this life does not negate our obligation to definitively strive for holiness as best we can. Secondly, the knowledge that we will never ultimately be perfect should help guard against the damage caused by scruples.
Broken down the defences of self-love. Sin is always our preference for our own will and our own pleasure in contrast to the will of God. The spiritual life involves a fundamental battle between our disordered self-love and love of God and of neighbour.
Tomorrow we shall look at the notes Fr Doyle wrote on 8th May 1914 in which he discusses his perception of God’s will for him.