Thoughts for May 15 from Fr Willie Doyle

I feel ashamed at times that I do not profit more by His nearness, but I know that he makes allowances for weak, inconstant nature.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle occasionally wrote about what he called the “abuse of grace” – the idea that we fail to profit from all of the graces that God gives us. We are all almost certainly guilty of this failing to one degree or another.

In Ireland, and possibly in other parts of the world as well, May is the month in which children traditionally receive Holy Communion for the first time. In this part of the world it is a very big deal, but not always in the best way – it can become a secular rite of passage with little spiritual meaning for the child and the family. One Irish priest was quoted in the newspapers last week saying that the worrying issue about First Holy Communion is when will the child receive the their Second Holy Communion…

But those of us who do attend the sacraments, and have been doing so for some years, have no cause for complacency. How many times have we received the Eucharist since our First Holy Communion? Most adults will have attended Mass at least hundreds, and probably thousands, of times since receiving the Lord for the first time. Have we profited by His nearness during all of these years?

If we are concerned about the state of the world or the state of the Church, we really need look no further than this very point – our failure to profit from the nearness of Christ in the Eucharist. We are called to holiness and to perfection. We simply cannot reach this by ourselves, but we can make strides in that direction by relying on God’s grace and removing obstacles to the workings of that grace in our souls. Those who are holy really impact the world around them for the better. The lives of the saints prove this for us beyond doubt. To borrow the motto for next month’s International Eucharistic Congress being held here in Dublin, they have managed to find “communion with Christ and with one another”. If we are dismayed at the state of the world, or the state of the Church, or the sad reality that many of the young children who receive the Lord this month may not do so again until they next attend a wedding or a funeral, then we need to examine ourselves on our efforts to correspond to God’s graces.

Thankfully it’s never too late. As Fr Doyle says, Jesus “makes allowances for weak, inconstant nature”. If we try to profit more from His nearness, we will slowly begin to reform ourselves, and our world.