Thoughts for November 15 (St Albert the Great) from Fr Willie Doyle

Soldiers from the 16th Irish Division. Fr Doyle was appointed chaplain 97 years ago today

Received my appointment from the War Office as chaplain to the 16th Division. Fiat voluntas tua. What the future has in store I know not but I have given Jesus all to dispose of as He sees best. My heart is full of gratitude to Him for giving me this chance of being really generous and of leading a life that will be truly crucified.

COMMENT: The above words were written by Fr Doyle on 15 November 1915. His long desired wish to give all for Christ was approaching.

Anyone who has read an account of the experiences of Fr Doyle in the trenches knows just how difficult and “crucified” that life really was. None of us know what the future holds in store for us. Undoubtedly it holds a mixture of joys and sufferings. Would Fr Doyle have offered himself as a military chaplain if he knew all that it would involve? I am inclined to think that he would, although we can never know for sure. What we can know is that many of us would gladly decline such sufferings if we could. But there is an important spiritual lesson in all of this. We receive grace to cope with sufferings when we actually need it, in other words, when we are actually experiencing those sufferings. We do not receive grace to bear sufferings that are not asked of us at all, or that are not asked of us yet. That is why fear about the future is such an awful thing – the imagined problems of the future lack the divine assistance that we would receive if we were actually asked to carry that particular cross.

Fr Doyle believed in living in the present moment – it is the only time we actually have, and the only time we can truly offer to God. By cultivating this habit, and relying on the grace God gives us in the present moment, we can learn to have the same detachment and serene acceptance that Fr Doyle exhibited 97 years ago today.

Today we also celebrate the feast of the Dominican St Albert the Great, one of the Doctors of the Church. St Albert was the great mentor and teacher of St Thomas Aquinas. He was an early scientific pioneer who had an astounding knowledge of natural and Divine realities. Let us pray to him today, asking for the grace that our culture will more clearly understand that faith and science go hand in hand and are incapable of contradicting each other.  

St Albert the Great