Thoughts for December 22 from Fr Willie Doyle

Reading over my reflections and resolutions on the Third Degree during the Long Retreat, I see now they are little more than empty promises; they have produced no real change in my life. I put before myself “always to choose the hard thing, to go against self in all things.” But have I really done so since? Has my life been more mortified from the time I made this resolution? Now, however, I am fully resolved no longer to “beat the air,” but have drawn up a list of definite acts of self-denial by which I can test myself. If only I am faithful to these, I shall indeed have begun to lead a new and better life than formerly.

COMMENT: A few months ago we followed Fr Doyle’s reflections on the Long Retreat (see the posts in October and early November for more on this). We saw how Fr Doyle made so many enthusiastic resolutions. Today’s quote comes from Fr Doyle’s diary in January 1909, slightly over a year after this retreat. It is very consoling for us to see that even Fr Doyle had difficulty in always living out his resolutions. This is a universal human experience. Indeed, the very fact that we have to struggle to live our resolutions is also an opportunity for us to acquire grace and merit.

As St Josemaria Escriva wrote:

The saints are those who struggle right to the end of their lives: those who always manage to get up each time they stumble, each time they fall, and courageously embark on their way once more with humility, love and hope.

Fr Doyle also struggled to live out his resolutions, but we know that he persevered right to the end. If we have made resolutions, we should frequently reflect on them in order to improve our adherence to them. Even if we have failed to keep our Advent resolutions, there are still some days for us to pick ourselves up and start again before Christmas. And if we have no resolutions, what better time to start making them than the last days of the year, in anticipation of a new year with a fresh start…