21 December: A day I always like because the turning point of the year and from this on the evenings will be longer, the mornings brighter and, best of all, the sun hotter. I can quite understand now why the missioners when preaching to the Eskimos tell them that Hell is the devil and all of a cold place, otherwise every man Jack would just be longing to get there as soon as possible.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words in a letter to his father in 1916. He had already lived through some rough conditions and seen a lot of suffering in the previous 12 months as a military chaplain, yet once again we see his joyful and light-hearted spirit on display. Those of us who dislike the intense darkness of this time of year can also surely identify with how much he looked forward to spring, though in Fr Doyle’s case, writing in December 1916, he had a intensely cold few weeks ahead of him through January 1917. But of course, he approached them with the same cheerful spirit.
It’s hard not to love Fr Doyle’s sense of humour and cheerful optimism. Fr Doyle was always joyful, always looking to put the best foot forward in every situation. As Pope Francis continually tells us, Christians should be filled with the joy of the Gospel. In fact, it is Fr Doyle’s cheerful spirit, abundantly testified to by so many who knew him, that is one of his most appealing characteristics.
Today is also the feast of the great Jesuit saint and Doctor of the Church St Peter Canisius. His remarkable life of hard work, preaching and teaching, always with charity and respect, did so much to promote the faith in northern and central Europe during the Catholic Reformation. Like all those who serve Him, Jesus guided this great saint and provided for him the graces needed to make his work bear fruit.
Despite St Peter’s undoubted sanctity and importance in the Catholic Reformation, he wasn’t beatified until more than 250 years after his death. Indeed, let us also recall the case of the Church’s newest saint, St Peter Faber, one of the co-founders of the Jesuits, beatified 300 years after his death and canonised just 4 days ago, more than 450 years after he died! Sometimes it just takes time for these things to work themselves out. Perhaps Fr Doyle’s time will also come one day…
You may be interested in reading more about St Peter Canisius here: http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Saints/Saints_019.htm