I have noticed that every time I have indulged myself, my appetite especially, for no matter what reason, I have always had remorse and felt unhappy; but that each generous victory, every additional act of penance, has been followed by peace of soul and contentment.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words in his diary on this day in 1913 – 101 years ago today.
These words are probably counter-intuitive for us. Most of us in the modern world have bought into the idea that life is about maximising our pleasure and getting as much “stuff” as we possibly can. Yet, so often this approach to life leaves us unsatisfied. Pope Francis has been particularly insistent on this theme of detachment and poverty of spirit.
Fr Doyle – and indeed all of the saints and many others in religious life across history – had a different philosophy. They believed that happiness and peace came from detachment, and from a radical love of God and neighbour. An essential part of developing this detachment was penance and mortification.
Perhaps our lesson today is that it wouldn’t hurt us much to say “no” to ourselves from time to time, and that it would probably make those around us a bit happier as well.