Fr Doyle’s battle against his self-will and comfort

On October 13 (see here) we looked at Fr Doyle’s resolution to submit his will to that of his servant (Fr Doyle had the rank of Captain, and as such had an orderly or servant to look after some of his material needs). Her did this in order to conquer his self-will and to grow in virtue.

Here is one diary note written on this day in 1916, reflecting on his experiences of submitting himself to the will of his servant for the previous two weeks:

I am slowly learning her lesson Jesus brought me out here to teach me. The first and greatest is that I must have no will of my own, only His, and this in all things. It is hard to let everyone walk on you, even your own servant; but Jesus asks this and I try to let Him arrange all as He pleases. Result: yesterday I got no dinner, though I foresaw this would be the consequence of this planning.

These diary notes, written less than a year before his death, show how seriously Fr Doyle took the battle to grow in virtue, and also show how far he had come. It’s worth remembering, as discussed two days ago, that Fr Doyle had also just spent an entire night in prayer in his dug-out. He could well have done with his dinner, but he was content to let God “arrange all as He pleases”.

On one occasion I gave a talk about Fr Doyle and one gentleman in the audience told me that he was told by a priest that Fr Doyle would not be canonised because he was too fond of comfort when he travelled to give missions! It always amazes me how such baseless rumours spread – there is certainly a precedent for it in the lives of many canonised saints!

All one needs to do is to point to these resolutions of Fr Doyle, made in the midst of much suffering in the trenches, to see how little he cared for comfort.

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