24 March 1917

It was a beautiful clear morning, such a morning as would tempt the laziest aviator to have a sail, so many eyes were on the watch out for visitors. We had not long to wait. Away in the distance a solitary German aeroplane was seen approaching, flying very fast towards where we are. With that love for fair play and a good even fight, for which the British navy is so justly famous, three of our machines together made for the adventurous German, probably thinking he would fly for his life back to where he came from. On the contrary, the rude fellow made for them; in a brace of shakes, had sent two of our machines crashing to the ground, and the third limping home, evidently badly mauled, and then seeing there was no one else ‘having any’, continued on his journey. I have seen (in the newspapers) one of our men taking on eight Germans at a time, but they cannot have been the same stuff as our visitor, who is evidently ‘a topper’.

Thoughts for March 24 from Fr Willie Doyle

The great defect in my character and chief reason why I make so little progress is my want of fidelity. Thus in the past eighteen months I have not marked the ejaculations and acts of self-denial over three hundred times. 

COMMENT: Fr Doyle refers here to his tendency of keeping meticulous records about numerous aspects of his spiritual life. Many saints kept detailed spiritual records in order to review their progress day by day and to ensure that they were aware of any slippage in their acts of devotion. It is a practice recommended by St Ignatius for his Jesuit sons. Fr Doyle was generally very conscientious in keeping his “spiritual accounts” up to date. 

It is consoling for the rest of us to read about this period of time in which Fr Doyle did not keep his records up to date so often, presumably due to being busy or overwhelmed with others tasks. Even the very devout have to struggle with their resolutions – this fact should give consolation to the rest of us. 

The key issue that we might consider in today’s quote is that of fidelity. Fr Doyle is correct – we will not make progress unless we are faithful to our resolutions. We see this in so many areas of our life. We will not advance in study unless we are faithful in our work; we will not become fitter unless we remain faithful to our physical exercises. The same principle holds true for our spiritual life. We must strive to remain faithful to our resolutions. However, there will inevitably be times when we fail and when we lack fidelity. In such a situation we don’t give into discouragement which is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. Rather, we pick ourselves up and start again. 

We are now almost half way through Lent. Have we been faithful to our resolutions? If not, it doesn’t mean that we just give up – we still have 3 weeks of Lent left in order to get back on track.