Thoughts for December 12 (Our Lady of Guadalupe) from Fr Willie Doyle

I am sorry to see you suffer and yet glad that the cross is your portion. If I had at this moment the gift of miracles, I would not cure you, I should be afraid – the cross is far too precious to take away from anyone. Do not seek to rid yourself of it, rather love it, embrace it, and will to have it, because God wills it for you.

COMMENT: These are tough words from Fr Doyle. For the most part, we do not like the cross. We generally desire to avoid it and to have a comfortable life where things by and large turn out as we want them to.

Yet the saints were always open to the cross. They knew that the road to sanctity was narrow, and that those who profess to follow a crucified Lord must also be open to walking the path that their master did. They recognised that God has designed our cross just for us. As St Francis de Sales wrote:

The everlasting God has in his wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross he now presents to you as a gift from his inmost heart. This cross he now sends you he has gazed at with his all-knowing eyes, understood with his divine mind, tested with his divine justice, warmed with his loving arms, and weighed with his own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large, not one ounce too heavy for you, He has blessed it with his holy name, anointed it with his grace, perfumed it with his consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven – a special greeting from God to you – an alms of the all-merciful love of God.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We can always turn with confidence to Mary who will win for us the grace we need to carry our cross.

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Thoughts for December 11 (St Maravillas) from Fr Willie Doyle

St Maravillas of Jesus

I want to be generous with God and to refuse Him nothing. I do not want to say, “I will go just so far and no farther.”

COMMENT: Today is the feast of St Maria Maravillas of Jesus, a Discalced Carmelite who died in 1974 and was canonised in 2003, making her canonisation one of the fastest in the Church. Despite this, she is unfortunately little known, and this is a great shame for she was a great saint and is a powerful intercessor.

St Maravillas was a latter-day Teresa of Avila, founding numerous Carmelite convents throughout Spain (and one in India) which adhere to strict enclosure and to the original rule of St Teresa. She was also sent to reform the famous convent of the Incarnation in Avila in the 1960’s, following in the footsteps of St Teresa herself who started her religious life in that convent and was herself sent there as a reformer in her later life. St Maravillas suffered much during the persecutions of the Church during the Spanish Civil War, coming close to death on some occasions. Let us not forget that there were over 7,000 Catholic martyrs from that persecution who were killed by the leftists and republicans (and sometimes tortured and raped, if they were nuns) for no other reason than the fact that they were Catholic.

The miracle accredited to her intercession as part of the canonisation process was quite extraordinary, and involved the immediate and complete recovery of an 18 month old boy who fell into a muddy pool and had stopped breathing. The account of this miracle is so extraordinary, I have included a full history of it here: St Maravillas miracle

You may also read more about her life here:http://www.clairval.com/lettres/en/2000/10/18/2181000.htm

St Maravillas, just like Fr Doyle and all of the saints, had great confidence and trust in God. One of the clear indicators of growth in holiness is a total abandonment to the will of God. Here are two quotes from St Maravillas that echo Fr Doyle’s quote for today.

Holiness is very simple: let yourself go confidently and lovingly into God’s arms, wanting and doing what you believe he wants.

And

Lord, when You want, how You want, what You want: this is the only thing that we want and desire.

Let us pray to St Maravillas and to Fr Doyle for an increase in our own trust in God.

 

 

Thoughts for the Second Sunday of Advent from Fr Willie Doyle

He has been tugging at my heart for so many years, urging me in so many ways to give myself wholly to Him, to give all and refuse Him nothing. I dread lest now I shall again refuse Him – perhaps it is the last time He will ask me to do what He wants.

COMMENT: Perhaps this will be our last Advent. Perhaps some of us will not even live to see Christmas. Jesus is always tugging at our hearts, and waiting for us to repay His great love with our own small love. Advent is a time of great spiritual preparation. Let us not waste it.

Thoughts for December 9 from Fr Willie Doyle

Let us love silence and recollection. When we are at home with silence we are at home with God. Silence seems impossible to busy people. But “silence of the heart”, interior silence, is always possible. 

COMMENT: We live in a noisy world. And that “noise” is made all the louder by the ever present reality of smartphones and social media. This is especially problematic for young people whose concentration spans are radically shortened by their ongoing exposure to the fast moving world of computers, games and social media. 

But silence is necessary for us. It was in the stillness of a gentle breeze that Elijah encountered God on Horeb – it was not in the violent wind or in the fire or in the earthquake, but in the silence. And it was in the silence of a cave that the Saviour was born for us. As St Josemaria Escriva said:

Silence is the door-keeper of the interior life. 

Advent should be a time for silence as we prepare for Christmas but so often today it is a time of noise and parties and excess. As Fr Doyle tells us, silence of the heart is always possible for us, but we have to make an effort. For those of us living in the middle of the world, the first step will be unplugging the TV, removing the headphones and turning off the smartphone…

Thoughts for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception from Fr Willie Doyle

 

God delights to honour His saints by bestowing upon them special graces which mark them off from the rest of mankind. To one He gives a burning zeal for souls; to another the thirst for suffering and humiliation, but on Mary alone He bestowed the supreme privilege of freedom from the taint of sin.

From the first moment of her conception till she closed her eyes forever on this world, Mary was undefiled, unspotted by the least taint of sin. Never for an instant did the fierce and fiery burst of temptation ruffle the calm of her holy soul; for her the forbidden pleasures of this life, for which man will barter his priceless soul, had no false attraction. Sin might rage around her, hell might move its mighty depths, but nought could tarnish the spotless beauty of her who was to be the Mother of God.

Thoughts for December 7 from Fr Willie Doyle

I believe strongly in corporal penance as a means to the end. But a denial of your own will often costs more than a hundred strokes of the discipline. To interior penance you must not, and need not, put any limit.

COMMENTS: The discipline is a knotted whip used for corporal penance. Its use would have been standard in Fr Doyle’s time, and still today there are many religious organisations and indeed individuals who use such an implement. Our modern world does not understand such things, but then again, few generations of the past would understand the modern obsession with punishing our bodies in a gym…

We have discussed Fr Doyle’s approach to corporal penance in the past. It is clear that he had a special calling for this type of penance. But it is also clear that he never encouraged others to follow him, and that he instead encouraged interior penances – small acts of self-denial. Indeed, he was an avid practitioner of such penances himself. Who can doubt that we would live in a much better world today if we could all control ourselves better and restrain our selfish impulses?

Many other saints have agreed with Fr Doyle’s comments on the importance of interior penance. St Philip Neri, in particular, comes to mind. He argued that holiness was three fingers deep, meaning that holiness comes from our brain or our mind (He would point to the gap between his eyes to emphasise that holiness was internal. This gap was three fingers wide, hence the expression that holiness is three fingers deep). There is no better time than Advent for trying to acquire this internal holiness.