Every little victory in the matter of food is a real triumph, for this is a real test of generosity. You will find many persons given to prayer, works of zeal, penance, but most seem to fly from denial of their appetite…St Francis de Sales used to say “Unless you deny your appetite you will never be a saint” – a might saying! All the same, I think it would please our Lord more, at this Christmas season of joy, to relax a little and even indulge the body. It will help you to renew the fight later with more energy.
COMMENT: At first glance today’s quote from Fr Doyle may seem a little uncharacteristic. But it isn’t really unusual of him – Fr Doyle was a tough ascetic, but he was also fun-loving, good natured, totally “normal” and well-balanced. And we see that balance here. The immediate context of the above quote was advice to somebody about the necessity for some fasting from food in order to gain holiness. But there is a time for all things, and the “Christmas season of joy” is not the time for that form of asceticism. Christmas is a time to celebrate the Incarnation, a time to relax and recharge our batteries so that we may move forward again with more energy. However, of note here is that the above words were written to somebody who clearly desired penance and lived a temperate life. If we are gluttons all year long, Fr Doyle’s words are not a licence for even more self-indulgence!!
It’s also worth remembering that it is still the Christmas season! We are now only on the 6th day of Christmas, only half way there. While the commercial world starts to remove the decorations (if they have not already disappeared), we should continue to live the spirit of Christmas joy, even with a little indulgence.