Great News!!! Coming in August: Bravery Under Fire

I am delighted to announce that EWTN will broadcast a major docudrama about Fr Doyle later this summer! Titled Bravery Under Fire, the programme is 80 minutes long, and features a number of interviews about Fr Doyle, along with re-enactments of many scenes from his life, all the way from his childhood in Dublin, his ministry as a priest, aspects of his spiritual life, and ultimately his service and death during World War 1. Fr Doyle is played by the Irish actor Brian Milligan. Many people, including myself, with an interest in Fr Doyle’s life were interviewed as part of the programme. I also had the extraordinary privilege of travelling to Belgium with the film crew to conduct more interviews and capture more footage in the area where Fr Doyle served and, ultimately, died. It was a deeply moving experience for me to visit these areas for the first time – to see Fr Doyle’s name at the memorial in Tyne Cot cemetery; to see the field where he probably died; to walk around reconstructed trenches. It brought the suffering of these soldiers to life, and it even increased my admiration for Fr Doyle’s sacrifice.

In recent years there have been several books about Fr Doyle (and a further new announcement on that score very soon…). Now there is a major docudrama. This is a sign that people are interested in his life and spirit. Campbell Miller, the producer and director of the programme, says that his hope is that Bravery Under Fire will spark renewed interest in Fr Doyle’s canonisation. May it be so!

You can read more about the docudrama here:

The programme was directed and produced by the award winning film maker Campbell Miller. I have seen an initial version of the trailer for the programme, and it looks wonderful, and I will link to it here when it is publicly available. Campbell’s award-winning short film about World War II – Respite at Christmas – is below. It gives a sense of the type of war scenes we can expect to find in Bravery Under Fire.


Thoughts for June 11 from Fr Willie Doyle

The Third Degree of Humility. 

1. Accepto. I will receive with joy all unpleasant things which I must bear : (a) pain, sickness, heat, cold, food; (b) house, employment, rules, customs; (c) trials of religious life, companions; (d) reprimands, humiliations; (e) anything which is a cross. 

2. Volo et desidero. I will wish and desire that these things may happen to me, that so I may resemble my Jesus more. 

3. Eligo. Wtih all my might I will strive every day agere contra in omnibus: (a) against my faults; (b) against my my own will; (c) against my ease and comfort; (d) against the desires of the body; (e) against my habit and inclination of performing my duties negligently and without fervour.

COMMENT: Today’s text from Fr Doyle comes from his notes on the Long Retreat in the autumn of 1907. This retreat was to have a profound influence on his life; everything that came after, including his sacrifices in the trenches, seem to be fruits of the seeds that were planted on this retreat.

In these notes, Fr Doyle reflects on St Ignatius’ meditation on the three types of humility, which is placed during the second week of the Spiritual Exercises. The full text from Ignatius is as follows:

Third Humility. The third is most perfect Humility; namely, when…in order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want to choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobium with Christ replete with it rather than honours; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world.

Fr Doyle shows us a way in which we can attempt to reach this degree of humility, namely by acting agere contra in omnibus – against myself in all things. This was fundamental in Fr Doyle’s spirituality, and it is crucial to remember that the hero of the trenches was not born that way – he made himself strong and courageous, with God’s grace, by acting against himself in small things every day. We do not need to act against ourselves in ALL things – Fr Doyle had a special calling that is different from ours. But if we do not act against ourselves in SOME things we become spiritually weak and flabby, we become selfish and unattractive to live with in our families and communities.

The benefits of this spiritual discipline can help us not only in spiritual terms but in human terms as well. The Jesuit priest, Fr Walter Ciszek, who suffered greatly for the faith in prison camps in Siberia and elsewhere in Russia, reports in his own memoirs that it was his own daily discipline in denying himself that helped him prepare for long years of deprivation, solitude and hard work.

Fr Doyle, Fr Ciszek and so many saints show us in their lives that traditional ascetical practices not only train us for the next world, but they also equip us to face challenges in this life as well.

Fr Walter Ciszek SJ