Fr Doyle’s booklet on Vocations republished

Fr Doyle’s famous booklet “Vocations” has recently been republished by Os Justi Press. It can be found here in the US:

And here in the UK:

 “Vocations” had a huge impact during Fr Doyle’s life, and even more so after his death – there have certainly been hundreds – and in reality probably many thousands – of men and women who have discovered or been strengthened in their vocations through Fr Doyle’s writing and, in particular, through this booklet.

Here is Fr Doyle writing about it himself:

You will be glad to know, as I was, that the ninth edition (ninety thousand copies) of my little book, Vocations, is rapidly being exhausted. After my ordination, when I began to be consulted on this important subject, I was struck by the fact that there was nothing one could put into the hands of boys and girls to help them to a decision, except ponderous volumes, which they would scarcely read … I realised the want for some time; but one evening as I walked back to the train after dining with you, the thought of the absolute necessity for such a book seized me so strongly, that there and then I made up my mind to persuade someone to write it, for I never dreamt of even attempting the task myself. 

I soon found out that the shortest way to get a thing done is to do it yourself … I remember well when the manuscript had passed the censors to my great surprise, the venerable manager of the Messenger Office began shaking his head over the prospect of its selling, for as he said with truth, ‘It is a subject which appeals to a limited few’. He decided to print five thousand, and hinted I might buy them all myself! 

Then when the pamphlet began to sell and orders to come in fast, I began to entertain the wild hope that by the time I reached the stage of two crutches and a long white beard, I might possibly see the one hundred thousand mark reached. We are nearly at that now without any pushing or advertising, and I hope the crutches and flowing beard are still a long way off. God is good, is he not? As the second edition came out only in the beginning of 1914 the sale has been extraordinarily rapid. 

It is consoling from time to time to receive letters from convents or religious houses, saying that some novice had come to them chiefly through reading Vocations; for undoubtedly there are many splendid soldiers lost to Christ’s army for the want of a little help and encouragement.

The text of the booklet was already available online, but the great benefit of this publication is that it is now available in a beautifully produced hard copy, newly formatted with very attractive font and production values. This would make a great gift for any young (or not so young) person who has not settled on their future yet.

It is certain that many religious houses used this book in the past to promote vocations. Fr Doyle’s inspirations are as relevant now as they were 100 years ago, so perhaps some religious houses will use it again to encourage vocations to their institute or monastery.

Of note also is the fact that the republication of Fr Doyle’s booklet is a further sign that devotion to Fr Doyle is growing around the world. This is so important if his cause is ever to be opened. So please keep talking about and sharing material by, and about, Fr Doyle!

Congratulations and thanks to Os Justi Press for their initiative and work on this. Perhaps we might soon seen Os Justi Press republish Fr Doyle’s “Shall I be a priest?” and “Scruples and their treatment”???

A sample of the high quality formatting in this new edition of Vocations.

Thoughts for December 22 from Fr Willie Doyle

My genius of an orderly fried meat and pudding together and, with a smile of triumph on his face, brought both on the same plate to the dug-out. He is a good poor chap, but I would not recommend him as a cook.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words in a letter on 22nd December 1916, 102 years ago today. Fr Doyle loved his orderly (Fr Doyle had the rank of Captain, and thus had an orderly to attend to him), but he had much to suffer at his hands – he seems to have lacked a certain common sense. On one occasion he seems to have made tea from the water in which he washed Fr Doyle’s socks! On another occasion (if I recall correctly…) tea was made from water tainted with petrol. Yet, as usual, Fr Doyle offered it all up and took everything in good spirit. 

The famous Fr Frank Browne SJ was a witness to the challenges posed by Fr Doyle’s orderly. Here is his account of one tale of woe.

I rode over one morning to see Fr Doyle. I found him writing letters, which he interrupted to tell me of Murphy’s latest. Pointing to his trench boots he asked me to smell them. They were awful. Murphy, in order to prepare them for polishing, had in the orthodox way washed them, but in an unorthodox manner he had chosen a cesspool! The result was almost too much from Fr Willie. When I told him to sack Murphy on the spot, saying that it was getting a bit too much of a good joke, he laughed and said: ‘Well he’s a decent poor fellow and he means well; and – well, I can perhaps gain something too.’ I must say his patience and restraint made a great impression on me.

Fr Doyle’s kindly patience in dealing with the incompetence of his orderly, and the huge inconveniences they caused him in the midst of so many other stresses and dangers, is surely a sign of great virtue.

Fr Doyle also “used” the incompetence of his orderly as a way of overcoming his own self-will. Copying the example of the Spaniard Luisa de Caravajal, a 16th century noblewoman who was close to the Jesuits and did much for the English martyrs of the Elizabethan persecution, he determined to allow himself to be “trampled on” by his orderly. Writing in his private diary in October 1916, he says:

Lately the desire to be trampled on and become the slave of everybody has grown very strong. I have resolved to make myself secretly the slave of my servant, and, as far as I can, to submit to his will e.g. to wait till he comes to serve my Mass and not to send for him, never to complain of anything he does, to take my meals in the way he chooses to cook them and at the hours he suggests, to let him arrange things in the way he sees fit, in a word humbly to let him trample on me as I deserve.

Fr Doyle was a master of the interior struggle for virtue. His predominant weakness (in my opinion) was his strong willed temperament. This temperament is obviously not entirely bad news the way a temperament oriented towards sloth or sensuality is – we need a strong will if we are ever to achieve anything in life. But Fr Doyle knew that he could easily tip over into a hot temper if he wasn’t careful. Even near the end of his life, we see him remain vigilant – very successfully – to master this defect. 

All of this is also a further sign of Fr Doyle’s sound psychological health and that his penances were appropriate for him – a neurotic and unbalanced personality who performed penance out of an unhealthy obsession seems unlikely to be able to maintain patience and serenity in the face of the provocations and failures of his orderly. On the contrary, Fr Doyle was universally known for this sweetness and calm, even when tired, under stress and when facing grave dangers.


Interview about Fr Doyle on EWTN Life on the Rock

During my recent trip to EWTN’s studios in Alabama I recorded an episode of Life on the Rock. It was a great privilege to meet Fr Mark and Br John and to talk about Fr Doyle.

The episode is airing this week in different parts of the world at different times on EWTN, but it is available now online. Please watch, share and promote awareness of Fr Doyle!