20 December 1914

During the last three nights of the retreat I slept on the floor without feeling any inconvenience after, though I woke very often on account of the pain. This is the first time I have slept this way on more than one successive night.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle was just one of the many holy men and women – including saints – who slept on the floor at night. For example, we know that his friend Blessed John Sullivan also very often slept on the floor, sometimes hiding the fact by ruffling up his blankets to make it look like he slept in the bed.

The retreat Fr Doyle speaks of was not his own, but rather a retreat he was giving, presumably in a convent. It was by these means – prayer and self-denial – that Fr Doyle prepared himself to be a pure instrument of God’s grace for others. It has always been this way with the saints. For example, the liturgy of Advent has many references to St John the Baptist. He was a stranger to comfort – he lived on locusts and honey; he was not dressed in “soft garments”, as Jesus noted. John the Baptist knew that he must decrease, so that the life of grace could increase in his soul. 

There is no other way. We have to deny ourselves (in a way appropriate to our stage and state of life), so that we can leave space for God and His grace in our souls, for if our souls are so full of ourselves, how can there be space for God?

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