I was very much annoyed because someone burnt the floor of my dug-out and also on finding my candles had been taken. On arriving at Locre I found a second bed in my room and heard that X was coming. This upset and worried me terribly till I realised that all these things were God’s doing and that He wished to annihilate my will, so that I should never feel even the smallest interior disturbance no matter what might happen. I have secretly given permission to everyone to treat me as he wishes and to trample on me; why then should I not try and live up to this life?
COMMENT: Fr Doyle, like all of us, experienced many temptations. His particular defect seems to have been that he was somewhat highly strung – he had a strong will and a short temper. We all have some defects; it is not a sign of evil on our part, but rather a core dimension of our human condition after the fall. In some respects we could not be holy if we didn’t have defects of this nature, as it is these defects that exercise us in the struggle for holiness. They are, in a sense, like the thorn in the flesh described by St Paul – our journey to holiness necessitates that we overcome them to some degree, or at least that we constantly battle against them. It may even be the case – as some who knew him have suggested – that the annoyances of which Fr Doyle often wrote were mere movements of the emotions that were soon halted when he engaged his will against them. Such events are not even venial sins.
Fr Doyle fought against his defects, and we see here one of these battles – some inconveniences that generated annoyance that was soon mastered and overcome, with the help of God’s grace.