1 January 1917

How little the expression ‘we were shelled for two hours’ conveys to you. People read in their papers some mornings: ‘The enemy fiercely attacked our trenches but were driven back again’ and never give a thought to the brave fellows who lie in heaps mangled and bleeding, nor to the moans of pain, nor the broken hearts in many a home. Not many at home care much, I fear, otherwise we should hear less of these brave speeches about ‘no peace at any price’ from men who will never have to fight. If only the world, Allied and German, could see and hear what we see and hear daily there would soon be a shout for ‘peace at any price’.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words on 1 January 1917. They are a fitting reflection for the January 1 which is designated World Day of Peace. Fr Doyle was tough and brave. But he also hated war, and longed for peace. He did so not out of fear or love of comfort, but because he saw the horror and pain that war meant for so many. Perhaps there are some who, motivated by their hatred of war and bloodshed, have little interest in the life and example of a heroic chaplain like Fr Doyle. These words may perhaps give cause for a second glance at Fr Doyle and his spirit, which so longed for peace.

Thoughts for New Year’s Day from Fr Willie Doyle

Feast of Mary, Mother of God


A New Year! What visions of almost boundless good, hidden in the fair bosom of the new-born year, rise up before me. What treasures of grace, what innumerable opportunities of merit are within my grasp if only I seize them.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle believed in using his time well. One very definite aspect of his personality was his efficiency and work ethic – he realised that time was a great gift from God and that he would have to account for how he used it. This is a very fruitful thought for us as we prepare for the new year ahead of us. 

110 years ago today, on New Year’s Day 1912, Fr Doyle made the following notes in his diary.

This morning at Kilmacud (presumably at the Carmelite convent in that suburb, about 5-6 miles south of Dublin city) Jesus again told me what He wants: ‘to refuse Him no sacrifice, to bear every little pain and inconvenience without relief, to give myself absolutely no gratification at meals even when not well or on feasts, and to regard food only as a means of living, to increase my corporal penances’. So strong, clear and persistent is this light, filling my soul with peace, that I feel absolutely convinced it is the will of God. I have begun, therefore, to mark days of ‘absolute sacrifice’ for Jesus. 

This is not the new year’s resolution that is expected of us! But it was what Fr Doyle felt he was called to do, and this call, far from being harmful for him, actually filled him with peace. It was this ascetical training that prepared him so well for his heroism in the trenches.