Talk about Fr Doyle and Marian devotion Saturday 3.45pm Radio Maria Ireland

 

On Saturday afternoon I will speak at the Hail Holy Queen Conference on Radio Maria Ireland about Fr Doyle and Marian devotion. The conference itself starts at 2pm and the presentation on Fr Doyle will commence at approximately 3.45pm Irish time. Details of how to listen in are found here: https://www.radiomaria.ie/how-to-listen/ 

Interview about Fr Doyle, Blessed John Sullivan and the Rosary this Thursday 7pm Radio Maria Ireland

I am delighted to have the opportunity once again to appear on Radio Maria Ireland this coming Thursday at 7pm Irish time on the Rosary Stories programme with Fr Marius O’Reilly. I will continue the previous discussion from a couple of months ago where we discussed the rosary and Fr Doyle. A special treat is in store – I will discuss a recently discovered retreat meditation from Fr Doyle entitled “How to say the rosary”. This is a world premier of sorts – this document has never before been published!

We will also discuss the rosary and Blessed John Sullivan, including some notes that he kept in his breviary about the rosary.

Details on how to listen are available here: https://www.radiomaria.ie/how-to-listen/ 

One of Fr Doyle’s rosary beads

Talk on Fr Doyle at Men for Christ conference, Radio Maria Ireland, Saturday September 11

 

On Saturday I have the pleasure of speaking alongside an amazing line up of other speakers at the Men for Christ conference on Radio Maria Ireland. The conference starts at 2pm Irish time, and I will speak about Fr Doyle and how his life and message speak very powerfully to men. The section on Fr Doyle starts at approximately 2.30pm.

Details of how to listen are available here: https://www.radiomaria.ie/how-to-listen/

The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Legion of Mary

The Servant of God Frank Duff

 

Today is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Legion of Mary. The Legion is one of the largest lay movements in the Church, and it is almost certainly the most humble – one might expect this anniversary to be trumpeted from the rooftops on many of the Catholic podcasts and YouTube channels that have proliferated in recent years. Instead, the Legion of Mary does its work in quiet humility, and is almost certainly all the more effective for that.

The founder of the Legion of Mary – the Servant of God Frank Duff – was a remarkable man. He was a man of deep spirituality and a brilliant organiser and man of practical affairs, well read in the spiritual literature of his day. Perhaps no surprise then to find, once again, a link with Fr Doyle…

Frank Duff’s spiritual director was the remarkable Fr Michael Browne SJ, and it is probably through this link that we can see some Jesuit influence in the life of Frank Duff. (Incidentally Fr Browne served as novice master to the Irish Jesuits for many years. He was novice master to Blessed John Sullivan who, it is said, modelled himself on Fr Browne to some degree).

We see some of this Jesuit influence in the Legion of Mary handbook, specifically in the quotes from Fr Doyle’s writings that we find there. In addition to several general quotes from O’Rahilly’s biography (O’Rahilly and Frank Duff were well acquainted…), we find the following two quotes from Fr Doyle:

I have long had the feeling that, since the world is growing so rapidly worse and worse and God has lost his hold, as it were, upon the hearts of men, he is looking all the more earnestly and anxiously for big things from those who are faithful to him still. He cannot, perhaps, gather a large army round his standard, but he wants every man in it to be a hero, absolutely and lovingly devoted to him. If only we could get inside that magic circle of generous souls, I believe there is no grace he would not give us to help on the work he has so much at heart, our personal sanctification.

And elsewhere:

I think it is evident that in these days of awful sin and hatred of God, Our Blessed Lord wants to gather round him a legion of chosen souls who will be devoted, heart and soul, to him and his interests; and upon whom he may always count for help and consolation; souls who will not ask ‘How much must I do?’ but rather ‘How much can I do for his love?’: a legion of souls who will give and will not count the cost, whose only pain will be that they cannot do more, and give more, and suffer more for him who has done so much for them: in a word, souls who are not as the rest of men, and who may be fools, perhaps in the eyes of the world; for their watch-word is sacrifice and not self comfort.

Indeed, what better description could there be of a faithful member of the Legion of Mary than these words of Fr Doyle?

It is certain that Frank Duff was aware of, and was inspired by, Fr Doyle. Indeed, we know that early members of the Legion of Mary distributed many Catholic books and pamphlets, including books and literature about Fr Doyle. 

Let us pray today for the Legion of Mary, and specifically for the success of the Legion of Mary Causes – Frank Duff, Alfie Lambe and Edel Quinn – and pray that, in due course, Fr Doyle will join them in that select list of Irish people whose canonisation cause is formally opened. 

St Teresa of Calcutta and Fr Doyle

Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 

Today is the feast of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, one of the most famous and popular Catholics of recent times. Saint Teresa was Albanian, but she lived in Dublin for a number of years while she was a Loreto sister. In fact, the house she lived in was in Rathfarnham, very close to the Jesuit house where Fr Doyle had once lived. The young St Teresa learned about Fr Doyle from the Jesuits and was obviously very impressed. She even decided to adopt some of Fr Doyle’s spiritual practices.

Here is a description from the book “Come be my Light” written by Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk MC, the postulator for her canonisation cause.

It was this mysterious feature of love that moved Mother Teresa to seal the total offering of herself by means of a vow and thus tangibly express her longing to be fully united with her Beloved…Thus for Mother Teresa the vow was the means of strengthening the bond with the One she loved and so experiencing the true freedom that only love can give.

Mother Teresa would have read about the practice of making private vows in the spiritual literature of her time.

Irish Jesuit Fr William Doyle, made numerous private vows, as he found this practice a help in keeping his resolutions. One such vow, which he made in 1911 and renewed from day to day until he could obtain permission from his confessor to make it permanently, was “I deliberately vow, and bind myself, under pain of mortal sin, to refuse Jesus no sacrifice, which I clearly see He is asking from me”.

Fr Kolodiejchuk then describes how Sister Benigna Consolata Ferrero (an Italian nun) and St Therese of Lisieux both adopted this same spiritual practice. He then concludes:

Reading about this promise of her patron saint (St Therese) as well as the private vows made by Fr Doyle and Sr Benigna Consolata no doubt inspired Mother Teresa and influenced her to do the same.

Yet another saint who has been inspired by Fr Doyle’s example! St Teresa is added to the list of those whose holiness has been formally recognised by the Church and who were inspired by Fr Doyle: St Josemaria Escriva, St Alberto Hurtago, St Raphael Arnaiz Barron and Blessed John Sullivan. 

22 August 1917: Fr Doyle mentioned in the Daily Express and in The Times

The following was written about Fr Doyle by Sir Percival Phillips, the famous war correspondent, and appeared in the Daily Express on this day in 1917.

The Orangemen will not forget a certain Roman Catholic chaplain who lies in a soldier’s grave in that sinister plain beyond Ypres. He went forward and back over the battle field with bullets whining about him, seeking out the dying and kneeling in the mud beside them to give them Absolution, walking with death with a smile on his face, watched by his men with reverence and a kind of awe until a shell burst near him and he was killed. His familiar figure was seen and welcomed by hundreds of Irishmen who lay in that bloody place. Each time he came back across the field he was begged to remain in comparative safety. Smilingly he shook his head and went again into the storm. He had been with his boys at Ginchy and through other times of stress, and he would not desert them in their agony. They remember him as a saint — they speak his name with tears.

The Times also included this note on the same day. The chaplain in question was Fr Doyle.

Many tales of individual gallantry are told; two instances especially which should be recorded; one being that of an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the Leinsters, who spent five hours in circumstances of the greatest danger tending the wounded, and behaving in all ways with consummate heroism; and the other that of a Roman Catholic chaplain who went up with the men, sustained and cheered them to the last, till he was killed.

21 August 1917: St Anthony’s Institute in Locre requests Fr Doyle’s “holy body”

During his time away from the trenches Fr Doyle often stayed in a convent in Locre. If my memory serves me correctly, he had an uninterrupted 13 hour sleep after one particularly trying period at the front, and on one occasion he got locked out and had to sleep on a bench outside. 

In any event, these nuns of St Anthony’s Institute obviously held Fr Doyle in very great esteem. They were heartbroken when they heard of his death, and on August 21 1917 they sent the following note to Fr Frank Browne, requesting that Fr Doyle’s body be buried in their convent.

What very sad news I have received! Our good brave holy Fr. Doyle has been killed! Compassionate Lord Jesus give him eternal rest! Rev. Fr Browne will accept my condolence, my feelings of sympathy in the great loss of our good Fr. Doyle, your confrere. Notre petit saint, he has now received his recompense for his holy life, his great love for God and neighbour. Oh! he was so much loved by everybody and we shall never forget him. We are all very glad to have had him with us in the convent and to have made his life as comfortable as possible. Were it not possible Rev. Fr. to bring his holy body to the convent? It were a great honour to us to have it.

Of course, Fr Doyle’s body was never found, and so the “holy body” of the “petit saint” never returned to St Anthony’s Institute. 

20 August 1917: Fr Frank Browne’s praise for Fr Doyle

On this day in 1917, 4 days after Fr Doyle’s death, Fr Frank Browne, the famous photographer and Jesuit military chaplain, wrote the following in a letter expressing his esteem for Fr Doyle. Fr Browne worked closely with Fr Doyle, and these words come from the pen of one who knew Fr Doyle intimately. 

All during these last months he was my greatest help, and to his saintly advice, and still more to his saintly example, I owe everything I felt and did. With him, as with others of us, his bravery was no mere physical show-off. He was afraid and felt fear deeply, how deeply few can realise. And yet the last word said of him to me by the Adjutant of the Royal Irish Rifles in answer to my question, ‘I hope you are taking care of Fr. Doyle?’, was, ‘He is as fond of the shells as ever.’ His one idea was to do God’s work with the men, to make them saints. How he worked and how he prayed for this! Fine weather and foul he was always thinking of them and what he could do for them. In the cold winter he would not use the stove I bought for our dug-out. He scoffed at the idea as making it ‘stuffy’ – and that when the thermometer was fifteen to twenty degrees below zero, the coldest ever known in living memory here.

And how he loathed it all, the life and everything it implied! And yet nobody suspected it. God’s Will was his law. And to all who remonstrated, ‘Must I not be about the Lord’s business?’ was his laughing answer in act and deed and not merely in word. May he rest in peace — it seems superfluous to pray for him.

Fr Willie the Wonder Worker?

Instead of a quote from Fr Doyle, today we present, courtesy of the Irish Messenger, a scanned copy of a booklet published in 1931 entitled “Father Willie”. It seems appropriate to look at this booklet today, the day following his anniversary. And the title of today’s post, suggesting that Fr Doyle is a “wonder worker” is not mine, but rather comes from this Jesuit pamphlet.

No author is mentioned for this booklet which leads me to believe that it was written by Fr Doyle’s brother Fr Charles Doyle SJ. Fr Charlie was Fr Willie’s great friend and boyhood companion, and it was he who recruited Willie to the Jesuits – Willie had considered becoming a diocesan priest and decided to become a Jesuit following some prodding from Charlie.

The first 19 pages of the booklet provide a short biography of Fr Doyle’s life which might be of special interest for individuals who are relatively new to Fr Doyle. There are some letters attesting to people’s devotion to Fr Doyle, followed by an incredible 26 pages of reported favours and cures allegedly granted through Fr Doyle’s intercession.

The figures are astounding. The booklet was published in 1931, a mere 14 years after Fr Doyle’s death, and only 11 years after the first edition of O’Rahilly’s biography was first published. In that time, more than 6,000 alleged favours were reported through Fr Doyle’s intercession!

These alleged favours came from all around the world – amongst many other countries from every continent, there are 101 from Australia, 21 from New Zealand, 53 from India, 11 from Brazil, 71 from various parts of Africa, 57 from Holland, 791 from England, 1,872 from the United States and 3,197 from Ireland.

These figures are truly amazing in an era before the internet and global mass media, especially when one considers the social and economic situation in the 1920’s. It is also likely that many more people felt that they received favours from Fr Doyle but never got around to reporting them. Furthermore, we know that many others wrote simply to express their devotion to Fr Doyle, to ask for relics or to encourage his Cause to be opened. There are more than 50,000 such letters.

Of course, without further details, and without the guidance of the Church, one cannot say with certainty that Fr Doyle answered these prayers, or that there is anything other than natural processes at work. Some of the alleged favours are small. Having said that, some seem to involve significant and unexplained healings.

The one conclusion that we can definitely draw from this booklet was that there was a significant, global devotion to Fr Doyle in the first half of the 20th Century, and that many thousands of people felt that their prayers were answered through his intercession.

Some people do not fully appreciate the Communion of Saints. In our natural world, we do not hesitate to ask others – friends, family, priests – to pray for us and for our concerns. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is the very same, except we ask our friends in Heaven (the saints) to pray for us. It is not the saints themselves who answer our prayer, and we do not strictly pray to them, but we ask them to intercede for us with God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it:

They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.

So, let us remember that we have a friend in Fr Doyle, and ask him for his help in our temporal and spiritual needs, whether they are big or small. And let us remember that the best way to ensure the beatification and canonisation of those we admire is through reporting favours we feel have come through their intercession.

Here is the booklet:

Fr Willie (1931)

2 days until Fr Doyle’s anniversary. What will YOU do to make him more well known?

Fr Doyle’s 104th anniversary is in two days time – August 16. It is an excellent time to tell people about his life and his message. I always find that people – even if they have little or no faith or interest in religion – are amazed at his life and his heroism when they first encounter him. Introducing people to the example of Fr Doyle is a useful act of apostolate. 

Perhaps it would be good to take the opportunity of his anniversary to tell people about Fr Doyle? Perhaps his example has enriched your life in some way? There’s no better way to thank him than by telling others about him. 

You could refer people to this site – talk to them, email them, or put a note about it on Facebook or twitter or some other social network. 

Have you told your local priest about Fr Doyle? Or if you are in a prayer group, have you told them? 

Have you read any of the books about Fr Doyle? The classic and original O’Rahilly biography, or Carole Hope’s Worshiper and Worshipped, or the Catholic Truth Society booklet by K.V. Turley? This CTS booklet has the great advantage of being relatively cheap to buy – you can buy a bundle and distribute them! Perhaps you could give Carmel Kelly’s Man of the People to a child? Or perhaps my own recent effort To Raise the Fallen? Or perhaps you might want to watch and share EWTN’s Bravery Under Fire? (see below)

Perhaps you might want to send somebody this newsletter on Fr Doyle from St Joseph’s Abbey in Flavigny in France? Flavigny newsletter May 2013

Almost all of us can find something to do to make Fr Doyle more well known over these next two days!