Ireland is currently facing what is described as an “unprecedented” weather event. Hurricane Ophelia is heading straight for Ireland. We often get the “tail end” of hurricanes that make their way across there Atlantic from the east coast of the US, but this one is different. It is apparently the worst hurricane ever recorded in this part of the Atlantic, and is set to be the worst Irish storm in 56 years and possible in recorded history. As I write, all schools, colleges and creches are ordered shut tomorrow. Most places of employment are closed and many forms of transport are shut down. There is an eerie stillness outside – not something we are used to.
It is due to make landfall at around 6am Irish time and take almost 24 hours to clear away to the north.
Ireland is not used to major weather events like this. Prayers please for Ireland, and for the safety of people during the next 24 hours.
Fr Doyle featured briefly on the Nationwide programme on RTE 1 in Ireland last night. The programme can be found at this link (the 11 October episode) and the segment featuring Fr Doyle commences at around 11 minutes into the programme:
I cannot deny that I love Jesus, love Him passionately, love Him with every fibre of my heart. He knows it, too, since He has asked me to do many things for Him, which have cost me more than I should like to say, yet which with His grace were sweet and easy in a sense. He knows that my longing, at least, even if the strength and courage are wanting, is to do and suffer much more for Him, and that were He tomorrow to ask for the sacrifice of every living friend, I would not refuse Him. Yet with all that, with the intense longing to make Him known and loved, I have never yet been able to speak of Him to others as I want to.
COMMENT: The intense love of Christ was a central aspect of the spirit of Fr Doyle. The centrality of Christ was also central to another Irishman whose feast we celebrate today.
Blessed Columba Marmion was born in Dublin and was a priest of the Dublin diocese, acting as a seminary professor, chaplain to the Redemptoristine Convent in Drumcondra and as a curate in the parish of Dundrum in the south of Dublin. However, he felt the call to the monastic life and entered the Benedictine monastery of Maredsous in Belgium, ending up as abbot. He was a renowned spiritual writer and spiritual director. The love of Christ, and our divine adoption as children of God were central to his teaching and spirituality. He emphasised that Christ must be central to our spiritual life, and that holiness ultimately comes about through God’s grace acting in the soul. Our job is to dispose ourselves to receive that grace. His formula for growth in holiness, based on the writings of St Paul, is that we must die to sin, and then live for God – the more we remove the roots of sin from our soul, the greater the liberty God will have to work there.
As he wrote in his classic book Christ in His Mysteries:
It is, then, upon Christ that all our gaze ought to be concentrated. Open the Gospel: you will there see that three times only does the Eternal Father cause His Voice to be heard by the world. And what does this Divine Voice say to us? Each time the Eternal Father tells us to contemplate His Son, to listen to Him, that He may be thereby glorified: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him”. All that the Father asks of us is to contemplate Jesus, His Son, to listen to Him, so as to love and imitate Him, because Jesus, Being His Son, is equally God.
Like Fr Doyle, Blessed Columba suffered greatly in the First World War. He was concerned that his monks would be called up for the war effort, so he placed them in other monasteries, and travelled extensively during the war years to raise funds to support his monks in Belgium. During this period he was disguised as a cattle dealer – on one occasion he turned up in this disguise at Tyburn Convent in London where he was well known, but he was initially turned away because they didn’t recognise him in his disguise. He had no papers or passport during these dangerous travels. When trying to cross the border into England, he was challenged for not having a passport. He responded by saying: “I’m Irish, and the Irish need no passport, except to get into hell, and it’s not to hell that I’m going!” He was then allowed to enter England without the necessary papers!
During this period, he commented on his sufferings in a letter:
I have seldom suffered more in every way, than for some time past. I feel we have to take our part in the general expiation which is being offered to God’s justice and sanctity. My soul, my body, my senses, God Himself, all things seem combine to make me suffer. May His holy name be blessed.
Very few Irish people who were not martyred have been beatified or canonised since the Council of Trent, despite many excellent candidates, of which both Columba Marmion and Fr Doyle surely stand in the first rank.
Let us continue to pray and work that more Irish examples of holiness may be recognised in order to act as positive examples for the much needed renewal of this country.
Great to see! There was a time when O’Rahilly’s biography of Fr Doyle was a best seller and Fr Doyle was truly loved by ordinary Dubliners – they identified with his sacrificial generosity. His image would have been familiar to many. It’s 100 years now since he made the ultimate sacrifice – it’s great to see his picture in a shop window in 2017.
There was a very large and enthusiastic turnout for the launch of To Raise the Fallen at Hodges Figgis in Dublin this evening. Many thanks to all the staff at Veritas and at Hodges Figgis and particular thanks to Ronan McGreevy for his very fine words about Fr Doyle this evening. Thanks also to all those who attended, and it was especially nice to meet people who read this site and who came along.
I hope to be able to share some photos of the event tomorrow.
My loving Jesus, on this the morning of my Ordination to the priesthood, I wish to place in Your Sacred Heart, in gratitude for all that You have done for me, the resolution from this day forward to go straight to holiness. My earnest wish and firm resolve is to strive with might and main to become a saint.
COMMENT: These words were written 110 years ago today, on July 28, 1907, on the morning of Fr Doyle’s ordination to the priesthood in Miltown Park, County Dublin.
Fr Doyle loved being a priest. He gives us some hint of his esteem for the priesthood in letters that he wrote to his sister.
This one was sent to his sister a few weeks before the event:
As you may imagine, all my thoughts at present are centred on the Great Day, July 28th. The various events of the year have helped keep it before my mind, learning to say Mass, the Divine Office etc; but now that such a short time remains, I find it hard to realise that I shall be a priest so very soon. Were it not for all the good prayers, especially yours, sister mine, which are being offered up daily for me, I should almost feel in despair, because these long years of waiting (nearly 17 now) have only brought home to me how unworthy I am of such an honour and such a dignity.
On the day of his ordination he wrote the following lines to this same sister:
I know that you will be glad to receive a few lines from the hands which a few hours ago have been consecrated with the holy oil. Thank God a thousand thousand times, I can say at long last, I am a priest, even though I be so unworthy of all that holy name implies. How can I tell you all that my heart feels at this moment? It is full to overflowing with joy and peace and gratitude to the good God for all that He has done for me, and with heartfelt thankfulness to the dear old Missionary for all her prayers. . . . I say my first Mass to-morrow at nine at Hampton for the dear Parents, the second (also at nine) at Terenure will be for you. . . . Thank you for all you have done for me; but above all thank the dear Sacred Heart for this crowning grace imparted to your little brother who loves you so dearly.
And on 28th July 1914, the 7th anniversary of his ordination, he wrote:
At Exposition Jesus spoke clearly in my soul, ‘Do the hard thing for my sake BECAUSE it is hard’. I also felt urged to perform all my priestly duties with great fervour to obtain grace for other priests to do the same, e.g. the Office, that priests may say theirs well.
Fr Doyle’s last ever entry in his diary was made on the 10th anniversary of his ordination (and 3 weeks prior to his death) on 28 July 1917:
I have again offered myself to Jesus as His Victim to do with me absolutely as He pleases. I will try to take all that happens, no matter from whom it comes, as sent to me by Jesus and will bear suffering, heat, cold, etc., with joy as part of my immolation, in reparation for the sins of priests. From this day I shall try bravely to bear all little pains in this spirit. A strong urging to this.
For Fr Doyle, his vocation was inseparable from his call to do penance for the sins of priests. How increasingly relevant Fr Doyle’s example is for us now in Ireland…
Here is a prayer for priests composed by Fr Doyle:
O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” grant them to apply to themselves: “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another.”
O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.
Fr Doyle was not the only remarkable Irish Jesuit ordained on July 28, 1907. His friend, Blessed John Sullivan was also ordained at the same time.
To Raise the Fallen, a collection of Fr Doyle’s writings and prayers that I have compiled and edited in advance of the 100th anniversary of his death next month, will be launched in Hodges Figgis bookstore, Dublin, on August 10th at 5.30pm. Obviously there are many readers of this site in other countries and other parts of Ireland for home this notice is not relevant. However, readers in Dublin are very welcome to come along.
There are a number of other forthcoming events and talks that will be announced in the coming days.