Thoughts for July 2 from Fr Willie Doyle

The conviction has been growing that nocturnal adoration will be established only if I spend much time myself before the Blessed Sacrament at night. I know well that Jesus not only wants me to sacrifice much of my sleep, but also to rise sometimes during the night to adore and console Him in the Tabernacle. The repugnance (and yet attraction) to this is extraordinary.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words on July 2, 1917, just 6 weeks before his death. The circumstances in which he was living at that time are almost incomprehensible to us who live in such relative comfort in this era of peace. Yet, despite the inherent discomfort of life in the thick of war, he felt called to reduce his sleep even more and to rise in the night to adore Christ in the Eucharist. It is interesting to note how he combined a great attraction with a great repugnance. This can often be the case in the spiritual life – we see the same paradox in the lives of many saints. In fact, Fr Doyle occasionally tied himself to his pre dieu in the morning in order to stick to his resolution not to cut his time of prayer short. 

Throughout his life, Fr Doyle was a great advocate of nocturnal adoration, a very fitting way to combine prayer and penance. For most of us, our personal circumstances do not allow us to emulate Fr Doyle’s adherence to this devotion. If this is the case we should strive to live our life of prayer and penance in a way that fits with our ordinary life and obligations, being generous with God while also being balanced; always remembering the primacy of the obligations that attach to our own state in life.

Thoughts for June 28 from Fr Willie Doyle

If an aspiration, on the authority of the Blessed Cure d’Ars, often saved a soul, what must you not do each day you suffer so bravely! This thought certainly will help you and make the pain almost nothing, and will add to its merit, since the motive for bearing it will be all the higher.

COMMENT: Today’s quotation comes from a letter of spiritual direction Fr Doyle wrote to somebody who was sick. Like many popular spiritual directors of his era, Fr Doyle had a very heavy daily correspondence with many people, especially nuns. In fact, he found this work difficult as it placed a heavy burden on him – he was known to receive a couple of dozen letters seeking spiritual direction in a single day. However, despite the burden, he persevered, and indeed it seems that he took his own advice – he offered up his work and inconveniences and sufferings for others, especially for the salvation of souls. 

This principle applies to us all, irrespective of our role in life. We can offer up minor inconveniences, aches and pains, our work, in fact everything in our life for others. Seen in this light, every day presents a multitude of opportunities to help others, to merit grace and to grow in holiness.

Thoughts for June 23 from Fr Willie Doyle

Try to grasp the fact – a very hard thing to do – that in the spiritual life ‘feelings’ count for nothing, that they are no indication of our real state; generally speaking they are just the opposite., . . You are perfectly right when you say that the first thing to do is ‘to give up your own will.’ Why not aim at making God’s will alone yours in every detail of life, so that you would never desire or wish for anything except what He willed, and look on every detail as coming from His hand, as it does? Such a one is never ‘put out’ by anything — bad weather, unpleasant work, annoying incidents, they are all His doing and His sweet will. Try it, though it means high perfection.

COMMENT: It is clear from the Fr Doyle’s notes that he had absolutely no natural desire for the hard life that he lead. His diary is so refreshingly honest – he wanted to eat cakes, he wanted sugar in his tea, he wanted more sleep, he didn’t want to pray. He was often tired and sick. Yet he put aside his feelings, and exerted his will and begged God for His grace. Fr Doyle is an excellent role model for us when we don’t feel like doing what we know deep down we should do.

Thoughts for June 13 from Fr Willie Doyle

The Moment of Benediction.

The priest turns and raises aloft the Sacred Host. In loving adoration, in reverent awe, the invisible angels fall prostrate. The bell tinkles softly, fragrant clouds of sweet-smelling incense ascend on high, and in the remotest corner of the vast church every head is bowed in adoration. It is a solemn moment, a moment when the silent streams of grace pour down upon our souls. God’s hands are lifted up to bless us; His sacred face is turned upon us, and He waits oh ! so eagerly for us to ask some favour that He may win our hearts by His generosity. Let us ask, then, confidently and show our trust in God’s great goodness by the boldness of our requests.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle recommends that we be bold in our requests. This comes from a priest who knew the power of God, for he saw it at work firsthand in his own life. 

God wants to give us His blessings and His graces. It is true that he doesn’t want to be treated like a heavenly ATM machine, and there is surely something defective in our spiritual life if we only call on Him when we are in trouble. But none of this changes the fundamental generosity of God. He wants to help us, and sometimes He will even work real miracles to assist us. If we do not ask for miracles we will not receive them! 

Today is the feast of one of the great miracle workers in the Church – St Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church. In many churches, St Anthony’s statue is one of the most popular ones; it is not unusual across Europe to find an overflowing pile of papers stuck into the statue’s hands. These requests for favours come from all sorts of people of every age. Perhaps there are those who might be tempted to sneer at this simple piety and devotion. It is surely not to everyone’s taste, but that does not mean that it is not to God’s taste. St Anthony’s enduring popularity surely indicates that he is an effective intercessor for those of us who still journey on this earth. 

Let us be bold in our requests, both to God Himself, and also through the intercession of Mary, our guardian angel, the souls in Purgatory and the saints. 

St Anthony

Thoughts for June 1 from Fr Willie Doyle

I assert fearlessly that if only we all prayed enough – and I mean by that a constant, steady unflagging stream of aspirations, petitions etc from the heart – there is no one, no matter how imperfect, careless or even sinful, who would not become a saint, and a big one. But you certainly never will until you learn to turn every action into a prayer and shake off the old tempter who strangles your efforts to pray.

Thoughts for May 28 from Fr Willie Doyle

You seem to be a little upset at not being able to feel more that you really love our Lord. The mere longing desire to do so is a certain proof that love, and much of it, exists in your heart. But you can test your love infallibly and find out how much you have by asking yourself this question: What am I willing to suffer for Him?

Thoughts for May 11 from Fr Willie Doyle

I think our Lord wants your whole day to be one continued act of love and union with Him in your heart, which has no need of words to express it. Your attitude ought to be that of the mother beside the cot of her babe, lost in love and tenderness, but saying nothing, just letting the heart speak, though the wee one cannot know it as Jesus does. There is nothing more sanctifying than this life, which few, I fear, reach to, since it means a constant effort to bring back our wandering imagination.

Thoughts for April 30 (St Pius V) from Fr Willie Doyle

St Pius V – the Pope of the Rosary

 

I said my rosary with arms extended. At the third mystery the pain was so great that I felt I could not possibly continue; but at each Ave (Hail Mary) I prayed for strength and was able to finish it. This has given me great consolation by showing the many hard things I could do with the help of prayer.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle was greatly devoted to the rosary. It is interesting to read accounts of how the rosary consoled worried soldiers who were facing probable death. He regularly arranged the public recitation of the rosary for the troops, and I have read private accounts of how he would personally say the rosary with soldiers suffering from particularly severe fear, sometimes giving them his own rosary beads as a gift. I have received emails from families who have treasured the rosaries that were given by Fr Doyle to their ancestors who fought in World War 1.

Here is a particularly touching account of a scene he witnessed just a few weeks before his death in the summer of 1917:

There were many little touching incidents during these days; one especially I shall not easily forget. When the men had left the field after the evening devotions, I noticed a group of three young boys, brothers I think, still kneeling saying another rosary. They knew it was probably their last meeting on earth and they seemed to cling to one another for mutual comfort and strength, and instinctively turned to the Blessed Mother to help them in their hour of need. There they knelt as if they were alone and unobserved, their hands clasped and faces turned towards heaven, with such a look of beseeching earnestness that the Mother of Mercy surely must have heard their prayer: ‘Holy Mary pray for us now — at the hour of our death. Amen.’

Today is the feast of Pope St Pius V. He was a zealous Dominican friar and reformer at a tough time in the life of the Church. He was the Pope who encouraged the formation of the “Holy League” to defend Europe from the Ottoman Empire – this resulted in the Battle of Lepanto in which the forces of Christendom were successful. It was a major turning point in European history.

St Pius V is known as the Pope of the Rosary because he encouraged Catholics to pray the rosary for the success of the Holy League. The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary now falls on October 7, the date of the Battle of Lepanto, and it was originally instituted by St Pius V as the feast of Our Lady of Victories.

St Pius V lived at a very difficult time in the life of the Church: he had to deal with grave threats to the unity of Christendom, with the challenge of the Ottoman Empire and with the urgent need for internal reform and renewal within the Church. Perhaps his time was not so different from our own. and had to make many difficult decisions. Let us also remember the importance of the rosary in our own lives as we prepare to commence the month of May, traditionally dedicated to Mary.

Tomorrow: Ireland to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for protection against the corona virus

 

Over the last nine days, since Saint Patrick’s Day, many people have been joined in a novena in preparation for the moment of Consecration which includes the Prayer of Consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Bishops and priests will lead the Consecration from their homes, cathedrals and churches across the country.  The faithful are invited to join their local priest or bishop from their home, via webcam, to prayerfully participate in this Act of Consecration during these unprecedented and worrying days for us all.

Archbishop Eamon said, “Now, more than ever, we are committed to offering prayer, solidarity and compassion in our society.  Social distancing cannot be allowed to create social isolation and, through prayer, as Pope Francis said on Sunday, we can overcome: ‘In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven.’

“Tomorrow, at midday, to mark the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, as we consecrate Ireland and our people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for protection against the coronavirus, Pope Francis has asked ‘all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us’, – the Our Father.  Pope Francis prayerfully said, ‘may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.’

The webcam of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, can be viewed on http://armaghparish.net/cathedral-webcam/

The act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary can be found here: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2020/03/24/order-of-service-for-act-of-consecration-of-ireland-to-immaculate-heart-of-mary/