12 April 1917

Kneeling on the altar steps Jesus told me to devote one day of each week to the work of sanctification and reparation for His priests in each part of the world, e.g. Monday for the priests of Europe etc.

COMMENT: Today’s quote was written in Fr Doyle’s diary on this day in 1917.

Fr Doyle was something of a mystic. Again and again he reports in his diaries the messages he felt he received in prayer. These messages were private and normally referred to his own spiritual life. It is not up to us to judge the authenticity of such private messages, though we should recall that prayer is not a monologue in which we rattle off words in God’s direction, but rather an intimate conversation with our Father. A conversation implies a two way flow of communication, and this communication can of course take the form of locutions from time to time. 

In any event, it is clear that Fr Doyle did feel that he received heavenly inspirations and that his directors seem not to have disagreed with him on this point. Indeed, as the famous French Jesuit spiritual writer Fr de Grandmaison once declared:

We must unhesitatingly say that the life of Fr Doyle was that of a great mystic, as indeed it seems to have been that of a saint.

Today’s words carry on the theme of yesterday’s commentary on Fr Doyle’s care for priests and their sanctification. Without priests the Church withers and suffers. Saying this does not undermine the serious call to holiness of lay people. But how can lay people grow in holiness without ready access to the nourishment of the sacraments and the formation that comes from holy priests? I am reminded of St John Vianney who, while trying to find the way to Ars on his first journey there, asked a local boy, and remarked that, while the boy had shown the priest the way to Ars, the priest would show the boy the way to Heaven. This is how it should be. But sadly we know far too many stories about priests who have not done this, and who have scandalised there world instead. 

Today’s quote also shows us the universal nature of Fr Doyle’s concerns – he felt that he was called to work for the sanctification of all priests, not just Jesuits or not just Irish priests.

One final concluding through for today… It seems that Fr Doyle was not the only one to dedicate his prayers and work for a different intention each day of the week. Blessed Columba Marmion offered each day of the week as follows:

Monday: Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday: Order of St Benedict

Wednesday: Relations and those to whom I am under any obligation

Thursday: Sovereign Pontiff, bishops, clergy, religious Orders

Friday: Missionaries, sinners, heretics, infidels

Saturday: Spiritual children

Sunday: Abbot, Community, my own perfection

Perhaps there is something that we can learn from this for our own lives. We all face challenges each day – our duties and work, as well as inconveniences, weaknesses and illnesses common to all of humanity. We can choose to waste these, or else to “offer them up”. To use St Paul’s phrase, in some mysterious way we can make up for whatever is lacking in the suffering of Christ. Let us not waste these precious opportunities for merit.

Blessed Columba Marmion

Thoughts for the Feast of St Gemma Galgani from Fr Willie Doyle

St Gemma Galgani

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.

COMMENT: Today’s quote comes from Fr Doyle’s prayer for priests. Fr Doyle was deeply concerned about priests – he wrote two hugely successful booklets on the priesthood and religious life; he assisted many men (and women) in finding their vocations; he developed very innovative fundraising schemes to help young men pay for their seminary formation; he was the Director General for Ireland of the League for Priestly Sanctity. Furthermore, he offered many of his severe penances in reparation for the sins of priests. This message of priestly sanctity is always timely, but perhaps never more so than in Ireland at this time.

In addition to being Tuesday of Holy Week, today is the feast of St Gemma. She was a simple Italian lay woman who died in 1903 at the age of 25 (she was born 5 years after Fr Doyle). She was unable to join a convent, so she lived a simple and modest life in the world. She was also the recipient of numerous mystical gifts, though of course these themselves are not the reason for her canonisation.

St Gemma herself also felt that Jesus was calling her to prayer for priests, and she regularly offered her own sufferings for them. St Gemma once felt that Jesus was saying the following to her:

I have need of a great expiation specially for the sins and sacrileges by which ministers of the sanctuary are offending me.

Let us all therefore pray for our priests, and support them at this difficult time. And let us also remember that all of us are called to holiness in whatever state of life was are in!

Fr Doyle was an early devotee of St Gemma’s. Her biography was first published in English in 1913 (just 4 years before his death) and we are told that he would sometimes pick a page at random at use it as inspiration for his prayer. Recently I had the opportunity to examine some of Fr Doyle’s diaries, and flicking through one of them I found a photograph of St Gemma that had been cut from a newspaper, presumably by Fr Doyle himself – an intimate sign of Fr Doyle’s devotion to this beautiful saint. 

For those who desire more information about St Gemma, there is an excellent website dedicated to St Gemma here: http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/

1 April 1914

Fr Doyle made these notes in his diary on this day in 1914. They record what he perceived to be a divine locution on the anniversary of his entry into the Jesuit novitiate. It is interesting to note some areas he felt he was being called to work on with greater vigour – control of his eyes (against curiosity), control of his tongue and overcoming human respect (too great a concern about what other thought of him). There is surely something for almost everyone in this.  

I begin to-day my twenty-fourth year in the Society, with a heart full to overflowing with gratitude for my vocation. I write this before my Jesus in the Tabernacle and I have asked Him to make me note down what He wants from me.

Jesus says: ‘(1) I want you to trust Me more: you are too much afraid of injuring your health by doing what I ask of you e.g. rising at night, sleeping on boards, taking no butter, etc. I would not urge these things so much if I did not want them from you. Trust Me more, My child. Have I not helped you to do many things you thought impossible and have you suffered for it? (2) I want you also to be My ‘Suffering Love,’ never content unless you are making some sacrifice. You have not given Me all yet, though you know I want it, and until you do so, I cannot give you the marvellous graces I have destined for your soul. Be brave, be generous, but do not delay. There is joy in crucifixion. (3) I want this year to be one of profound recollection and intense union with Me. I have promised to dwell physically in you as in a tabernacle, from Communion to Communion, if you do what I have asked you — guard your eyes. (4) Your faults of the tongue must cease from this day, they are working you much harm. (5) You must work for Me as you have never done before, especially by prayer and aspirations, boldly urging souls to heroic sanctity, not minding what people may say of you. Human respect is one of your faults still.’

Before leaving the chapel Jesus said: ‘In future let your heart speak; you are afraid of letting people know that you love Me tenderly.’

Thoughts for March 12 from Fr Willie Doyle

St Francis Xavier

Vince teipsum – conquer yourself. This is the secret of the Spiritual Exercises. “I learnt no other lesson from my master Ignatius,” said St. Francis Xavier, referring to his first retreat at Paris. Here we all fail good men, zealous men, holy men. Prayer is easy, works of zeal attractive; but going against self, till grace and perseverance give facility, is cruel work, a hard battle.

COMMENT: It is appropriate for us to consider this quote from Fr Doyle today for two reasons.

Firstly, conquering ourselves is a crucial part of the Lenten experience. We aim to uproot our vices and become more like Christ during our 40 days of spiritual discipline.

The second reason relates to the person of St Francis Xavier, one of Ignatius’ first companions, one of the greatest Jesuit saints and the patron of the missions. Today is traditionally the last day of the Novena of Grace in honour of St Francis. In St Francis’ day, the mission field was far away; today it is in our own cities and towns, all so badly in need of the New Evangelisation. May he enkindle in us the same passion to save souls that compelled him to travel to the other side of the world. Let us conclude with the traditional novena prayer to St Francis Xavier.

Most amiable and most loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favours with which God blessed thee during life, and of thy glory after death, fills me with joy. I implore thee to obtain for me, through thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain the special favour I ask for (Make your request here…)

But, if what I ask is not for the glory of God, and the good of my soul, I pray and desire that which is the most conductive to both.

Amen.

Thoughts for March 6 from Fr Willie Doyle

Passion of Christ, comfort me! Comfort me, for the day is long and weary; comfort me as I fight my way up the path of life safe to the haven of Thy Sacred Heart, comfort me in sorrow, in pain, in sickness. Comfort me when temptation rages around me and every hope seems lost, and when the last dread hour has sounded and my eyes are closing on this world of sin, Oh, Passion of Christ! comfort me then, and lead me gently to Thy wounded Sacred Feet above.

Thoughts for February 25 from Fr Willie Doyle

A habit of ejaculatory prayer is a sign of nearness to God, for our own holiness will be in proportion to our love and thought of Him all day long.

COMMENT: St Paul tells us to pray always. The great saints and mystics lived constantly in God’s presence, almost unconsciously making everything they did a prayer. Yet, unless they have received many graces, it is unlikely that they started out with this constant presence of God. For many, it required much effort and discipline to overcome their natural human tendency towards dissipation.

One technique for living more completely in God’s presence is the use of aspirations – short prayers interspersed throughout the day to help remind us that we are in the presence of God.

If we love someone with a human passion, it is normal that we think about them throughout the day. Can we really say that we love God as we ought if we only think of Him during our times of formal prayer, or when we want His help with something?

Prayer request

Today, instead of a comment from Fr Doyle, I have a prayer request. I don’t normally do this, but this is a worthy case.

There is a lady in the US whose initials are EC who has a great devotion to Fr Doyle (I am omitting her name at her request to facilitate her anonymity). She has even named her recently born fifth child after him. EC’s parents have a number of serious health problems, but she herself is struggling with a serious eye disease which carries a high risk of blindness. She has already had to give up driving and reading books. She is due to have eye surgery tomorrow (February 13) and again in two weeks (Feb 27), and the surgery itself is obviously risky.

EC has requested prayers for her family and also for her own healing. Let us ask Fr Willie, to whom EC is devoted, to intercede for her health and for her family. Remember – in the first 14 years after his death, the Irish Jesuits received reports of 6,426 alleged favours from all around the world through Fr Doyle’s intercession. Some of them even relate to healing of the eye. You may read more about them here:

https://fatherdoyle.com/2016/08/17/fr-willie-the-wonder-worker-3/

Here is the prayer (for private use) that was written and approved in the 1920’s for Fr Doyle’s intercession:

O Jesus, who has given us the example of Your servant, Father William Doyle, graciously grant us the favours we ask You through his intercession…[Make petition.]

Teach us to imitate his love for You, his heroic devotion to Your service, his zeal for repairing the outrages done to Your glory and for the salvation of souls. Hear our prayer and show us the credit he now enjoys in heaven so that we may soon be able to venerate him in public worship.”

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be