I know I can never be happy unless I am heroically generous with Him. This I have proved time after time. A sacrifice which costs much always brings great grace, joy and interior peace.
I saw many interesting places and things during my weeks of travel. But over all hung a big cloud of sadness, for I realised as I never did before how utterly the world has forgotten Jesus except to hate and outrage Him, the fearful, heart-rending amount of sin visible on all sides, and the vast work for souls that lies before us priests. My feelings at times are more than I can describe. The longing to make up to our dear Lord for all He is suffering is overwhelming, and I ask Him, since somehow my own heart seems indifferent to His pleading, to give me the power to do much and very much to console Him.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote this note in 1912, after a period of travel in France, Belgium and Holland where he was investigating the feasibility of setting up a retreat house for lay people in Ireland. How our culture has changed over the past 100 years! What would Fr Doyle say were he to travel to these countries today? What would he say if he was to look at Ireland today?
In all of this we must avoid two great temptations. The first is to think that the past was a golden age, and that we now live in a time of unparalleled debauchery. Our culture, and the Church, has passed through many tough and un-Christian (and even anti-Christian) times in the past. We must always remain positive despite the troubles of our particular age. God is still God, and His promise that Hell will not prevail against the Church still stands (although we must remember that He didn’t promise that particular local churches, like the French, Belgian, Dutch – or even Irish – Churches would prevail…). We should, however, take courage from the words of Blessed Columba Marmion:
Now let us remind ourselves that, in these our days, the Heart of Jesus is not less loving nor His arm less powerful. God is ready to shed His graces upon us…as abundant and as useful as those he shed upon the first Christians. He does not love us less than he loved them.
The second temptation is to judge others, and think ourselves immune from corruption. St Josemaria Escriva said that the crises in the world are crises of saints. If our culture has wandered far from the values we hold dear, it is because we have failed to live those values to a heroic degree. Certainly this is nowhere more true than in Ireland, where the scandal of abuse and corruption has fundamentally undermined the Church in the eyes of many.
As Fr Doyle says, we must beg for the grace to do much, very much, to console Jesus. We can follow the example of today’s saint, Geltrude Comensoli. She was dedicated to Christ in the Eucharist, and found therein the strength she needed for her apostolic labours. She focussed her particular apostolic efforts on the education of young women working in factories. This was a pressing social need of late 19th Century Italy. Different priorities may present themselves to us today, but we must always remember that we will never succeed in re-generating our culture except by fulfilling our individual vocation in close union with God.
Reading today of how Luisa de Carvajal made herself the slave of her two maids, the old desire for this kind of life sprang up again. What would I not give for someone to treat me in this way? I have asked Jesus to do it, to accept me as His slave. He seemed to say to me that I must carry out what He puts into my mind.
I am to kiss the floor every time I enter, leave or pass before the Tabernacle
I am not to ask remedies for small ailments, toothaches etc
Not to shrink from or relieve small pains
Absolute abandonment to God’s will in all things; to have no will or wish of my own
To ask Fr. B. to treat me like Luisa Carvajal
Every night to tell my Master how many aspirations I have gathered up.
COMMENT: Luisa de Carvajal was a Spanish noblewoman who moved to London during the Elizabethan persecutions, and who provided much help to the persecuted priests, especially Jesuits. She insisted that her own servants treat HER as s servant in order to acquire greater humility and to conquer her own self-will.
Fr Doyle has a very strong temperament; he had temptations towards impatience and bad temper. Yet, it would appear that he very substantially conquered this temptation – so many testimonies about him speak of his gentleness and serenity. And here we find him, a year and half before his death, seeking to go to extraordinary lengths to devise methods that would help him conquer his self-will. He seems to have been ever-vigilant to conquer his faults, and was an extraordinary spiritual tactician.
He seems to me to want a year of great devotedness, intense sympathy and passionate love…Even one year of such a life would help a little, would help much to heal the wounds so many and so deep in His tender Heart. We must love Him and make Him loved more and more. He seems chiefly to ask complete abandonment to His pleasure, not lifting a finger to hinder His holy Will, but letting Him do with us exactly as He pleases.
COMMENT: Our new year’s resolutions should ultimately orient us towards serving God and others with greater dedication. Of course, a resolution written in such a manner would achieve very little as it if far too vague and is not capable of being measured. Instead we should try to develop resolutions based on particular areas of life where we are weak, for example resolutions to be more patient or to avoid gossip or to be more cheerful or to get up (and go to bed!) on time each day.
Today is the feast of St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, a great reforming saint who lived in Rome in the 17th Century. His example seems to be an appropriate one to try to emulate for the year ahead. He was born into wealth and power, and his father was Prince of Lampedusa. St Giuseppe gave up his life of wealth and privilege to become a priest. He was noted for his learning and his scholarship and was made a cardinal. However, having been placed once more in a position of power, he strove to live with humility and poverty, teaching children their catechism and remaining dedicated to his studies. He is particularly noted for his work in the reform of the liturgy, in particular by being faithful to the ancient traditions of the Church.
In the lives of both St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and Fr Doyle, we see shining examples of apostolic zeal and dedication to the duties of life. May they both pray for us as we attempt to emulate their virtues in the year ahead.
More information on St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi can be found here.
I was alone in the drawing-room when Father came in and asked me if I had yet made up my mind as to my future career. I answered ‘Yes” – that I intended to become a Jesuit. I remember how I played my joy and happiness into the piano after thus giving myself openly to Jesus.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words about Christmas Day 1890, on which he told his father that he would become a Jesuit. He was 17. This decision followed several months of discernment. He originally intended to become a diocesan priest and was rather scornful of the idea of entering a religious congregation. However, the influence of his brother, and a book on the religious life by St Alphonsus Liguori, were central to him changing his mind.
Two things jump out here. Firstly that played his “joy and happiness into the piano” – how many of us have a similar joy about our Faith and about our own vocation, whatever it may be? If we lack this joy, how do we recover it? It’s also worth noting that Fr Doyle seems never to have lost this joy, even in tough times.
Secondly is Fr Doyle’s love of music. He played the piano, and we also know that he played the organ in the church in Dalkey. He also directed the first musical in Clongowes Wood College for some considerable time, and it appears that he took on this task in the face of some scepticism. Interestingly, we hear little of music in Fr Doyle’s later life as a priest, despite his obvious interest in it. Was it that he saw no particular need for it in the apostolic tasks assigned to him? If so, his abandonment of music was just one in a long list of sacrifices he made in the fuilfillment of the duties assigned to him.
What impressed me most in the meditation on the Nativity was the thought that Jesus could have been born in wealth and luxury, or at least with the ordinary comforts of life, but He chose all that was hard, unpleasant and uncomfortable.
This He did for me, to show me the life I must lead for Him. If I want to be with Christ, I must lead the life of Christ, and in that life there was little of what was pleasing to nature. I think I have been following Christ, yet how pleasant and comfortable my life has always been ever avoiding cold, hunger, hard work, disagreeable things, humiliations, etc. My Jesus, You are speaking to my heart now. I cannot mistake Your voice or hide from myself what You want from me and what my future life should be. Help me for I am weak and cowardly.
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