Thoughts for August 19 from Fr Willie Doyle

St John Eudes

Two wings by which we can fly to God and become saints: the habit of little tiny acts of self-denial and the habit of making a definite fixed number of aspirations every day.

COMMENT: The use of aspirations was an important part of Fr Doyle’s spiritual life. Those under a certain age may be unfamiliar with aspirations and may even be unaware of what they mean. Aspirations are simple, short prayers of just a sentence or even a few words. They can be repeated in times of trial or temptation, or like many of the saints, on a regular or indeed constant basis in order to deepen our union with Christ.

In his diary Fr Doyle writes that constantly repeating aspirations was the penance of his life. Those who know something about Fr Doyle’s inner life will realise what a big claim that is!

Amazingly his diary records him saying tens of thousands of aspirations each day. It’s not quite clear how he managed this; in practice it probably means that his mind was always continually focused on God and that he lived St Paul’s recommendation that we pray without ceasing. He also records how saying some aspirations helped him in moments of temptation and weakness; he also used to pray aspirations to give him the strength to get out of bed on time. Perhaps we can all learn from that!

While we hear much less about the use of aspirations than in previous generations, the practice was very important to the saints.

St Josemaria Escriva writes:

There will be other occasions on which all we’ll need will be two or three words, said with the quickness of a dart — ejaculatory prayers, aspirations that we learn from a careful reading of Christ’s life: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” ”Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” ”Lord, I do believe, but help my unbelief,” strengthen my faith. “Lord, I am not worthy.” ”My Lord and my God!”… or other short phrases, full of affection, that spring from the soul’s intimate fervour and correspond to the different circumstances of each day.

Today’s saint, John Eudes, was also much devoted to the use of aspirations. Writing about himself in the third person, he says that he knows a person

…who by the frequent use of (aspirations) has arrived at such a stage that it is easy for him, even when taking his meals, to make actually almost as many acts of love for Jesus as he places morsels in his mouth. This he does not only without strain or trouble of inconvenience, but he is not thereby prevented from talking and taking recreation. I say this, not that you should do the same, for there would immediately be an outcry that I was asking things too difficult, but that you may know how much power there is in a holy habit, and how wrong the world is in imagining so much difficulty and bitterness where there is merely every kind of sweetness and delight.

Documentary: The Irish at Passchendaele

Ronan McGreevy of the Irish Times has produced a fascinating documentary about the Irish involvement in World War 1. Today the Irish Times published the segment featuring the Battle of Passchendaele and the Irish involvement therein. Fr Doyle features extensively, and we get a glimpse of the terrain where he worked and was killed. 

Thanks to Ronan for his hard work in keeping the memory of these Irish soldiers alive and for his ongoing interest in Fr Doyle. 

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/the-irish-at-passchendaele-1.3190583

Article about Fr Doyle in the Independent (UK)

Robert Fisk published an article about Fr Doyle in the Independent (UK) yesterday. It is an interesting, but somewhat unusual, take on Fr Doyle. There are some factual and theological difficulties with it, and it is rather polemical. I link to it here only for the historical record and without comment one way or the other. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-what-one-mans-life-can-tell-us-a7897951.html

 

August 18: St Alberto Hurtado and Fr Doyle

St Alberto Hurtado

Today is the feast of St Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit saint from Chile. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and is renowned for his social work and love of the poor.

Contacts in Chile also tell me that he is remembered among the Jesuits there as a devotee of Fr Doyle. He apparently distributed literature relating to Fr Doyle and encouraged others to learn about his life. I understand that he came to Ireland as a young Jesuit to learn English, so it was probably on this occasion that he heard about Fr Doyle. Here we have a joyful, cheerful modern saint who was devoted to social justice and who also presumably derived personal spiritual benefits from the example, and words, of Fr Doyle.

St Alberto is not alone – we know that St Josemaria Escriva, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed John Sullivan, Venerable Adolphus Petit and the Servant of God Bernard Quinn all admired Fr Doyle. There may well be other well known saints who were also devoted to him, and indeed there are many thousands of ordinary people from all walks of life who have been inspired by Fr Doyle’s love of God and of neighbour.

I am not aware of a specific reference to Fr Doyle in St Alberto’s writings, but there may well be something there: if anybody knows anything please let me know.

There is a list of some meditations in English from St Alberto here. Interestingly, St Alberto refers to the Venerable Matt Talbot (we have no direct evidence, but also surely a devotee of Fr Doyle??) in this meditation.

Here is a short video of his life:

Some photographs from the launch of To Raise the Fallen

Below are some photographs of last week’s very successful book launch of To Raise the Fallen. I am a bit late putting them up, but it has been busy!! I hope these give a sense of the launch, and the interest in Fr Doyle, for all of those who live in other parts of the world. Thanks to my friend Sam who took the photographs.

Pamela McLoughlin, Marketing Manager of Veritas opens the launch

 

Tony Canavan, Editor of Books Ireland, addresses the launch

 

Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times, delivers a wonderful tribute to Fr Doyle



 

View of part of the crowd

 

View of part of the crowd

 

View of part of the crowd

 

Some young fans of Fr Doyle