Showing posts with label Fr William Doyle SJ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fr William Doyle SJ. Show all posts

12 Aug 2017

'This is the struggle of our life - to let Christ rule.' Sunday Reflections, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Salvation of Peter, Andrea da Firenze [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Fr William Doyle SJ
3 March 1873 - 16 August 2017

Father William Doyle SJ, killed on 17 August 1917 in the Third Battle of Ypres, Belgium, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, wrote this commentary on today's Gospel.

About the fourth watch of the night he cometh to them

Christ did not show himself until the fourth watch of the night. How often is this same history repeated in our own case! There is no encouragement, no comfort. We are wearied waiting. There is no sign of approaching help. Why not give up! Surely we never bargained for this. We never believed things would come to such a pass! Oh, the anguish of these moments, when in the midst of struggle, depression and loneliness Christ withholds his sensible presence. 

Continue here.

17 Nov 2016

'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King, Year C

CrucifixionPedro de Campaña, c.1550
Musée du Louvre, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]
Gospel Luke 23:35-43 (NRSV,Catholic Ed) 
The people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at Jesus, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom Taizé chant
About six years ago Dominican friar in Dublin told me about one of his confreres who was to celebrate Mass one morning in a nearby Sisters' convent. Since it was only a short walk he decided to wear his habit. (It was the Dominican habit that first caught my imagination about the priesthood when I was six or seven, though later on I never considered joining the Dominicans.) Along the way the friar met a Sister from another convent who chided him for being so 'old-fashioned' or 'pre-Vatican 2' or words to that effect. A little further on a young man stopped him. This was the conversation that followed:
You're a priest, right?
Yes.
Well I'm getting married tomorrow and I need to go to confession.
So Father heard the young man's confession on the street and went on his 'pre-Vatican 2' way to celebrate Mass.
Continue here.

15 Apr 2016

'My sheep hear my voice.' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Good Shepherd, Marten van Cleve
 Gospel John 10:27-30 (NRSV, Catholic Ed., Canada) 

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
'My sheep hear my voice'
I know nothing about tending sheep and until I looked at the video above never quite understood the reality of the words of Jesus in today's gospel:  ‘My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me'.

An extraordinary example of the power of words is a story involving Fr Willie Doyle SJ, the army chaplain who was killed in 1917 in Belgium during the Great War. Some years before the War he was giving a retreat to a community of nuns in Ireland. He got a telegram on the last day from his Provincial Superior telling him to get back to Dublin immediately so that he could catch the boat for England that night. When Fr Doyle got to Dublin the Provincial showed him a telegram he had received from the governor of a prison in England: Please send Fr William Doyle SJ to D ___ Prison. Woman to be executed tomorrow asks to see him. The message was a mystery to both priests but Fr Doyle left for England immediately.

When he got to the prison at 5am the Governor told Fr Doyle that Fanny Cranbush wanted to talk to him. She was a prostitute who had got involved in a murder and was to pay the penalty. When she first arrived in jail she said she didn't need any minister of religion. But a few days before the execution she told the Governor that she wanted to see a particular priest. She didn't know his name or where he lived. All she could say was that a couple of years before this he had been in the town where the prison was giving some kind of 'mission'.

The good Governor asked local priests who this might be and this led to the two telegrams.
Fr William Doyle SJ  (1873 - 1917)

Full post here.

14 Aug 2015

'The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Gospel of John (2003)  Dir. by Philip Saville. Jesus played by Henry Ian Cusick; narrator, Christopher Plummer. [Today's gospel from 1:31 to 2:54]

Gospel John 6:51-58 (NRSV, Catholic Edition, Canada) 
Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Mass in the Trenches, The Great War (1914-18)

During his homily in St Peter's Basilica on 26 April this year at the ordination Mass of 19 new priests Pope Francis said: Indeed, in being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest, and joined to the priesthood of their Bishop, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, to preside at worship, and especially to celebrate the Lord’s Sacrifice.

In using the words 'being configured to Christ' Pope Francis was echoing what both St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI taught.
Full post here.

6 Aug 2014

My great-uncle's death in the Great War, 6 August 1917





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At the grave of my Great-uncle Lawrence Dowd in Potijze Chateau Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium, September 2001. Uncle Larry, my maternal grandmother's older half-brother, was killed on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 1917. I was the first relative to visit his grave, in September 2001.

Potijze Chateau  Cemetery where my Corporal Lawrence Dowd is buried. 
The Great War, World War I, began one hundred years ago this week and has been marked by ceremonies recalling that awful conflict. Here is something I wrote in 2003 and posted in 2008. There are some minor changes and corrections.
‘IN FLANDERS FIELDS’
In September 2001 I visited the grave of my great-uncle Lawrence Dowd who died in action near Ieper (Ypres), Belgium, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 1917. This happened during the Third Battle of Ypres, often called simply 'Passchendaele', that lasted from July to November 1917. He’s buried in one of many war cemeteries in that part of Flanders. My mother’s Uncle Larry, from County Meath, enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. To my deep regret, I never asked my grandmother about her brother, but my mother often told me of her father having heard the ‘banshee’ a day or two before the telegram arrived telling of Larry’s death.    Full post here.

17 Apr 2014

The Stations of the Cross with the Masters; Reflections by Fr William Doyle SJ

Tintoretto, 1566-67, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice


Around the judgement seat are grouped a motley crowd. Men and women of every rank, the high-born Jewish maiden, the rough Samaritan woman; haughty Scribes and proud Pharisees mingle with the common loafer of the great city. Hatred has united them all for one common object; hatred of One Who ever loves them and to their wild fury has only opposed acts of gentle kindness. A mighty scream goes up, a scream of fierce rage and angry fury, such a sound as only could be drawn from the very depths of hell. “Death to Him! Death to the false prophet!” He has spent His life among you doing good – Let Him die! He has healed your sick, given strength to the palsied, sight to your blind – Let Him die! He has raised your dead – Let death be His fate!

El Greco, 1600-05, Museo del Prado, Madrid


Away from the palace now a sad procession is winding. On the faces of the multitude a fiendish joy is written, they have had their wish and now issue forth to glut their eyes on the dying struggles of the suffering innocent One. Painfully He is toiling up the long narrow street, narrower still from the crowds that line the way; each step is agony, each yard of ground He covers a fresh martyrdom of ever increasing suffering. With a refinement of cruelty His enemies have placed upon His shoulders the heavy, rough beams which will be His last painful resting place.
Cruelly the heavy beam weighs upon His mangled flesh and cuts and chafes a long, raw 
sore deep to the very bone.  
Full post here.

9 Mar 2012

'Zeal for your house will devour me'. Sunday Reflections for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B



Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)


An Soiscéal Eoin 2:13-25 (Gaeilge, Irish)

Nuair a bhí Cáisc na nGiúdach in achmaireacht agus chuaigh Íosa suas go Iarúsailéim dá bhrí sin. Fuair sé sa sanctóir lucht ba agus caoirigh agus colmáin a dhíol, agus lucht airgead a mhalartú ina suí ann. Agus rinne sé sciúirse de théada agus thiomáin sé iad go léir amach as an sanctóir, na caoirigh agus na ba chomh maith; scaip sé airgead an lucht mhalartaithe agus leag sé na boird, agus dúirt sé le lucht na gcolmán a dhíol: “Beirigí na nithe sin as seo agus ná déanaigí teach margaidh de theach m’Athar.” Chuimhnigh a dheisceabail go bhfuil sé scríofa: “Déanfaidh díograis do thí mé a ithe.” D’fhreagair na Giúdaigh ansin: “Cén comhartha,” ar siad leis, “atá á thaispeáint agat dúinn mar bhonn lena bhfuil á dhéanamh agat?” D’fhreagair Íosa: “Leagaigí an teampall seo,” ar sé leo, “agus i dtrí lá tógfaidh mé suas arís é.” Dúirt na Giúdaigh á fhreagairt: “Sé bliana agus daichead atá an Teampall seo á thógáil, agus an dtógfaidh tusa é i dtrí lá?” Ach ar theampall a choirp féin a bhí seisean ag labhairt. Nuair a d’aiséirigh sé ó mhairbh, dá bhrí sin, chuimhnigh a dheisceabail go ndúirt sé an chaint seo agus chreid siad sa scrioptúr agus sa chaint a dúirt Íosa. Fad bhí sé in Iarúsailéim le linn féile na Cásca chreid a lán ina ainm nuair a chonaic siad na comharthaí a bhí á ndéanamh aige. Ach Íosa féin, níor thug sé é féin ar iontaoibh dóibh mar gurb aithnid dó iad go léir. Agus nach raibh aon ghá aige go dtabharfadh aon duine fianaise dó i dtaobh an duine. Óir bhí fhios aige féin cad a bhí sa duine.
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The Scripture text the disciples recalled, Zeal for your house will devour me (Ps 69:9 reminds me of part of a letter of St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius and included in the Office of Readings for the feast of the great missionary: I have very often had the notion to go round the universities of Europe, and especially Paris, and to shout aloud everywhere like a madman, and to bludgeon those people who have more learning than love, with these words, ‘Alas, what an immense number of souls are excluded from heaven through your fault and thrust down to hell!’
A heroic Irish Jesuit who found his mission on the Western Front during the Great War (1914-1918), Fr William Doyle SJ, was also 'devoured by zeal for his house', as this extract from his biography by Alfred O’Rahilly shows. I’ve taken it from the post for 5 March 2012 on Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ.
Fr William Doyle SJ (3 March 1873 – 16 August 1917)

It was not long before he had an experience of real danger. On Sunday, 5th March, he said Mass for the 8th Fusiliers. After he had finished (about 9 o’clock) he mounted his bicycle in order to go to the 8th Inniskillings, of whom he also had charge, and say Mass at eleven for them. They were stationed four miles away near the ruined village of Mazingarbe. Fr. Doyle may be left to describe his adventure in his own words.

“On the way I noticed that heavy firing was going on ahead, but it was only when I reached a bend in the road that I realized the enemy were actually shelling the very spot I had to pass. Some soldiers stopped me, saying it was dangerous to go on. At the moment I was wondering what had become of the side of a vacant house which had suddenly vanished in a cloud of smoke, and I was painfully aware of the proximity of high explosive shells.

“Here was a fix! I knew my regiment was waiting in the village for Mass, and also that half of them were going to the trenches that afternoon for the first time; if I did not turn up they would lose Confession and Holy Communion, but the only way to reach them was by the shell-swept road. What really decided me was the thought that I was carrying the Blessed Sacrament, and I felt that, having our Lord Himself with me, no harm could possibly come to me. I mounted the bicycle and faced the music. I don’t want you to think me very brave and courageous, for I confess I felt horribly afraid; it was my baptism of fire, and one needs to grow accustomed to the sound of bursting shells. Just then I was wishing my regiment in Jericho and every German gun at the bottom of the Red Sea or any other hot place.

“Call it a miracle if you will, but the moment I turned the corner the guns ceased firing, and not a shell fell till I was safely in the village Church. My confidence in God’s protection was not misplaced. Naturally I did not know this was going to happen, and it was anything but pleasant riding down the last stretch of road, listening for the scream of the coming shell. Have you ever had a nightmare in which you were pursued by ten mad bulls, while the faster you tried to run, the more your feet stuck in the mud? These were just my feelings as I pedalled down that blessed road which seemed to grow longer and longer the further I went.

“At last I turned the corner, reached the Church, and had just begun Mass when down came the hail of shells once more. One or two must have burst very close, judging by the way the walls shook, but I felt quite happy and quite ready to be blown from the altar, for I saw a fine plump Frenchwoman just behind me; she might have been killed, but I was quite safe!

“I mention this little adventure as I think it will console you, as it has consoled me, showing that all the good prayers are not in vain, and that this is a happy omen of God’s loving protection from all dangers. I have just heard that one, at least, of the men to whom I gave Holy Communion that morning was killed the same night in the trenches.”

Father Willie Doyle’s zeal was to lead to his own death on 16 August 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (Ieper), blown to pieces by a German shell about 15 minutes after he had made his last confession and nearly two years after he had gone to the Western Front as a chaplain in the British army. He was one of around 500,000 from both sides killed or wounded in the battle that lasted from July to November 1917.


 
PRAYER FOR PRIESTS 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.

Gospel John 2:13-25 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers' coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, 'Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father's house into a market.' Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, 'What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?' Jesus answered, 'Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said. During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.

16 Aug 2011

Death of heroic Irish priest 94 years ago today in The Great War

Fr William Doyle SJ
3 March 1873 - 16 August 1917

This account of Father Willie Doyle's death in Ypres/Ieper, Belgium, while serving as a chaplain in the British Army during The Great War is from Father William Doyle S.J. by Professor Alfred O'Rahilly and taken from the blog Remembering Father William Doyle SJ. Fr Doyle was from Dalkey, County Dublin.


Fr. Doyle had been engaged from early morning in the front line, cheering and consoling his men, and attending to the many wounded. Soon after 3 p.m. he made his way back to the Regimental Aid Post which was in charge of a Corporal Raitt, the doctor having gone back to the rear some hours before. Whilst here word came in that an officer of the Dublins had been badly hit, and was lying out in an exposed position. Fr. Doyle at once decided to go out to him, and left the Aid Post with his runner, Private Mclnespie, and a Lieutenant Grant. Some twenty minutes later, at about a quarter to four, Mclnespie staggered into the Aid Post and fell down in a state of collapse from shell shock. Corporal Raitt went to his assistance and after considerable difficulty managed to revive him. His first words on coming back to consciousness were: “Fr. Doyle has been killed!” Then bit by bit the whole story was told. Fr. Doyle had found the wounded officer lying far out in a shell crater. He crawled out to him, absolved and anointed him, and then, half dragging, half carrying the dying man, managed to get him within the line. Three officers came up at this moment, and Mclnespie was sent for some water. This he got and was handing it to Fr. Doyle when a shell burst in the midst of the group, killing Fr. Doyle and the three officers instantaneously, and hurling Mclnespie violently to the ground. Later in the day some of the Dublins when retiring came across the bodies of all four. Recognising Fr. Doyle, they placed him and a Private Meehan, whom they were carrying back dead, behind a portion of the Frezenberg Redoubt and covered the bodies with sods and stones.


On 14 August Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ carried a photo of his last letter to his father, written two days before his death. Read the full post here.

I first learned about Father Willie Doyle from Sister Stanislaus, the Irish Sister of Charity who was principal of the boys' kindergarten I attended in Stanhope St, Dublin. She also prepared us for First Holy Communion. I learned mor about him in my first year in St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, when I entered the seminary there 50 years ago. Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ is a blog that is a work of love and a reminder to me of what a priest is called to be,


The Fear of Fear is the greatest of all Fears

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