Wednesday 12 July 2023

Pamphlets for the Faithful - Fr Willie Doyle, SJ

Pamphlets for the Faithful
Fr John S Hogan (Introduction)
ISBN 9781915544841
eISBN 9781915544858

Wow what an excellent read. I have read two volumes about Father Willie Doyle SJ, and one a selection of his letters. I have been Praying for his cause for a little while now, so when I heard the announcement of this volume I was eagerly anticipating it. I did not know anything about it when I began reading. The description of this volume is:

““One of the vital concerns for Fr Willie Doyle in his life as a Christian and a priest was holiness, not only seeking it for himself, but encouraging it and supporting it in those he served”, writes Fr John Hogan in his Introduction. Indeed, the invitation to perfection is held out to all, and Fr Willie in his pamphlets offers practical wisdom to both laity and religious in pursuing the life of holiness.

With a brief introduction to Fr Willie's life and writings written by Fr John Hogan, Diocesan Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God, Fr Willie Doyle, Pamphlets for the Faithful presents all of Fr Willie's published works, originally written in the form of pamphlets. These pamphlets cover such topics as:

the dignity and beauty of religious life.
advice on how to discern whether one has a vocation.
a short guide for priests on offering the Mass.
the great fruits that retreats produce for the laity and how to preserve their beneficial effects.
practical advice for laity and spiritual directors in combatting that most pestering vice: scrupulosity.

Even though some of the pamphlets have as their immediate audience those who are pursuing priesthood or the religious life, they are indeed “pamphlets for the faithful.” Regardless of one’s state in life, all five pamphlets, Fr Doyle’s only published works, continue to guide souls in every state of life down the way of perfection.”

The booklets contained in this volume are:

Retreats for Men and Boys (1909)
Vocations (1913)
Rubrics of the Mass (1914)
Shall I Be A Priest? (1915)
Scruples and Their Treatment (posthumously)

I did not highlight any passages in the booklets my first time through this book. But I did highlight several passages by Fr John Hogan, ocds the Diocesan Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God, Fr Willie Doyle, SJ from the introduction. They are:

“One of the vital concerns for Fr Willie Doyle in his life as a Christian and a priest was holiness, not only seeking it for himself, but encouraging it and supporting it in those he served. The five pamphlets he authored, his only published works, have at their heart, sanctification through the service and worship of God.”

“When he embraced the religious life, he did so out of love for Christ and for others, centring his consecrated life and priesthood on an act of martyrdom offered to Christ through the hands of Our Lady as he prepared to take his first vows in 1893.”

“His death on the battlefield at Passchendaele in Belgium during World War I, on 16 August 1917, as he was trying to save two wounded soldiers, was the martyrdom he desired: offering his life for Christ and his neighbour. In essence, this was the nature of Willie Doyle’s holiness.”

“Thanks to a natural gift of self-awareness and St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises which he loved, Willie was aware of his weaknesses and the barrier they could construct between him and God and God’s will for him; he knew that if he was to make any progress in the spiritual life, he had to battle against those weaknesses.”

“Fr Willie Doyle’s reputation for holiness has endured since his death in 1917. The outpouring of devotion to him in the decades after his death continues to this day as new generations discover his life, his vibrant personality, his heroism and his writings. The various biographies written over the years reproduce his private writings – his letters and thoughts as preserved in spiritual diaries and notes, which he wanted destroyed following his death; these five pamphlets are the works he intentionally wrote to assist souls in their spiritual lives. In a sense, this is the legacy Willie wanted to leave behind, so they are precious for that reason alone, although his legacy is far greater in terms of his life and holiness. The republication of these pamphlets, together in one volume for the first time, is indeed welcome not only for the matters they deal with, but perhaps even more for the insights they give us into a man whom many hope will be declared a saint one day; a man whose vibrant life and personality is as accessible and endearing to us now as it was to those who knew him in life.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Retreats for Men and Boys
     Retreats for Workingmen
Synopsis of the Rubrics & Ceremonies of Holy Mass
Shall I Be a Priest?
     “Out of the Mouth of Babes”
     Dignity of the Priesthood
     Power of the Priesthood
     A Priest’s Work
     Can I Be a Priest?
     The Devil’s Traps
     A Word to Parents
Scruples and Their Treatment
     General Considerations
     Particular Remedies
     Storm the Forerunner of Lasting Balm
     A Favourite Stratagem of the Evil One
     Four Complications of Scrupulosity
     Scrupulous and Dangerous Acts of Virtue
     Doubtful Security: Unshaken Security

I absolutely loved the section on the Rubrics of the mass. Even thought I have seen likely over 1000 masses in my lifetime I have never consider how precisely the actions, prayers and even silences are proscribed. I love being at mass and paying attention and will now have a greater appreciation. The work on scruples was fascinating to read. The one on being a priest was both informative and just as applicable today. But the one on retreats. I wish this was available as a stand alone I would keep copies to give to friends and family and invite them when I try and make an annual silent retreat! There is so much good material in that section and the whole volume.

This volume was an amazing read. I was very blessed to have read it and though the 5 booklets contained within were all published over 100 years ago they are of great value to us today. This is a volume I can recommend easily. And one that any church, home, or school library would benefit from having a copy. An excellent resource. I strongly urge you to pick it up and give it a try.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by and about Fr Willie Doyle:

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