Monday, January 2, 2012

War Horse and Fr. William Doyle, SJ

My family and I took a few hours this weekend to relax at the movies and we chose to see Steven Spielberg's War Horse, an epic story about a young English man, Albert and his horse, Joey, who served during World War I. It was an excellent movie, a touching story with beautiful scenery and an even more beautiful animal. The war scenes were a bit intense which I imagine was the reason for the Pg-13 rating as the rest of the movie was very family friendly. I was deeply moved and cried throughout the entire show. My favorite scene was that of a priest distributing communion in the trenches before battle. My son Justin, who was sitting on the other side of Jack, reached across Jack to nudge me wanting to be sure that I noticed the priest in the movie. I was certain that the priest was a portrayal of Fr. William Doyle, SJ, who was an Irish priest who served as a front line chaplain during World War I. The wonderful book, Merry In God, is a collection of his journals and letters written during the war and it offers great insight into the horrors of that war and the beauty of the soul of a holy priest who served God and his fellow soldiers very well. To learn more about Fr. William Doyle, visit this blog, Remembering Fr. William Doyle, SJ.

What follows is a beautiful prayer for priests written by Fr. Doyle:

Prayer for Priests by Fr. William Doyle, SJ

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.

And, another of his breathtaking prayers:

"O Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Who would not love You, who would not give their heart's blood for You, if only once they realized the depth and the breadth and the realness of Your burning love? Why not then make every human heart a burning furnace of love for You, so that sin would become an impossibility, sacrifice a pleasure and a joy, virtue the longing of every soul, so that we should live for love, dream of love, breathe Your love, and at last die of a broken heart of love, pierced through and through with the shaft of love, the sweetest gift of God to man."

"I must eagerly welcome every little pain, suffering, small sickness, trouble, cross of any kind, as coming straight to me from the Sacred Heart. Am I not your loving victim, my Jesus?"


  1. Mike and I saw this film yesterday....cried through the whole second half...beautiful film.

    Beautiful prayer for priest...beautiful.!!

  2. The trailers for this film have been compelling, but it's been years since I've been to a movie - in fact, my youngest reminded me that the last film we saw in the theater was "Finding Nemo". You have piqued my interest in this so perhaps I'll end the drought. Happy and blessed New Year Anne!

  3. What a neat connection you made, Anne! Were you able to confirm whether it's him? I'm going to order the Merry In God...It sounds right up my "veteran" alley;-) Wishing you a very blessed New Year!

  4. Thanks DG, Joyce and Tiffany for your comments. Tiffany, I don't know for sure that it was Fr. Doyle in the film and I suppose it wasn't, but that's who I immediately thought of when I saw the priest in the film. But just the fact that a priest was shown in that short scene was wonderful! The book Merry in God might be hard to find-I think it took me a while to track it down through the library system last year with the help of a fabulous librarian. But if you check out the website mentioned in my post you will find lots of wonderful information on Fr. Doyle. God bless!