The above is a picture I recently took while walking and praying my Divine Office (Psalms) at a rather-empty beach in Florida. It always brings me so much peace.
Most of you do not know this, but several times in seminary I felt called to leave my studies for the Catholic priesthood and go live as a homeless, celibate, Catholic preacher in front of abortion centers in Florida. I felt called to live as a mendicant (beggar) without marriage, but also without Holy Orders. Now as a priest doing some of those things as a monk-missionary on my own, I have also been overwhelmed by the issues of politics that pertains only to the priesthood.
Some of my recent crosses have been getting raked over the coals by the liberal media, figuring out what happened with an issue with my 501c3 on a financial issue, attempting to get dental insurance and dealing with an incessant cough from stress. As I have said on podcasts before, when I was a young priest I had no smart phone, no blog, no podcast, no Facebook, no Twitter. I honestly wish I were a homeless man walking the beaches as a beggar. But I can’t abandon the Mass or my teaching mission now.
The following is a story of ancient monks as posted recently by Fr. Abernethy that tells us not to be too obsessed with past vocational decisions. My suggestion is to read it slowly, especially if you spend too much time looking in the Rear View Window of life.
The devil appeared to three monks and said to them: if I gave you power to change
something from the past, what would you change?
The first of them, with great apostolic fervor, replied: “I would prevent you from making Adam and Eve fall into sin so that humanity could not turn away from God.”
The second, a man full of mercy, said to him: “I would prevent you from God and you will condemn yourself eternally”.
The third of them was the simplest and, instead of responding to the tempter, he got on his knees, made the sign of the cross and prayed saying: “Lord, free me from the temptation of what could be and was not”.
The devil, giving a raucous cry and shuddering with pain, vanished.
The other two, surprised, said to him: “Brother, why have you responded like this?”
He replied: “First: we must never dialogue with the devil . Second: Nobody in the world has the power to change the past. Third: Satan’s interest was not to prove our virtue, but to trap us in the past, so that we neglect the present, the only time God gives us His grace and we can cooperate with Him to fulfill His will “.
Of all the demons, the one that catches the most men and prevents them from being happy is that of “What could have been and was not”.
The past is left to the mercy of God and the future to his Providence. Only the present is in our hands. “Live in the moment”