When asked why he became a monk, the desert
father always related this unusual story.
"I am the son of a pagan priest. One
day I secretly entered the temple where my
father used to offer sacrifices to the idols
and there I saw Satan together with his devils
having a council meeting. One of the devils
entered before Satan and gave his report.
"I have just come from a certain village.
There I managed to create a lot of problems.
Through a series of rumours that I spread,
families were broken. Peace was shattered.
Blood was shed. Reconciliation is basically
impossible at this stage." "Excellent,"
Satan replied. "But how long did all
this take you?" "Thirty days,"
he replied. Satan was not happy with the
time frame. "Take him out and beat him.
You need to learn to do your work more speedily."
Satan treats his subjects harshly!
Another devil came in and stated that he
had just returned from over the sea where
he had brought about a great tempest and
related how he sunk ships and many people
were livid and blasphemed against God and
died desperate in their sin. "Very good"
Satan replied, "but how long did it
take you to carry out this work?" "Twenty
days," replied this devil. Again Satan
was not satisfied. "Take him out and
beat him. You employed too much time to do
A third devil arrived and this one yet spoke
about the calamity he brought about in a
family that were closely knit together. They
have now come to hate each other through
the mischief of the evil one. "Good"
replied Satan, "but how long did it
take you to do this?" "Ten days,"
he replied. "Take him out and beat him.
You took too long just for that!"
The last devil arrived and after stooping
down in front of Satan, he recounted how
he had come from the desert where a number
of Christians lived an ascetic life of prayer
and penance. "I have been working hard
for ten years against this monk. Finally
last night, I managed to bring to a halt
his prayers. Afterwards he fell into the
sin of lust!" When Satan heard this,
he stood up, embraced this younger devil,
took off his crown and placed it on his head.
Congratulating him, he announced to everyone.
"This devil deserves my place. He has
done the best job of all! Impeding someone
from prayer is the most worthy cause in our
kingdom of darkness. He has employed ten
years of his existence for something really
"When I saw this", the monk said,
"I said to myself. A life of prayer
is a noble life. Perhaps the most noble.
God will help me. So I decided to come here
in the desert and become a monk."
Let us 'waste' our time praying more. Our
parishes, families, convents, life would
be much better off.
My mother once told me: "Edwin, since
the very day you first entered the convent,
I never stopped reciting, every single day,
three Hail Marys for you, so that the Lord
may grant you the grace to persevere in your
This is why I am still a priest. Prayer is
powerful. Poor devil. He has no chance.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
granted for any non-commercial use,
that the content is unaltered from
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