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 your mission!”
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 precious!”
“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 vocation”.
This is why I am still a priest. Prayer is powerful. Poor devil. He has no chance.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.