The lifeless things of this world offer no spiritual satisfaction, yet we often sell ourselves off to things or people by giving them power over our hearts. It is easy to feel abandoned or hurt by those to whom we’ve given power. If we need affirmation from others, we take the chance that we empower demons who would use our personal needs to keep us from focusing on that which is of eternal importance.
Ownership of my heart should be reserved for God alone. Evil spirits use whatever means they can to make you feel abandoned, discounted, or unloved by others, and by doing so you allow demons to own your heart.
Service to the Church does not protect a man from the demons of pride. I, like so many priests before me, have learned that I must guard my heart. We clergy can easily be distracted from our service to God if we allow ourselves to become envious of the recognition other priests get from the bishop. If a priest feels his work for the Church goes unnoticed by his bishop, his ministry can die on the spot. I’ve witnessed many a brother priest lose his enthusiasm for ministry when he’s seen other—often much younger—clergy raised in rank while he’s passed over. If we force ourselves to see God’s will in this as a way of humbling us, we will ultimately gain that which is of eternal value: the Pearl of Great Price. Rank, awards, and recognition are all nice, but not if they come at the price of having lost our soul.
Priests are in service to God, so they are particularly susceptible to the attacks of demons, for the evil one wants to lessen the impact of our service to God’s people by attacking our feelings of self-worth. Like all people, if we clergy keep our focus on God, we don’t need the love of our bishops or the respect of other clergy. God’s love is sufficient, for only our relationship with God has lasting and eternal value.
Sometimes we have to pull ourselves back from others and enter into the Silence. This self-imposed exile is the spiritual retreat that helps us focus on what we have in God.