I look at my old journals now and again and enjoy re-discovering old insights.
Once when I was visiting a Marian shrine in Maryland back somewhere around 1990, an elderly priest saw me kneeling in prayer. He walked over and put his hand on my shoulder, saying to me,
You’ve got it right, son. Pray. Be a man of prayer. All the good God wants to do through you depends on only one thing. Not your talents or smarts. On your yes. When you pray, say, “Here I am, Lord, send me. Use me.” I spent too much of my life living others’ lives, trying to fix them and make them good. I want them to be good, but I know now only God does that. If we let him have his way in us he can do anything he wants through us. Doing a thousand impressive deeds without God is nice, but picking up a pin with God is real power. The devil’s unimpressed with our good works but he’s terrified of our prayer because prayer fills all we do with God. That’s why [the devil] tries to convince you not to pray. What you’re doing now is the most important thing you will ever do. Do it lots. Don’t worry about successful prayer, just be faithful to prayer. Say yes, okay? God bless you.
He blessed me and walked away.
Reminds me of The Brothers Karamazov, when Fr. Zossima says:
If you had shone, your light would have lighted the way for others, and the one who did wickedness would perhaps not have done so in your light. And even if you do shine, but see that people are not saved even with your light, remain steadfast, and do not doubt the power of the heavenly light; believe that if they are not saved now, they will be saved later. And if they are not saved, their sons will be saved, for your light will not die, even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains.