'Ready to work blindfolded'

From Ronald Knox's meditation "Our Lord and the Rich Young Man":

[The rich young man] went away sorrowing; the incident, you would think, was closed; the refused invitation might just as well never have been made. Two hundred and fifty years passed, and those words, read out in church, reached the ears of another rich young man; he went straight out of church, sold all that he had, and went to live in the desert; St. Anthony, the great eternal model of Christian monasticism. Much oftenest, I think, you will find that our influence is most powerful where it is least direct, where we had no intention of exercising it. We are so curiously built, that the thing we are especially bent on doing is the thing we fail to do; we think too much about it, hesitate, lose our nerve, and make a mess of it. Nothing is more common, I think, in any kind of pastoral work than to find that you have failed over the people you specially wanted to make a good job of, and meanwhile you have made an impression on somebody you didn't suspect of taking any notice.... [D]o what your hands find to do; and then, when you are alone with God in your prayer, tell him that you want to be of use to those souls he means you to be of use to, those and no others. Tell him that you are ready to work for him blindfolded, and wait till the day of judgment before you ask what the result of your work was.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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