While sending out the twelve and seventy disciples to the mission, Jesus “charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics” (Mark 6:8-9; cf. Luke 10:1,4). The summary of all these conditions is detachment. Detachment gives us the liberty to concentrate on our ministry without being distracted or controlled by things of the world. Therefore, I argue that detachment is the first step to happiness.
Our beloved diocese is rural and poor. If we are not desperate to ride an expensive car, to wear the latest fashion, to use expensive luxury brands, would our honest income not be enough even to support our family? Why are we competing among ourselves and with the laity on who uses the most expensive luxury item? Why should we rate a priest positively based on his wealth rather than the efficacy of his priestly ministry? Why do we mock those who choose to live a simple life and manage their little resources based on their honest source of income? Even when our family is financially stable, why do we insist on being the breadwinner of our family, thereby putting pressure on ourselves and our finances?
If we do not spend money for libidinal reasons, would we be forced to seek money through inordinate means? Why should we starve ourselves just to please a girl whose presence in our lives is often counterproductive to our pastoral efficiency and spirituality? Why should we starve our fellow priests because of a girl who will readily abandon us and will not be with us in moments of difficulty? Why should we fight ourselves because of a girl who will ridicule us among her peers?
No doubt, we can be rich from gifts people give us, however, no priest or seminarian receives a gift for libidinal reasons except the donor is complicit in the act. Interestingly, those in rich dioceses are not exempt. They are preoccupied with buying more expensive luxury items, holidaying annually in choice places around the world, or even building houses for people for libidinal reasons. Indeed, human needs are insatiable and there is no limit to the show of wealth because expectations continue to increase. Space tourism is now the new benchmark for the super-rich; an exclusive club that billionaires aspire to join.
The life of a priest is simple, and the priest who is not in competition with anybody to display wealth and luxury; the one who is not in bondage with any woman or man will always be happy because there is no pressure. In my eight years as a priest, I have been privileged to live with six old priests in three different countries. One thing is clear in all cases—they were happy at their old age because they lived simple lives, were not attached nor controlled by any woman (or man), and they never lost the joy of prayer and administration of the sacraments. Happiness and peace at old age are not by accident, they are choices one makes by early preparation. The preparation is not by acquiring wealth nor academic degrees but by clinging to the core of our priestly vocation and cherishing it above every other thing.
May God continue to help us.🙏🏾