How would you feel if your life is radically changed by society, opposite to what you want it to be?
Most people are sincere to plan their life according to what they see as fit to their life goals and values. But sometimes, society and historical events alter this plan and turn it opposite or substantially different from what the person intends it be.
I remember the late Father Diego whom I personally knew when we were still studying in the same college seminary. He was an intelligent, honest, and God-fearing seminarian. I predicted that he would be a good and holy priest, judging from his personality and piety. Few years later, I heard that he was ordained priest and was doing well in his ministry.
But my prediction turned out to be totally different from what actually happened to him, some few years after his ordination. I didn’t expect the tragic ending of his life. He encountered personal and pastoral problems in his ministry as a diocesan priest. He met a woman whom he didn’t know to have secret vices. He left the priesthood and live with her. Soon he discovered that his partner had a secret relationship with another man, addicted to cigarettes and gambling. He also faced poverty after he left the ministry. As an ex-priest, he could not find a stable and high-paying job. He was also lonely and had lost contact with his brother priests and old friends in his parish.
As his personal and economic problems piled up, Father Diego suffered a serious stroke and became totally confined to a wheelchair. The infidelity of his partner intensified when he became totally disabled. Neglected with no money and friends who could help and cheer him up, Father Diego died at an early age of around 40 years old. What appeared to be a life of service and holiness for Father Diego became a life of suffering, frustration, and even excommunication by the Church he loved.
The German sociologist Max Weber speaks about the 2 consequences of human action and decision: The intended and the unintended effects. The intended effect is the purpose of a person’s action, while the unintended effect is the unforeseen effect of his or her action. According to Weber, one cannot avoid the unintended effects of human action. What is intended by the actor for his or her life may be good and noble but because of historical events beyond control, the result of the action maybe negative or opposite to what he or she intended. Father Diego is a deeply religious and sincere person who intended to follow Christ and serve people in the Church. But because of problems and life circumstances beyond his control, what he intended for his life did not occur but the unintended consequences such as leaving the priesthood, neglect and infidelity of his girlfriend, and frustration. Indeed, life can be cruel if one is not prepared for the future.
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