Today I went to a discernment group led by my diocese’s vocations director. Discussion, followed by Mass, Adoration, and lunch. During the discussion, the vocations director told a story:
“Tell me who acted correctly in this story. In a medieval city, two Bishops exit the cathedral to find a raucous procession going on in the streets. They decide to see what the commotion is about, and to their dismay there is a nude prostitute being paraded around at the front of the procession. The first bishop immediately covers his eyes, but the second just stares at the woman. The first bishop says, “Quickly, brother! Cover your eyes or you will be led into sin!”, but his companion continues to stare. Finally the first bishop looks up to see why the other is still looking, and he’s shocked to see tears running down his face. The second bishop says at last, “I don’t understand why someone so beautiful would act as if she was so cheap.”
The point of the story is that both bishops acted correctly according to their holiness. The first bishop knew that if he looked, he would sin. Therefor he covered his eyes and tried to protect his friend as well. However, the second bishop, possessing an even greater amount of grace in this instance, did not sin in looking at the woman because he saw her as Jesus did.
In our own journey (specifically in discernment, but applicable to life in general), we should do the same. If we have to grace to overcome sin and be like Jesus as the second bishop did, then we should use it. If we lack that grace, we should do what we must to avoid sin as the first bishop did.
For me, this means cutting back on time spent on the internet. While often I am doing good things such as writing, schoolwork, keeping in touch with people I care about, or even keeping up correspondence with the various religious orders I’m considering, more often I’m not doing much of anything. I need to spend more time with books and face to face contact with people.