The one thing necessary

A young friend of St. Philip Neri came to see him, and knelt by the old priest’s chair as his custom was. In reply to inquires, he said he was studying for an exam. and hoped to do well in it. The saint listened attentively to his plans for the future, nodding encouragement, while his hand played with the lad’s hair.

‘And after the exam.; what then?’

‘Then I shall try for a degree in law.’

‘And then?’

‘I want to be a barrister: everyone tells me I’m cut out for it.’

‘And then?’

‘Well, if I make a name as a barrister, I could marry and settle down and be a rich man.’

‘And then?’

‘Oh, well, I might hope to end up as a judge, and obtain some high office in the court of Rome.’

‘And then?’

‘Some day I should retire with a big pension and be able to enjoy an honourable old age.’

‘And then?’

‘Then? Well, Father, some day I suppose I should have to die.’

The saint drew the boy’s head closer and whispered in his ear:

And then?

This talk made a lasting impression on the youth, whose name was Francesco Zazzara, and later he threw up his worldly ambitions as a danger to his soul, and joined St. Philip’s Congregation of the Oratory.

– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater, Catechism Stories Part I: the Creed (1939)