I think anyone short of St. Paul would ask himself this upon occasion. I ask it perhaps daily.
I know I do good work. But it's the old Ignatian for the greater glory of God part that's the rub. And besides, the good I do is mixed with a bunch of bad.
These matters aside, I have to take stock here and there and say to myself: here's the difference I can do, here is the difference I did. I have learned that, for sake of sanity and perseverance, you have to think small. The smaller the better. Don't think about writing the book that will finally definitely refute all errors and heresies. Think of responding to one thing, of presenting the truth on just one matter. Perhaps once a day.
There are friends of mine who do tireless work for the pro-life movement. I think of one mother in particular whom, it seems to me, spends all of her non-mothering time, witnessing online by arguing with pro-choicers. Is she ever going to convince them all? Not in a million years and not without water-boarding (which is not all that pro-life anyway).
Evil is well financed, says the holy priest. I am just one guy. I am not the most dynamic person, charismatic, attractive. And I am poor. Nevertheless, I am one of the most erudite forty-year-olds around: I decided to become that way at about fifteen years of age. So I need to play to my strength, and so I do. (Oh, and I am a poor organizer and financial guy.)
So, what do I do? Simply concentrate on teaching the Gospel perhaps by no other means than refuting one error per day to one person at a time. Nor need these truths be the most grandiose ones.
Let me give three examples here, and consider that these make up for this week so far:
1) The Gospels that the Church recognizes as authentic are the most ancient ones. (That doesn't, of course, mean that they are for this reason true.)
2) The Church does not have a position on extra-terrestrial life. (It's commitment to Aristotelian hylomorphism means that it declares that a soul is present when reasoning happens, and so if a thing reasons, it has a soul, thus, making the problem of aliens not much of a problem.)
3) NFP is linked to success in marriage; contraception to failure.
There, that wasn't too difficult was it? There's no need to get too hot and bothered about anything. Some people actually want to find the truth. Don't bother with any other type other person.
I don't know if my life and 'ministry' has made a difference to anyone in the world. I can't even say that 'I would like to think it does.' I don't want to think anything other than what's true. My life doesn't need to make a difference. I want good for my family, good for the Church and good for the world, but I don't need it to come from me. I used to need it that way. Now, as long as I am faithful, making a difference is almost irrelevant to me.
Almost, but not not altogether, because if I know something is working, I will do that. If I know it is not, I will try something else. Wanting good for my family, the Church and the world requires trying to bring it about when I know I have it in my ability to do so. I don't know if the truth has the ability to win hearts by itself or not. I see a lot of people running after any number of stupid things. And yet, is this only because there are too few voices of reason out there, taking the time to simply say what needs to be said, not yelling it, just calmly articulating it?