Do You Follow a Path of No Regrets? by John Cali

This blog post is a bit unusual—it’s a personal story I’ve never fully shared publicly. But I felt guided to share it with you today.

As most of you know, two days ago Pope Benedict XVI stepped down as leader of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. His February 9 resignation announcement took many by surprise, within and outside the church.

I’ve closely followed the news about Benedict since that day—that’s uncharacteristic of me, as I pay scant attention to the mainstream news.

Although I left the Catholic Church years ago, I was riveted by all the events related to Benedict’s resignation. The resignation has only added to all the changes, including the scandals and controversies, swirling around the church in recent years.

Last night I was lying in bed mulling over all this, thinking thoughts and feeling feelings I hadn’t had in many years. I felt a sadness I didn’t quite understand. But as I lay there awake beyond my usual sleep time, the answer came to me.

I realized I still carried an emotional attachment to the Catholic Church—a sense of community with it, a sense of love for it—I was not aware of till last night.

My thoughts drifted back to that late summer day many years ago. Father Tom, our parish priest, was a close family friend. Some months earlier, with my consent and that of my parents, he’d signed me up to go into the seminary to become a priest.

I was barely a teenager, and realized I was way too young to be making life-changing choices like that. I told my parents I wanted to back out. With their consent I called Father Tom to give him the news. He was disappointed but he understood.

That was the beginning of the end of my Catholic days. Some years later I completely cut my ties with the church—or so I thought, till last night.

I have no regrets. I love the spiritual path I’m on, the work I do, the wonderful people I’ve come to know and love through my work. I’ve never been happier in this lifetime.

But last night, just for a few moments, I wondered what my life would have been like had I chosen to become a priest. I believe there are no mistakes. But still I wondered….

Related links:
A God of Hatred
Celibacy and Other Vows
On the Wings of Spirit
The Light of God


Have you ever asked yourself what your life would have been like if you had made different choices, followed different paths when you were younger? Any regrets? Any insights? Please share your thoughts and comments with us below.

We welcome your comments and thoughtful opinions, whether you agree or disagree with us. Please keep your comments polite and relevant to the topic of this post. If needed, we’ll edit for clarity. Also, we’ll delete anything we consider inappropriate.

18 Responses

  1. Louise Nusbaum

    A review is simply a moment of confirming your choices. Your moment provided you with the light to appreciate the path you have followed and where it has led you — a place of peace, love, and joy.


  2. Joseph

    Connections really can never be broken where the mind is concerned unless you discover a way of wiping the slate clean of all memories. There is also the possibility that the ‘connection’ you are feeling are past life based, not this one. And on an even deeper level it could be a bleed through of an alternate reality where you are the priest you envisioned those many years ago. 🙂

  3. Sarah Drury

    I love what Frederic wrote. Your experiences with the Catholic Church will always have stayed with you at some level or other, even if subconsciously. Your spirituality was obviously a deep thing for you even in childhood. I do believe there are no mistakes, only new doors opening regarding whichever choices we make. If we are looking backwards then we are not seeing the fresh grass on the new path we are treading. But our ‘past’ will always shape our present in some way. Whether we realise it or not we will have learned from it. It is lovely that you are able to feel a sense of community and even love for the Church. I can imagine you would be a supportive and amazing priest.
    I must admit I do look back sometimes … I was offered a place at a musical college in the city aged 16 but we had no money at that time so I couldn’t follow that dream and ended up at university studying education and music, 3 years later. I often wonder which direction my life would have taken if I’d been able to follow my heart back then.

    As George E. Woodberry wrote: “Old times never come back and I suppose its just as well. What comes back is a new morning every day in the year, and that’s better.”

  4. Martha

    The whole situation with this pope to me is very weird. I guess more will be revealed. The Truth will set us free. Whatever you are feeling, John, may it be bathed in Love.

    With love,


    p.s. just to be clear, I was only half joking in my previous comment. I do still have plenty of regrets which I am still grieving. The only antidote is more self love, self compassion and self forgivemess. Unconditional love for me and all my choices. This will make it easier for me to forgive others for their transgressions; especially the ones that hurt me or affected my life profoundly.

  5. Cristina d'Ornellas

    I too have left the catholic religion to become a spiritual being, or person. I love this life, I am very happy with it and I can´t imagine myself going back to church every sunday. Every time I went to church I felt so empty, so separate from what was going on there, in mass. I felt I didn´t belong there.
    Now I go to satsangs at Rhada Soami every saturday and I like it very much. I am not yet a vegetarian and I find it very hard to meditate every day, though I know it is very good and that I should do it. So because of this two things I cannot yet become a member of Rhada Soami, but I am ok just attending the satsans and reading the books about the Masters.

  6. Frederic

    Thank you for sharing this,John.

    For me you can often be a shepherd in my life, you are connected to God, and you channel Divine wisdom. So in my opinion you are the perfect expression of what a priest can be. From that perspective, you never drifted away from your soul path. The rest is just technical details 😉

    Much love!

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Frederic, for your kind words!

      Much love to you too, dear brother,

    • Barbara

      They’d be fairly drastic “technical details” for me, Frederic. *Smiles*

      Barbara x

  7. Micki

    Hi John,

    I think everyone has questioned or thought what if I had done this, or married so and so or taken a different career path, I certainly have, but as I have got older I realise or become aware I am exactly where I am suppose to be and now when I look back over my life it all makes sense.

    To me life is an experience and as I get older, I am enjoying it more and more.

    Love and hugs to you John

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Micki.

      I agree — we are all exactly where we’re supposed to be. Life really can be more enjoyable as we get older. I wish everyone knew that.

      Lots of love and hugs,

  8. Conshana

    The fruits of a long lifetime of pondering, questioning and Prayer:
    Guilt and Regret are worthless, in the long term scheme of Life.
    Life does not end with physical death, it just travels “to another room of the House”
    We, ALL of us, have done the best we could with the knowledge, understanding and wisdom we had at the moment of choice or decision. That does NOT mean we would make the same choice, given the opportunity again.
    The only “Bad” choice or decision is that from which the lesson was not learned. ALL other choices work to the best of all concerned, IF they are permitted to do so.
    To be forgiven, one must learn to forgive themselves FIRST. (I firmly believe that this lesson, as well as the lesson of Acceptance, are the hardest lessons to learn.)
    Were it not for the choices and decisions I made, I would not be where I am NOW.
    That I am where I am NOW, is by choice. AND, I have the privilege of making different choices, even now.
    Thank You, Spirit. For ALL that I AM. And that includes the warts.

    • John Cali

      Thank you, Conshana, for your insights. We are all definitely where we need to be at this present moment.

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