Should Have, Could Have, Would Have

I should have done this, I could have done that, I would have done the other thing. We have all said one, or all, of these at some point in our lives. For example, in my case, it would be “I should have never strayed from the church”; “I could have listened to my father and got a job working for the government”; “I would never have been unfaithful if I knew the guilt it would bring me.”


First I will say this, what’s done is done and I can’t change what’s done. And this, I believe, is another one of those things we need to understand in order to be a good Catholic.

Too many times we look back at decisions we have made and wish we would have made different choices. None of us is perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be. If He did, He wouldn’t have given us free choice when we were created. Take Adam and Eve for example. After they ate the forbidden fruit don’t you think they were both saying “We could have not listened to the serpent and we would still be living the high life in the Garden of Eden.: “We should have not blamed God for this and we wouldn’t have to be working our fingers to the bone tilling the soil.” And the big one from Adam, “If I would have not listened to that darn woman I wouldn’t be in this predicament.”

But, they made the decisions they did. As much as they tried to deflect blame to others, Eve to the serpent, Adam to Eve and God, it was their choice. They were responsible for their own actions.

The good news is God does forgive us if we make a decision because of sin. And the even better news is God won’t give up trying to get us to make good decisions. So, how do we make good decisions? Simple, we must always choose good over evil.

“But”, I hear you saying, “we are surrounded by others who have different ideas about what good and evil are. Everyone decides what is best for them and then sets their moral compass based on that.”

Yes, this is true, we live in a world of moral relativism. But (here is where the how we can be good Catholics comes in) it is up to us as Catholics (and all Christians) to change that. We need to work to right that moral compass. Whether it is through something a big as working to change abortion laws, to something as small as standing up against that co-worker who is being treated unfairly.

It is up to us to change the world back to where it should be. True, it might seem like an impossible job, but if each one of us takes the initiative, working in small steps, it can be done. That is how Satan managed to change things to the way they are, we need to do the same to change it back.

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

(Matthew 19:26, RSV2CE)

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