Posted September 14, 2010 in My Dear Family:
Failure: A Path to Success

by Catherine Doherty.

How often do we look at ourselves and feel that we are total failures? We grow older, we look at our lives, and we don’t feel there is anything in them worth recording. We feel we have been utter failures.

That is the moment when we should go to Golgotha and look at Jesus on the Cross. There is no greater failure than Jesus Christ. In fact, he was the "perfect" failure.

Yes, let us face that word failure head-on, mind-on, heart-on, because it is a devastating word in our vocabulary. It doesn’t lead us anywhere except to various doctors, either of body or of mind.

Let us get away from that soul-searing word and understand that, within its letters, it holds fantastic deeds of valor, extraordinary acts of holiness, and depths of love that are unprobed by human hearts and unheard by human ears. So let’s ask ourselves what failure really is.

What is this strange word that everybody is so worried about? What is this word which we equate with a loss of face, as the Chinese would say?

What is this word that says that we don’t amount to much, that we aren’t living up to that strange yardstick which the devil has fashioned for us on this North American continent—the yardstick of production?

None of us are failures, dearly beloved, unless we make ourselves so. What we call "failure" in ordinary life is actually a stepping stone to success.

You can’t become proficient in anything unless you fail at it again and again and again. You just can’t! It takes a lot of tries to learn to make a clay pot. It takes many a thread to make beautiful embroidery. Failure and time are married to each other; the offspring they produce are beauty and joy.

I knew a black woman in Harlem who was totally paralyzed, yet she helped more people than our Friendship House did and in greater depth.

I knew Gertsky, a little Polish girl whose heart was greatly enlarged. She was in terrible pain most of the time, and eventually died a very holy death. Father Eddie Doherty wrote about her. Bishops, cardinals, priests, nuns—even politicians—came to talk to her, although she had barely finished grade school.

She would seem to be a failure as the world would reckon it, but she certainly was not. As God sees things, she was just the opposite.

I could go on endlessly, but what I want to say is this: don’t be afraid to fail, for failure is but a stepping-stone to success. Failure is painful; but without pain there is no living in love.

So then, go through the arches of Christ’s pain and enter into the joy of his heart. In the process, there will be many times when you will fail. You will fall flat on your face, even as he did on the way of the cross. Alleluia!

Excerpted from Dearly Beloved, Vol. 3, (1990), pp. 73-75, March 13, 1976, available from Madonna House Publications.


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