Holy Failure

In the past year, the Lord has called me to many different things. He called me to be a youth minister, to apply to enter a religious order, to apply for a grant that would pay off my loans so I could enter, to leave my job as a youth minister, to look for a new job, to move out of my parents house, and many other little things. Some of the above list I actually followed through with and accomplished, others I haven’t been able to complete. All of them, though, I discerned to be the Lord’s will. However, some of them just haven’t worked out. When I sit and reflect on the things I haven’t accomplished, it is easy to feel like a failure. It is easy to be overwhelmed with where I’ve fallen short and think I am a failure in the Lord’s eyes.

Last week, I attended a daily Mass at a parish I’ve never been to before. It was the feast of St. Ignatius. Instead of talking about St. Ignatius or the readings for the day, the priest gave his homily on a group of Jesuit martyrs. One in particular in the group stood out to me, St. Noel Chabanel. He was in a group of Jesuits who were assigned to serve the Hurons in Canada. He spent his whole time serving them, not being able to communicate because he wasn’t able to learn their language. He struggled to serve because he was disgusted by their way of life. He worked his whole life to covert the Hurons only to convert a few, and one of those few actually were the cause for his death. In the eyes of the average person looking at St. Noel’s life, he was a failure. But, he’s a saint, so he couldn’t be too much of a failure. He committed himself to following the will of the Lord, regardless of his personal feelings or his weaknesses. And he died serving the Lord.

I really connected with his story. The fact that he failed at all the things he was called to do but he still became a saint. The reality is, choosing to follow the Lord’s will is a victory, whether we accomplish what we think we’re supposed to or not. We don’t always understand what the Lord is going to do with us, and we aren’t asked to understand. All we’re asked to do is trust and follow Him. The thing about failure is that it gives us an opportunity to re-commit. The Lord doesn’t ask us not to fail, He just asks that when we do, we get back up and continue to follow Him to the best of our ability. If I have to be a failure, I pray I’ll be a holy one.

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