Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Failure is a Success

When I was a counselor at a girls' camp last summer, I was thrilled that our cabin was named after St. Philippine Duchesne. Although she is little known, the courageous Frenchwoman longed to become a missionary in the New World. When her dream finally was realized, she was an older woman. She never learned to speak any native languages in the Pottawatomie region of Kansas and Missouri where she built schools for Indian girls. In the eyes of many, this simple old woman was a failure.

She united her crosses with Our Lord's suffering as she once heard in the depths of her soul, “You are destined to please Me, not so much by success as by bearing failure.”

This is a lesson we would all do well to remember. Humble St. Philippine was known to her pupils as the "woman who prays always." The children put rocks on her habit as she was praying, and when they'd return hours later, the rocks were still there. The saint had not budged! What a prayerful woman. Even in our failures we may be a success in God's eyes. And sometimes it takes failure to keep us humble and to prompt us to call on God for help. 

As Lily and I heard on retreat once, "sometimes God gets more glory out of the battle than out of the victory."

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