Success . . . or Failure?

As far as I can tell, all our monastery web sites have been successfully moved to U.K. hosts. There are some broken links and so on that I shall be tidying up over the next few weeks, as time and energy allow, before I attempt to upload the re-designed sites; and I am not wholly convinced that all our email accounts are yet functioning as they should. On the whole, however, we are patting ourselves and our colleagues on the back and congratulating ourselves on a successful move. But what weasel words ‘success’ and ‘successful’ are! They are seductive, with their hint of standing out from the crowd, of accomplishment and triumph. To fail or, even worse, to be a failure, is something we all shrink from, especially as many of us have a secret fear that we are not all we pretend to be but are indeed, in some sense, failures. We devise many ways of hiding failure from ourselves and do great violence to the English language and to our own integrity in our attempts to mask the truth; but it doesn’t really wash. We succeed or we fail. End of story.

Only not quite. One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that we succeed through failure. The death of Christ on the Cross was the most abject failure in history; it was also the supreme triumph, for it led to the Resurrection and the redemption of us all. It can be hard to see the same pattern working itself out in our lives; but it is there. As we go on, we often see that the very things we regarded as disasters have actually turned out for our good. As human beings, we like the illusion of control; but it is only an illusion. We must do our best and leave the outcome to God. That is not quietism under another name: it is submission to the will of God, the embracing of our vocation and our path to holiness.