Taking the measure of it

During the keynote address at a recent conference, Brother Loughlan Sofield, S.T. spoke of the Spirituality of Failure, an interesting and provocative notion by which he propounded that it is from our failures that we derive a deeper spirituality rather than from our successes. As an internationally recognized and highly respected psychologist and author, Brother Sofield speaks with almost certain authority. Without a more complete explanation I cannot and will not question what was said, but would humbly suggest that a recasting of the slogan might be duly warranted.

God's Healing Hand

God’s Healing Hand

Delineating spirituality into dichotomies of winning or losing, success or failure evokes a sense of contest and conquest where whether one wins or loses, succeeds or fails by individual effort or merit consequentially impacts the depth of one’s spirituality. It further makes manifest by implication an erroneous causality, that spirituality will be increased by failure and decreased by success. It creates the false narrative that to be truly spiritual one must be a failure and that the greater one’s successes the less spiritual one will become. While I have no doubt that this is not what was intended by the slogan, it would not be unreasonable to come to just such a conclusion.

Failures are, by definition, unrecoverable. You can do nothing to change a failure into a success for if you could it would not then be a failure. Similarly, a loss cannot be transformed into a win by any amount of wishful thinking. When you fail, you fail. When you lose, you lose.

While the depth of our spirituality is not reliant on whether we succeed or fail, win or lose, it does depend on the degree of our brokenness, and the degree to which we are broken is measured by the mortality of sin and the sanctity of the soul. Thus there is both an inverse and a causal relationship between sin and spirituality. The more we sin and the graver the sin the weaker our spirituality will become. The further we distance ourselves from the occasions of sin, the greater our sanctity and that will result in increasing our spirituality.

Any amount of brokenness can be healed. God is always willing and eager to forgive those who are truly repentant. God will always heal all brokenness if you but ask, for he tells us “Behold, I make all things new.”[1] Asking God to heal your brokenness and to forgive you of your sins increases your spirituality by building a new and more intimate relationship with Him. When you desire a greater relationship with God, you by necessity move into closer communion with Him and that will elevate your spirituality to a new level.

God will neither measure us for our successes or failures nor will he judge us by any calculus of wins and losses we might sustain. We will however be judged by our brokenness. We are all broken, imperfect creatures who by our very nature are inclined to sin and to sin all too frequently. No one, save one, who has ever lived on this earth, has ever lived a sinless life. Somehow it seems that the Spirituality of Brokenness would be all the more fitting.


[1] Rev 21:5.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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