Blessed Charles de Foucauld
I wanted to post this for the memorial of Charles de Foucauld, but never got around to it. Most Catholic blog readers know who Blessed Charles is - a French aristocrat/soldier turned monk who founded an order with no followers - until after his death. So he lived alone in a hermitage and was murdered - he wasn't even martyred. His conversion and return to the Church, his religious life - hidden like that of Jesus of Nazareth, was most edifying however. His humble death, falling like the seed to the ground, left us an example of ordinary holiness - faithfulness. [His biography here.]
I've been thinking of 'success' ever since I read Fr. Longenecker's description of another blogger as a man who is 'the epitome of success'. It bothered me a bit that he described the man in that way. The idea of success reminds me of the Prosperity Gospel preachers. Everything in this country is measured by degrees of success - even bloggers measure one another by these terms. Gratefully, Fr. Longenecker followed up with an excellent post critiquing the American ideal of success - thus I have nothing to post about. Read Father's post instead: Deliver Us from Successful Catholics.
Having said that, we know some people can't handle success anyway. Look at Lindsay Lohan and other celebrities and sports figures. Many people achieve success, and do well by it. The real 'bad' about success is vain rejoicing in it. The saint knows the difference. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta famously stated: “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” Now that is Christian.
Charles de Foucauld and the other loser saints like Matt Talbot, Benedict Joseph Labre, and others whose names I can't recall at the moment, were faithful, not successful - just faithful. So remember, if you found an order of monks and you are the only member, remain faithful. If you blunder through life, yet remain faithful despite everything, you can stand erect - if you remain faithful.
The other day I came across a quote from Jane Frances de Chantal, which reminded me of the parable of the talents - I've always worried about that parable thinking it was about success. St. Jane's admonition calmed my fears: "We know not the hour when we shall hear the trumpet which will call us to give back our soul to him who has given it to us in keeping."
We desperately need to consider, and understand, and keep before our mind's eye the supreme value of our immortal soul - if we ignore its existence, we are like the servant who hid his talent and was therefore unfaithful.