The Success of Failure

The Success of Failure

“Life and Death Consists in Loving  You O God

Osanna Andreasi

“Lord you have been our refuge from one generation to another.” Psalm 90

    My friend Larry Purcell wrote an article some 44 years ago with the name The Success of Failure, a name which we are borrowing. Thank you Larry.

    Last Spring we  were picking up  a friend at his private school in Marin, and received a phone call from a gentleman telling us  his church would not  be giving a   Christmas donation  to Temenos because we did not have a “good success rate”.

    We pulled over and started laughing. For I was on Butter field Road where he lives, one of the wealthiest areas in the country, and understood why we must be total failures in his eyes.   And as we looked around we asked ourselves the question “What is failure?” “Are we a failure?”

    Elizabeth Gilbert gives us a definition of our worth: You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your success or failures.

      Our ministry has been commitment to the path of Word and Sacrament, and to the ministry of presence. At times we  have wavered and fallen,   we get up, lift our  head high, bandage our wounds, and remain dedicated to that path. People hurl many hurtful words and judgments at us but–we never give up; we never surrender!

    Last night a statue of Saint Juniper Serra was toppled from its stand and broken  in Golden Gate Park, in other areas statues vandalized. The reason stated is his treatment of Native Americans. Also of note it was reported the vandals were mostly white–no Native Americans.

    On our arm we have a tattoo of Saint  Juan Serra. One of our projects in seminary was to study a missionary, and we chose Saint Junipero Serra. We spent three months researching his life, ministry, and legacy. We read last year a recent biography.

    Saint Junipero Serra was a man of his times, and yet he treated the Native Americans with more kindness, and acceptance than others. He was compassionate in his caring. He was far more advance than others in his culture.

    Dorthy Day is being promoted for sainthood. What is ignored is she lived with a man out of marriage, had a daughter illegitimately, slept around, and had an abortion. She believed what the Church taught about homosexuality yet she was kind and loving to each person she met.

    Her life was one of service setting an example of voluntary poverty and providing for the poorest of the poor.

    Personally we have felt the homophobia of many Catholic Workers through the years, for they carry out the legacy of their Church.

    Our parents, and all of our relatives were segregationists, and would not tolerate homosexuality, yet I have moved out of that realm of living and thinking. Many have  rejected us today. But my parents were the kindest and most loving people I have ever known to everyone. They were formed by their culture.

    We can not judge people by our values and thinking now, because we live in a different time, promoting an evolution of freedom and openness.

   Saint  Junipero Serra and Dorothy Day distinguished themselves by their compassion, caring, and witness in their times. Both were broken human beings, and yet the face of God radiated through their witness. The same way with my parents.

    We have tattoos of both Dorothy and Junipero on our arm, we wear them proudly remembering their witness through their  brokenness.

    “Life and death consists in loving God. .”that love is summed up in the Great Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply