WHAT IS SUCCESS ? The London Mail recently published a series of letters from correspondents on the above theme. The concluding one was from the pen of the Rev. Father Bernard .Vaughan, who .wrote : “Success, like enlightenment, civilisation, .progress, is a word not easy of definition. Different people take diametrically opposite views of the matter. What to the natural mail, the votary of pleasure, the materialist is called success is, on the contrary, given a very bad name indeed by the spiritual man, the self-deny-ing one, the philanthropist. And so vice versa.
First of all, let me say that by success I do not mean making a fortune, gaining a position, or winning honours, for all these things may be reached possibly by means which are unworthy, not to say dishonourable ; just, indeed, as they may be used for ends which are contemptible, if not disreputable. Vor do I call any man a success because he happens to have invented a new process of dyeing or bleaching, or has made any other discovery calculated to improve the pace of merely material progress. “However, speaking- of success in its broader signification, namely as a goal open to all competitors, and not confined to any privileged set of beings I should call that man a success who is bravely trying to realise himself, making the best of his talents and of his opportunities for God and his fellows ; who is' striving in other words to build up a character that shall be not altogether unworthy of the ideal of manliness that he has set before himself.
“To my thinking it is character that really matters. It is character that spells success. ‘•‘You asik by what processes is a man’s character formed. I answer by reminding you that acts beget habits, while habits beget conduct. It is conduct which in the last instance produces character. Character may differ from character as star from star, but every real character is a star in the social firmament. There are three stages in the evolution of character —know thyself, fight thyself, conquer thyself. Get the ropes cut, I say, and be free ; live in the open, so to speak, refusing to be the slave of anyone or anything. Make up your mind, I a'dd, to this : that you must leave the world better for having been in it. “The pagan philosopher started with the principle, “Know thyself” ; the Christian philosopher, on the other hand, needs an axiom introductory to that. The Christian, recognising himself as a sinful man, realises that to start with self-know-ledge might be so disheartening as to be fatal to effort. Accordingly, before turning the eyes of his soul upon himself, he lifts them to heaven, pleading with St. Augustine, "Lord, that I may know Thee, and know' myself.” To know God is to know His mercy, and a man conscious of God’s mercy has courage to push through a storm and stress, all the way reaching out his hands to suffering humanity needing help to fight
its way on and up to the golden gates which seem so far away. That brave man during life may have been often tempted to believe what he had so often heard ; that he was a conspicuous failure but now, at the end of his journey, he became conscious that his mission had been a success. When his Master died in agony on the Cross—what the world screams out to be a “Failure” —He Himself knew to be His Triumph, Success, then, may bo reached through what, by those whose vision is limited to this shifting scene, may be regarded as failure. ISTo man is sent into this woifid to be a lasting failure ; every man who is doing his best according to the light that is in i him, and the opportunities offered him, is a success.”
Permanent link to this item
Essayist., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 7, 18 May 1907
Essayist. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 7, 18 May 1907
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.