Sunday 29 April 2018

Father Ignatius faces Failure

Father Ignatius was sitting at his desk reading his morning mail when there was a knock at the door.

“Do come in,” he said in his jovial welcoming voice.

The door opened and a young man came in.

“Hello Timothy … I haven’t seen you for a while. Are you well?” asked the priest.

Timothy sat on the armchair by the window. He held his head in his hands and looked down without talking. The priest noticed that he was shaking a little … could he be crying?

“What’s wrong Timothy?” said Father Ignatius as he stood from his desk.

The young man looked up; his eyes were bright red from holding back the tears and trying to compose himself as best he could. Father Ignatius said nothing for a while and waited for Timothy to speak when ready.

“I’ve failed my driving test …” he finally blurted out, “my father will kill me … he paid a fortune for driving lessons!”

“I’ve known your father for a long time,” replied the priest calmly, “and I know for a fact he is not a killer!”

Timothy looked up and smiled a little.

“I take it you haven’t told him yet.”

“No … I ran straight here from the Test Center. I don’t know why … you can hardly do anything about it can you?”

Father Ignatius smiled at the apparent lack of confidence the youngster had in him. He turned to the cupboard behind his desk and came back holding a small camera.

“Do you mind if I take a photo of you?” he asked Timothy.

Timothy looked surprised and before he could say anything he heard the clicking sound from the camera.

“What … what did you do this for?” asked the confused youngster.

Father Ignatius put the camera on his desk and sat in a chair opposite Timothy.

“I just wanted to record this very moment in time ... for posterity do you understand ..." then after a moment's silence he continued, "Let me tell you something …

“Failure is sometimes necessary if we happen to learn from it.

“It is only a picture in time when you happen to click your camera and record it for posterity. Just as I’ve done right now … recorded your moment of failure.

“But if we were to move our camera pictures forward and see other pictures, the chances are that the individual we’ve photographed has learnt from his failure and gone on to greater success.

“When Christ hung dying on the Cross His followers saw failure.

“Here is a man whom many followed and listened to. As many as five thousand at one stage when He fed them loaves and fishes. They witnessed His many miracles and expected great things from Him. A new Ruler, a new King, someone to bring them freedom from their Roman oppressors. Yet here He is, beaten, tortured, humiliated and dying on a Cross amongst thieves.

“Failure indeed.

“Yet, a few more photos further on and we see the Resurrection, the Ascension into Heaven, the sending of the Holy Spirit, a new church born and growing from strength to strength several centuries later. We are redeemed from our sins.

“Everlasting success.”

The priest paused briefly.

“So it really depends on which picture we focus on. The one I’ve just taken of you, or the one in a few months’ time when you’re driving your car all by yourself?”

Timothy smiled.

“I’m sure your father will understand when you tell him your test result. He too was a learner driver once and he wants the best for you.”

“I’m sorry … I just panicked … I’d better get home now,” said Timothy.

“Remember Timothy” added the priest, “Failure is only what is recorded at a particular moment in time … and no more than that.

“Bear this in mind the next time a camera clicks to record your personal failures; and take courage in the knowledge that, with God’s help, you can turn your negative moments into positives for others to emulate.”

Timothy got up to leave.

“And don’t worry … there’s no film in this camera!!!” smiled Father Ignatius.


  1. Such a wonderful sermon ... who among us hasn't felt like Timothy at one time or another!

    1. Yes indeed, Mevely. We have all faced failure and thought it was the end.

      Thank you for your visit here. Much appreciated.

      God bless.

  2. Thankfully God does not define us by our never-ending failures but by our faith in Jesus Christ.

    There's a picture to hold close to the heart forever. Weekend blessings to you, Victor ...

    1. You are so right, Linda.

      God bless you and yours always.

  3. Failure makes us stronger and teaches us a lesson. No film in the camera cracked me up. :)
    Thank you Victor!

    1. Hi Bill,

      Fr Ignatius uses an old style camera. Do you remember having to send your film to the chemist to be developed and waiting a week or so to get your photos?

      All Fr Ignatius stories (books) are set in the 1950s or early 60s in an unnamed town in northern England. That's why there is no mention of modern technology like the internet, smart phones, tablets and the like.

      I set the stories in that period to add a bit of nostalgia and to say that what happens in the stories could have happened any time and anywhere.

      I find nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Today's nostalgia is talking about last year's technology.

      God bless you always, my friend. I bet your camera has no film in it either.

  4. A wonderful story to help us all, for we all have failed at one time or another.
    Nice to know that God is always there to help us. : )

    1. Yes indeed, Happyone. God is always but a prayer away.

      God bless you always.

  5. Great story, Victor!



God bless you.