Most people are familiar with the phrase made famous by Yoda in the Star Wars trilogy: “Do or not do; there is no try.” Since then try seems like a rather weak word and is often used in conjunction with a lack of confidence. But I propose that it should be a synonym for practice.
During my daily physical therapy exercises for my back, I need to engage my core muscles as I’m doing each activity. When I do an exercise, I have to remember to engage those muscles. Some days it’s easier than others depending on how tired I am, my mood, how many distractions there are, etc. Each time I try; I have the intention of keeping the core muscles engaged, but in actuality I may not be doing it right. Some may say I’m practicing engaging those muscles. But according to Yoda’s definition, every time I do not succeed, I fail.
Failure is part of life. It gives us the measuring stick to see how we are progressing. This is equally true in the spiritual realm. Every time we go to confession, it may seem like we are not making progress as we generally confess the same sins. But part of that sacrament involves expressing the intention to avoid those sins in the future. We need to try. We need to practice holiness. While we may end up confessing that sin again, perhaps we were able to avoid it for a longer period of time. Or perhaps we start to see the stumbling block that causes us to fall so that we can begin to learn to avoid it.
God gives us an entire lifetime to try, to practice being holy. It’s up to us to determine how much energy we are going to devote. Sometimes our attempts will end in success and we celebrate them. Sometimes they end as failures and we learn from them. The important thing is to keep trying. The only time we should stop is when we reach heaven.