Blog Post

Dare Great Things

Was Roosevelt Right About the Man in the Arena?

In my ministry as a Catholic priest, I regularly meet amazing people doing amazing things and seek to learn what allows them to do so. As I share the Gospel across the country, I sheepishly carry a card with me containing a secular quote that I find inspirational. You could even say that it is more than inspirational to me, as it strangely gives me comfort—like words from an elder brother who understands and offers wisdom. And, surprisingly enough, I have found the same quote in the offices and on the desks of many of the amazing people I’ve met!  

Indeed, it seems a multitude of people have used this quote as they aspired to “dare mightily” in their various domains. It comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on April 23, 1910 before a crowd of 2,000 in Paris; within five days, over 5,000 printed copies of the speech had been sold. Achievers as diverse as Richard Nixon and Mark De Rosa have spoken of its power in their lives, and Nelson Mandela had recourse to it to motivate his underdog South African rugby team to victory in the 1995 World Cup.

What does a secular quote have to do with the Faith? Everything. Christ did not call his disciples to mediocrity, but to friendship with the Son of God. And, the love of Christ in our hearts does not allow us to be content with the status quo—it is a fire that impelled St. Paul and the 12 to go to the ends of earth in search of souls. To love is to dare. To love Christ is to dare mightily. Anything else is short-selling authentic Christianity.

I share the quote with you now. Dare great things for Christ!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt