Do you seek good examples for yourself, your children or your grandchildren to emulate because you hope they will demonstrate in word and deed what it means to be authentically Catholic? Are you so often let down by those held up as models when they fail to live up to the faith in word and deed?
Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places for heroes. Maybe for too long we have placed the wrong people on pedestals. It is entirely possible that we need look no further than our own parishes, workplaces and communities for good examples, or as we may call them, “regular Catholic heroes.”
They are all around us, but we may fail to notice them, since it is easy to overlook the faithful, virtuous, humble and selfless persons among us. We are not drawn to them because they go about serving Christ and his Church often in quiet ways, avoiding the spotlight whenever possible. They care more about doing good than getting the credit. When they are not working, they are likely to be spending quality time with their families, serving others in the community or on their knees in prayer. They provide a powerful witness in the simplest of actions.
In the past week, I encountered three people whom I had the good fortune to see, maybe for the first time, as regular Catholic heroes. I have known them for years, but I was struck recently by how each of them was such good role model. Tom, a senior sales leader devoted to the Church and his family, selflessly gives his time to a local homeless shelter and organizes our parish community to support it. He is a prayer warrior who loves the Rosary and can always be counted on when you need help.
Paige, a senior executive with an Atlanta-based company, is a devoted Catholic wife and mother who finds time to carry out her business duties, run a jobs ministry at her parish, teach parish school religion and selflessly help anyone she meets to find everything from stronger faith to a new job.
Finally, there is Judy, a lady in my parish who is heavily involved in pro-life ministry and is one of the most faithful Catholics I have ever met. She is always smiling, talking about her children and grandchildren and setting an example for all of us in her devotion to the sacraments. Ironically, all of them would be very uncomfortable being described as heroes.
What traits do they have in common?
Regular Catholic Heroes like these three individuals and others are often humble, selfless, loving, reliable, prayerful and authentically Catholic.
How can we recognize these Regular Catholic Heroes?
They clearly show the light of Christ to those around them. They are joyful and make being Catholic look inviting and attractive. They follow the Magisterium, are devoted to the sacraments and have vibrant prayer lives. They live authentic Catholic lives which don’t change to suit their companions or in the face of challenges. When dealing with others, it is always about us and not about them. It is their privilege to do any task necessary to help a ministry or in the service of another person. They possess a quiet and powerful form of courage in the face of adversity which emanates from their complete trust in Jesus Christ.
What really struck me as I wrote this post and reflected on the heroes I am now seeing with new eyes, is how they are pursuing lives of holiness and working to attain heaven. They are likely closer than the rest of us. In fact, these humble and selfless Catholic heroes all around us may just be the saints of tomorrow. We should seek them out, share our sincere gratitude and pray that we will follow their great example.
Do we have what it takes to become Regular Catholic Heroes to the people we encounter?
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications in November 2011. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards. Randy’s second book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was recently named Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013.