Do you have spiritual heroes? I do. They are people who remain dear to my heart. They are men and women who have showed me the way to change my life for the better, and many of them, through their friendly mentoring helped to grow me up in the faith. I could list many names from years gone by beyond my family circle. They were church folk, school folk, older women friends. Somehow they generously took time to love me and encourage me even when I could not offer anything of value in return. They were magnanimous spiritual mothers and fathers to me. I’m fortunate to still know a few today.
I could also list the names of many favorite saints who have inspired me along the way.
I thank God for all of them, the saints, and the good Christians I met who have shepherded me, especially as a teen and younger woman. Somewhere along the way, I started to want to be like them.
If you read my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, you’ll find that I make the case that Christian women are called to grow and mature in such a way as to be able to make disciples through their holy influence in their spheres of life — to be physical and spiritual mothers. Whether single, married, or religious, women are baptized and called to participate in the universal mission of the Church that ignites faith and light and love in others. That we not only come to know, love, and serve Christ ourselves, but that we bring others along to Heaven with us as well.
Yet we live in a society that often demeans parenthood and degrades or ignores the spiritual dimensions that are so necessary to human flourishing. As I wrote in my latest column at Patheos, we need spiritual heroes…
What the world needs now are spiritual heroes. Be they spiritual fathers or spiritual mothers, we need them. The Catholic Church has long known this and has produced spiritual fathers and mothers by the millions. We call them saints.
Besides all the famous names on the heavenly rolls like the Blessed Mother, St Joseph, the Apostles and Martyrs, and the rest, there are millions more –- unnamed and lesser saints — who started their days just like you and me. They got up in the morning and got to work.
Many of us mere mortals, while piously attempting to honor and revere saints, mistakenly see their heroic virtue as beyond our reach. What I’m saying is that many Catholics and others put saints on pedestals in ways that leave us fretting that such sanctity is unattainable for the regular folks, the Joe and Joan Q. Public sitting in the pew.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Saints in heaven this very moment are looking at us and praying that we dispatch with this silly notion, and dispel this excuse from the responsibility and, yes, the privilege, each baptized person has to grow in holiness. That is, to try to be a saint.
Let me say this as forthrightly as I can: Get a grip, People of God!
The saints began with the same raw materials we do: A sinful life in need of God and his grace. Fortunately grace is not in short supply, for where sin increases, grace abounds all the more. (Cf. Romans 5: 20)
There’s more, of course.
Go read it. There’s a bodacious mission out there waiting for you.