The Heroes In Our Lives

Who Are the Heroes in Your Life?

Before you answer let me refine the question. Who are the people who have influenced your lives? They are probably many even if you never thought of them under the title of hero. Just as you may never have thought of them under the title of saints.

Each time I reread Pope Francis spiritual testament “Rejoice and Be Glad” I find something new (yet old) and uplifting in an age in which we desperately need heros. As we prepare to celebrate the twin feasts of All Saints and All Souls I am drawn back to his phrase “the saints’ next door.”

“The Saints Next Door”  and  The “middle class” of holiness.

Of course, we can and should celebrate the giants of our faith, those who have been beatified and canonized. But Pope Francis reminds us very explicitly that we need to celebrate the ordinary heroes in our lives or those he calls “the saints next door.”

7. I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people:

  • in those parents who raise their children with immense love,
  • in those men and women who work hard to support their families,
  • in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.

In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”.[4]

The “big picture” of their lives

He continues “Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church.” But what is this holiness?

“Each in his or her own way” the (Second Vatican) Council says. We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us. The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor  12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them. We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.

To recognize the word that the Lord wishes to speak to us through one of his saints, we do not need to get caught up in details, for there we might also encounter mistakes and failures. Not everything a saint says is completely faithful to the Gospel; not everything he or she does is authentic or perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.[26]

What is your word to those you love … and to those who hurt you

23. This is a powerful summons to all of us. You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.

Pope Francis’ Prayer for Us

Pope Francis prays for us in a manner reminiscent of St. Paul writing to the Ephesians

24. May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life. Let yourself be transformed. Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission. The Lord will bring it to fulfilment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens.
8. Let us be spurred on by the signs of holiness that the Lord shows us through the humblest members of that people which “shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, spreading abroad a living witness to him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity”.[5]

This All Saints Day and All Souls Day let us pray in gratitude for the heroes and saints next door in our lives!

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