“Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
When people want to be great baseball players or basketball players or hockey players or any other sports personages, those people typically study the greats of the sport. They memorize stats, unusual moves, and remarkable feats. They do their best to emulate the greats in the sport to which they aspire. The same applies to greats in architecture, the sciences, mathematics, and any other field or profession.
We often study the best of the best when we hope to enter a certain field or profession. As a priest who has worked with vocation directors in our diocese in the past, I used to meet aspiring seminarians to administer to them the Priest Perceiver. I did the same for those who wished to enter the diaconate. They met with me to do the Deacon Perceiver.
Those tools were developed by the Gallup organization — yes, the same people as the Gallup poll. The perceivers were created after people from Gallup met with the “best of the best” to determine what qualities or characteristics the most “successful” priests or deacons possessed. After taking the perceiver, one could say that a person had a capacity to become a successful priest or deacon or any other number of professions that had perceivers attached.
The point being made is that we often look to the best when we hope to become something or someone. That is second nature to us. Therefore, it might behoove us to apply that same keen study to our own faith. If we aspire to be stellar Catholics, wouldn’t it benefit us to look at the most “successful” Catholics of the past: the great saints? If we want to be courageous, wouldn’t it benefit us to see how the martyrs of old faced trial and persecution and even death? Knowing those people more intimately, we might find ways to better live the faith as well.
Disraeli reminds us that “To believe in the heroic makes heroes.” Truer words could not be spoken. The great saints and martyrs are ultimate heroes of the faith and studying them as we aspire to be like them can give us the wherewithal to live heroic lives as well.
FAITH ACTION: Consider reading the life of one of the heroic saints and/or martyrs and ask God for the grace and courage that you need to live just as heroically in this world.