hero – noun he·ro \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or abilityb : an illustrious warriorc : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualitiesd : one who shows great courage
I have long wanted to write out something about Heroes. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it and know exactly how to say it, but maybe you can fill in the missing pieces. You see, I’m very convicted that we live in an age of Heroes. Just like all the comic-book hero movies that have been coming out make us desire. I think that all times have seen Heroes, but ours has even more. Except, those who are offered super-human strength and abilities (think, Superman on this one), are…refusing it?
Wait, who doesn’t want to be a Superhero?? Isn’t a kid’s favorite question to everyone he or she meets: “If you could have one super power, what would it be?” Heck, even grown people like to throw that around to get conversation going and find out more about their friends. So, on the one hand, I am certain that people are being offered these super-human abilities, but I am also sure that many of them, possibly even most, are not taking them. Is it possible they just don’t know that’s what’s being offered to them?
Perhaps, like many fairy tales, superhero stories, and mystery thrillers, all is not as it seems. Before these superpowers can be claimed, there is usually a mysterious challenge, or test, to prove the warrior’s calling (Hercules, Mulan, Braveheart, or St. Joan of Arc, for example). Perhaps the challenge will bring out weaknesses, insufficiency, doubts, and even just about break you. People will definitely misunderstand you, maybe even ridicule you, possibly even turn their backs on you completely. But then, at the very last moment, when all seems lost, you complete that life-defining act (or series of acts), and you are transformed into Hero.
The above formula of mysterious calling (often simply by force of circumstance), challenge, failing, and ultimately surprising completion of heroic act(s) (even if not fully recognized in your lifetime) and the succeeding impact on history, is the way we recognize heroes. If this doesn’t describe one for us, what does? If someone follows this series of movements with tenacity, we are struck with their greatness (even if they are not, which is another distinguishing mark of their heroism).
I wonder if it is clear then, why I profess to see Heroes all around us. That is, as I said, those who have begun their path to being true Heroes, but have somehow given up along the way, before completing it. And they could complete it; it is clear they have been marked with the calling, brought out from the normal routine of human life to stand apart in a challenging circumstance only a Hero could overcome. Is it then, they don’t want to be Heroes? But, isn’t that what everyone wants? Perhaps then, it’s just that they don’t realize they are on the Hero course. Perhaps they need to be told.
I remember trying to tell all the women who felt overwhelmed with unwanted pregnancies what they were being called to…most didn’t want to hear it, but those who listened, and met the challenge head on, are absolutely heroines.
Every time I hear of a man or women who has found a way to live a life of virtue and courage with Same Sex Attraction, that person is clearly a Hero.
When two people hold out for so many years struggling to mend an almost failing marriage, refusing to give up, and end up building a stronger relationship, I know those two people are Heroes.
Recently, it was in the news that a Armenian man would not give up his new born son who has Down Syndrome, though his wife threatened to divorce him. There is a Hero.
I’m reading now the autobiography of Malala, the girl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out on women’s rights. This 15-year-old girl from a mountain village is sounding pretty ordinary and heroic to me so far…
There are so many easy ways to escape from the immense challenges that we may be confronted with today. There is this growing openness to anyone doing whatever they decide to do, and there are always people who will congratulate and support them on both sides of the decision. However, I believe that if more of the hundreds of thousands of people facing these decisions made the most difficult decision for the true good (for themselves and others) – likely bringing out all their weaknesses and fears, the ridicule and rejection of others, and almost breaking them – we would suddenly recognize how we are, even today, surrounded by Heroes.
The performance of extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness and over a period of time. The moral virtues are exercised with ease, while faith, hope, and charity are practiced to an eminent degree. The presence of such virtues is required by the Church as the first step toward canonization. The person who has practiced heroic virtue is declared to be Venerable, and is called a “Servant of God.”