Heroism and the Average Christian

Heroism, we are assured by Cardinal Kasper, is not for the average Christian. It is not for me to question a cardinal; but as a deplorably average Christian myself, I do wonder whether he may have forgotten something rather important: grace. It is grace, and grace alone, that allows any of us to transcend our weaknesses; that makes simpletons like me able and willing to make sacrifices, choose the more difficult path and generally strive for what is better. We average Christians are not superhuman; we don’t go in for heroics; but we know grace is ours for the asking and try to let it perform its work in us. It strikes me that the beginnings of holiness are to be found here, in co-operation with grace; and isn’t holiness what all Christians, average or not, are about?


9 thoughts on “Heroism and the Average Christian”

  1. It’s in my nature to be bold, I can’t be something I’am not, I love Moses, King David, Paul, and many more, I have a great love for John the Baptist, he went to battle corruption and violence, to turn the people to the Massiah, lived his life in a cave, baptising by day, preaching , meditating , praying, he was a hero, not in a forceful way but in a loving way. Mother Angelica is also my hero, she got out there and did something. The mountain want come to you, you have to go to the mountain. God Bless.

  2. What about St. Theresa and her “Little Way”? And Mother Theresa who said that we are called to do small things with great love? Often our saints are the ordinary people.

  3. In his wonderful sermon “You Are Accepted”, theologian Paul Tillich used the text Romans 5:20. This is how he describes grace:
    “In grace something is overcome; grace occurs “in spite of” something; grace occurs in spite of separation and estrangement. Grace is the reunion of life with life, the reconciliation of the self with itself. Grace is the acceptance of that which is rejected. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful destiny; it changes guilt into confidence and courage.”

    What a great word.

  4. Sister, thank you. This is a wonderful post, with a lot to think about. Very helpful for us average Christians, who struggle and need to fall back on grace many times a day.

  5. Grace, much like Christ’s gift of Himself in Holy Communion, has never been a prize for the perfect but a tonic to strengthen our daily struggle in remaining faithful to His teachings. In getting on with day to day life I expect to be challenged, to fall often and be helped back up through grace. There’s no call for heroism on my part, only faith, trust, repentance. It’s not for me, either, as a pew Catholic, to question Cardinal Kasper, but I keep in mind he is a cardinal, not the Messiah.

  6. Thanks. Even for the very fortunate there are some days when just getting through the day takes heroism. I think that may be true on occasion for most of us.
    Lots to think about after reading your post.

  7. I wonder if the Cardinal is mistaking heroics and the sort of things, that ordinary people do in an instant to save lives of others, sometimes sacrificing their own in the process. Which is perhaps an courage, which we all possess through grace, but hesitate to use from a sense of self preservation for the sort of glorification of war hero’s, who are held up to the rest of us as courage personified.

    I actually believe that those who strive (or even struggle) to live in accordance with Christ’s teaching in the face of poverty, violence and persecution have courage through God’s grace, in perseverance. Carrying on professing your faith, against all of the odds and giving your life to God perhaps due to it, takes courage and determination of a sort that many of us might struggle to find within ourselves.

    None of us are hero’s through choice, but we are followers of ‘the way’ that Jesus gave us and it seems to me that sometimes that takes courage to live out in the face of an increasingly, secular world and individualism and selfishness., where we can be castigated as out of touch, believers in fairy tales and worse. Someone facing that sort of verbal violence needs courage, through grace to face it down.

    • A very valid point, Ernie, and thank you for making it so powerfully, but the cardinal was actually referring to heroism in the context of marriage and divorce and his remarks raised a few eyebrows.

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