Heroes and saints
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 8, 2016
HEROES need not be saints,
but saints are always heroes in the sense that whatever their vocation
and mission, they always live them with heroicity even if their heroic
lives may not be publicly known in some political, social, historical
or cultural terms.
Saints can even live their
heroicity hidden from the public eye, and often they live it by going
against the current obtaining in a certain society. They can be
unpopular, in fact, as St. Paul once said: “We have become the scum of
the earth, the garbage of the world...” (1 Cor 4,13)
Heroes obviously can be
saints too, as long as they live their vocation and mission in strict
and heroic obedience to God's will and ways. They definitely have done
some acts that we consider as heroic. They serve a certain purpose in
But what we usually consider
heroes are defined more in political, social, historical and cultural
terms, and need not accord with the spiritual and supernatural
criteria of sainthood.
In fact, there are many
heroes now who can hardly qualify as saints, precisely because their
heroism may go against spiritual and supernatural standards. Heroes
work for some worldly values like nationalism, save-and-rescue
operations, efficiency and effectiveness, etc. Saints work only for
the fidelity to God's will.
While heroes are always
involved in some extraordinary events, saints need not get involved in
those kind of events. Most of them become saints simply doing very
ordinary things but doing them extraordinarily well, that is, with
great love of God and of others, with extreme fidelity to their
vocation and mission.
Most saints live their
heroic lives in secret. They don't show off their goodness, imitating
Christ who said: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door
and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in
secret will reward you...And when you fast, do not look dismal, like
the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may
be seen by men...” (Mt 6,6&16)
Saints live their heroic
lives consistently, in season and out of season, when times are
favorable and when they are not. They hardly are influenced by the
opinions of people. They can go against the general trends, if need
be. Theirs is in strict obedience and fidelity to God's will.
The distinction between
heroes and saints is crucial because we need to realize that we have
to aim more at becoming saints than at becoming heroes. If we happen
to end up both saints and heroes, then that's good. It's quite a
privilege. But if given a choice, we have to opt for sainthood rather
than for being a hero.
What is truly important is
that we are with God rather than with our own selves. We have to aim
at heaven rather than some earthly advantage. “What does it profit a
man,” Christ says, “to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.” (Mk
This does not mean that we
have to belittle the value of the world. Not at all. The world and the
things in it, our temporal affairs, are important and even
indispensable in the pursuit of sanctity. But the world and things in
it are simply means. They are never the end.
Thus, the call to holiness
and sanctity is universal. It's meant for everyone, while the call to
be heroes is quite selective. Not everyone can be heroes, but everyone
is expected to be a saint. The occasions to become saints are always
available, while those to become heroes are few and far between.
That is why even with his
apostles, Christ would just choose practically anyone at random,
including the one who would betray him later. And the reason is simply
because all of us come from God and belong to him.
To become a saint is not so
much a matter of the kind of skill, talent, position, etc. that one
has. It's simply a matter of a total self-giving to God and to others,
irrespective of the conditions and circumstances one may be in.
In this regard, we have to
develop the appropriate passion. That's simply because to become a
saint just cannot happen without fully involving all our faculties,
including our passions. Let's remember what Christ told us about the
greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22,37)
To become a saint is to
achieve the fullness of our humanity. Our fullness is not to become a