what it takes to be one

Heroes and saints almost always share two traits in common: neither sets out in life to become one and when recognized as such they react with great humility and self-deprecation. Whenever the spotlight shines upon them, their reaction is one of embarrassment and self-effacing modesty for they never see themselves as especially heroic or saintly, rather they are quick to recognize the great deeds of others, never themselves.



Those who would proclaim to be a hero or a saint are neither for they have no understanding of what it takes for someone to become a hero or a saint. They are mere crass opportunists, hypocrites, and poseurs who think far too highly of themselves and nothing of others.

There is a stark and palpable difference between those who are and those who are not, yet far too often we are presented with examples of the latter as the embodiment and exemplification of the former. Worse is the misuse and abuse inflicted upon a complacent public by those who wish to disabuse the willing of what it truly takes to be a hero or a saint.  Case in point is the fawning adulations and public proclamations surrounding the “heroic” actions taken by a former male athlete to become a female poseur; an indescribable and despicable caricature of what it means to be a woman has now been officially proclaimed and acknowledged as a “hero”.  Pardon me for a moment while I…

As we do each year on November 11th, we do honor to our veterans, those men and women who now serve and have served our country with honor and distinction, often under grave peril and with great sacrifice. Those who served before gave their very best to preserve and protect the freedoms we so enjoy and those who now serve continue to keep us safe and far from harm’s way. We certainly owe each and every one who now serves and those who have served a debt which we shall never repay.

Among their ranks we find many examples of true heroism, both among the living and those who rest below a simple stone set row upon row beneath hallowed ground. Few of those, both living and dead, are well remembered, yet that is how they most often wish it to be. They did their duty, they responded to their country’s call, placed their lives on hold and on the line, and whether they came home standing tall or carried with great reverence by a slow and silent guard, they ask not to be recognized for any heroic deeds they may have done or bravery attested, but simply to be appreciated for their service and welcomed home to loving arms.

In an address, at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, the president recognized one who truly deserved to be called “hero”, Army Lt. Col. Luta C. McGrath, who will be 108 on November 21st, the oldest living female World War II veteran. During the Berlin blockade in 1948, she managed the storage, handling, and airlift of ammunition into West Berlin to disrupt the Soviet blockade.

On Thursday, Capt. Florent Groberg received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor. A French immigrant who became an American citizen, he served two tours in Afghanistan. He earned the medal when he ran toward a suicide bomber, shoving him to the ground and sustaining serious injuries to himself while in the process saving countless lives. Yet he gave credit to his fellow soldiers, not himself. With tears running down his face he looked uncomfortable and embarrassed by the ceremony and the attention given to him. He had asked not to receive the highest award but a lesser one, one that would come with less public recognition.

To find a hero, or a saint, you need look no further than Lt. Col. Luta C. McGrath or Captain Florent Groberg to know what it takes to be one.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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