by Rev. Robert J. Hermley
Stories for Life Index
I have always promised myself that one day when I had time. I would sit down and write a book, or at least a series of essays, about my own heroes. Included would be men and women who dared to do the right thing even when everyone else had taken the easy way or had given in to the problem.
Cardinal Mindszenty, the late Hungarian Primate, would perhaps be first on my hero list. He suffered half his life under the Nazis, and the other half under the Communists. He had faith of steel, however, and neither the Communists nor the Nazis could destroy his saintly courage.
St. Thomas More would also occupy a special place on my list. He was Chancellor of England under Henry VIII, and when Henry defied the Catholic church on its decision of the validity of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, St. Thomas More chose the path of prison and martyrdom rather than set himself against the decision of the Catholic Church. It would have been so easy for St. Thomas to sign the Oath of Supremacy as the King demanded; bishops and priests signed the document, which declared that the King alone was the Supreme Head of the Church of England. It was an English church versus a Roman Church, and many clergy wanted to be popular rather than true to the Magisterium. There was one bishop who had the courage to refuse to sign the Oath. His name was John Fisher, and and Henry had him executed in 1535. However, it was the layman, Thomas More, who stood at the forefront of the opposition to the signing of the Oath of Supremacy, and of course, he paid the price of fidelity to the Church with his life.
I would also include on my hero list Pope Pius X, who fought so hard against the heresy of modernism, which, among other things, attacked the Bible as a series of fables. He exposed these errors in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, but he warned that the heresy of modernism would rear its ugly head again. He proved to be prophetic. It was also Pius X who encouraged frequent Holy Communion and the reception of the Eucharist for children as soon as they came to the age of reason and knew that Our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist.
Cardinals and bishops who constantly teach and encourage the faithful to practice authentic Catholic doctrine handed down by the Magisterium of the Church under the guidance of the Holy See would merit my praise. I would honor most highly bishops who check the doctrines which are proposed in CCD classes and in the RCIA programs, and delete those tinged with a lack of fidelity to the Deposit of Faith.
St. John Neumann of Philadelphia, who encouraged Forty Hours' Devotion in his diocese, could be on my list of heroes. Many people thought that this diminutive foreigner was not refined enough for the big city, but John Neumann's name is in the canon of saints now, and who today can even city the names of his critics?
Mother Catherine Drexel, also from Philadelphia, would be worthy of note. She was a wealthy woman who gave up her fortune to become a nun, and aided those of color and American Indians.
Mary Magdalen would be considered, too. She was a sinner turned saint who stayed at the foot of the Cross when all the disciples except John ran away. Augustine, another converted sinner, would also appear on my list. Once he changed his way of life, he spent all his energy in atoning for his shortcomings. Magdalen and Augustine would probably never make sainthood today, because the media would constantly remind us of their past transgressions! Aren't we fortunate that God is our judge, and not the media?
Priests who teach authentic truth, and who are ostracized and ridiculed by their superiors and fellow clergymen as out of place, would merit a special chapter.
In my book of special heroes and saints, however, there would be a most honored place for ordinary mms and dads who do such an extraordinary job of being good Catholics, and who teach their children to follow suit. I'll speak of the father who carries his young children with tender loving care, and I'll write of how lucky these little ones are to have such a caring dad. Yes, there will certainly be mom and dad heroes in my book of saints. St. Frances de Sales tells us that sanctity consists in doing to the best of your ability the ordinary jobs of every day in an extraordinary fashion, and that's what so many married men and women are doing.
There will also be many young people in my book of heroes. They would most certainly include young people who say no to drugs, drink, and sex outside of marriage. I'll bet that there are more of these than anyone imagines. I feel sure that many such can be found among the home-schooled, because this type of family always has the most living, most caring and most giving teachers in the whole world.
Keep up the good work, moms and dads. God's blessing is with you. God sees your good work. Your headaches, tired feet, worn hands, and sometimes wounded heart, are your stigmata which show you are like the Master. One day when you have to face Him and He asks you, "What did you do for Me?" you can point to earth where your children will be living good Catholic lives because of your training, and you can say to Christ, "There is my monument; I built it up in my daily training. I did it all to the best of my ability, and I did it for you." You know, of course, what He will say to you: "Well done, good and faithful servant."