By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
We all have our heroes—Sponge Bob, John Boehner, whoever—but I notice they tend to change over time, as we and our values mature.
Many years ago, we good Catholic kids were encouraged to admire and even imitate the saints, our patrons from Baptism and Confirmation, the great missionaries, and so on. The only reference work I knew of (beyond the Golden Books series) was Butler’s “Lives of the Saints.” But, who wants to be shot through with arrows like St. Sebastian, roasted on a gridiron [not the football variety] like St. Lawrence, or endure a seeping wound in the center of my forehead like St. Rita Cascia?
Saints generally left me uninspired. But somewhere in my life’s journey I began to try to see Jesus and all his followers as REAL. I was helped, I’m sure, by works like Romano Guardini’s “The Lord” and “Jesus Christus,” which seemed to take Jesus and company as genuinely human.
“A Woman Wrapped in Silence,” by John W. Lynch presented Mary in amazingly human fashion. I just re-read that recently and was even more amazed at Lynch’s empathy with Mary’s befuddlement and near terror.
Currently—and for the last couple of years off and on—I’ve been relishing Robert Ellsberg’s “All Saints,” a bit of an eyebrow-raising collection of vignettes about real people, most dead but some not, who challenge my notions of sanctity and virtue.
I appreciate the rich cloud of witnesses who, I believe and experience, are accompanying us all day, every day, until we join them!