Over the last ten years, there has been a huge rise in superhero movies in our culture and on thinking of this one time I asked children in school why they liked them so much. They said they like them because they had great power, were good people, protected people, and fought evil! After they talked about what they liked about superheroes, I asked them to share some of their favorite ones. Each one had a unique super power, but all had the same good qualities. In our lives, heroes come in many different ways and styles. Who are your heroes in life?
There was a woman that I heard speak one time talking about her family’s heroes. She was originally from New York, but now lives in Durham, England. When she and her family got there, she said that her sons had heroes in America that were mostly made up of these great sport athletes, but soon they began to find new heroes in their lives. These new heroes helped them come to embrace the faith all because of their move to England. They embraced the faith because they lived in a town where Catholics were martyred. The witness of the martyrs excited her sons so much, that they started to became real to her sons.
It became real to these boys because their school was built on where some of those Catholics were martyred. Living there, they were able to find out more about those martyrs’ lives. Not only did they want to know about these heroes, they wanted to live these heroic noble, godly, catholic lives. They wanted to live them in such a way that the teaching of the catechism or learning the rules of the faith or the history of the faith had never impacted them before. They started to see super heroes in these saints. For example, this woman talked about how significant it was learning about Saint Margaret Clitherow. St. Margaret was a Catholic woman who used to hide priests in her family’s home. We might not know what the Catholic Church had to deal with in 16th century England, but it was forbidden for a Catholic to exist in England during that time because it was a threat to the queen. They had to celebrate mass privately in hiding. They would also build holes in their houses to hide priests if the authorities came looking for them. St. Margaret was one of the people that built those holes. She was eventually arrested when they found out what she was doing and she died defending the faith.
This is just one example of many great stories of some unknown saints we are called to discover more about as we celebrate All Saints Day today. This day reminds us in a special way that ‘greatest,’ in terms of God, has nothing to do with talent. Greatest in the kingdom of God has to do with listening to Jesus and doing what he tells us. So, let us never stop learning about these heroic saintly men and women. Let them inspire us in our age. Let our hearts burn with fire and be willing to be those great heroes of our Church.