I make it a daily practice to ask the Lord to bless the people I love, people I like, people I have no strong feelings for one way or another, and people I have strong negative feelings toward. I will imagine as much detail as I can about each person, hold that image in my heart, and pray, “Peace, Lord, give this person peace.”
The biggest challenge for me in this practice is to think of people I’m indifferent toward. When I think of people I love, I always think of my wife. When I think of people I like, I think of my family and friends. And it’s all too easy for me to think of people I don’t like.
Yet, as I reflect on some of the people toward whom I have no strong feelings, I realize that they have, in fact, had a profound impact on my faith and on my vocation as a catechist. They are, in a way, the hidden heroes in my formation. Here are a few:
- The grandmother who lives across the street. She is twice as busy as I am, and I’m half her age. By the time I go for my morning walk before work, she’s already gone to church for morning Mass. In the early evening, she’s visiting with her kids, grandkids, or great grandkids, offering wisdom and counsel. She reminds me that as I continue to grow in my vocation, I will need both of these gifts in abundance.
- The couple walking their dog. When my wife and I take our two Siberian Huskies for a walk (or more accurately, when they drag us), our paths usually cross with another couple, and we wave to each other. I don’t know where that couple lives, I don’t know their names, and I don’t know their dog’s name. Yet, in our relative anonymity, we share a love and concern for our pets. They remind me that the root of my vocation is love and concern for the young people I serve.
- The barista at the local coffee shop. My wife and I like to go for drives on Sunday afternoons, and part of that excursion includes a stop at our local coffee shop. The barista always greets us with a smile and positive attitude. My wife and I respond in kind. He reminds me that my vocation is both a call and a response to joy. With great joy I serve the young people preparing for Confirmation, and they, in turn, are a source of my joy.
- Old college friends. I have very few lifelong friends. My friendships are often simply the result of time and circumstance; our friendships evolved out of shared environments (school, work, etc.). Over time, I have lost contact with my best friends from my college days. They are, for the most part, out of sight and out of mind. Yet, every now and then, we will reach out to one another and share wonderful memories. These conversations remind me that my vocation is, in a way, transmitting a shared memory—the memory of our Catholic faith.
These hidden heroes remind me that God is teaching me even in times when I am not paying attention. They show me that God is always being revealed to me.
Who are your hidden heroes of faith and your vocation?
Help children learn to recognize hidden heroes from early ages with 10 Hidden Heroes and the book’s accompanying activities.
Image from Pixabay.