The Difference Between a Hero and an Idol

hero with cape - image from Pixabay

When I was growing up, most of my “heroes” were sports figures: Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs), Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks), Muhammed Ali (boxing). In retrospect, I think it’s safe to say that they were my idols rather than heroes.

An idol is simply someone who is adored for various reasons: good looks, accomplishments, charisma, and so on. A hero, on the other hand, is someone who puts personal needs aside and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make a profound and positive impact on the life of another. Learning about heroes in the Bible and in the lives of the saints has been and continues to be an important feature of Catholic faith formation, since we learn from these extraordinary men and women how we can be people for others.

It just so happens that October 8 is National Hero Day, an opportunity for us to recognize the heroes in our own lives and to learn from them how we can lead heroic lives—putting our own needs aside and going above and beyond the call of duty to make a positive impact on the lives of others. This is a good opportunity to focus on biblical heroes, the saints, and the heroes in our everyday lives. Here are some resources that can help in exploring such heroes and the notion of heroic living:

Image from Pixabay.

About Joe Paprocki 2739 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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