Singer song-writer Bonnie Tyler in 1984 sang, I’m Holding Out for a Hero. In the song she asks, “Where have all the heroes gone?”
It’s a good question especially in these difficult times.
Heaven knows we don’t need more million-dollar athletes or busted up Hollywood actors and actresses clawing their way to fame and fortune. We don’t need more politicians who say or do anything to get elected and gain power. We need more statespersons—people who rise above politics, who’re of high integrity, and work for the common good of all.
We need more heroes.
What’s a Hero?
Heroes are admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. They inspire and teach us. Through their examples—their triumphs and struggles—they show us how to live our best life.
While heroes have many characteristics, here are several common traits according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology as reported in the on-line magazine, Very Well Mind:
- Moral integrity
These psychological qualities are helpful and important as we discern who’s a hero.
And if we add a spiritual lens, our heroes become sacred guides who help us connect with the deeper wisdom within us. They become our teachers.
What’s a Spiritual Hero?
Perhaps a spiritual hero is simply someone that lives from the heart of love. Their traits are best described in 1 Corinthians 13, paraphrased below:
A spiritual hero is patient.
They are kind.
They do not boast about their accomplishments.
They are humble. They know they need God’s grace and guidance.
They respect others and accept their own and others’ imperfections.
They are not self-centered. They listen and hear others’ perspectives and needs.
They are slow to anger.
They don’t keep track of other’s mistakes or failures.
They don’t focus on the problem. They focus on the solution.
They seek and delight in truth. Wisdom, not sound bites, are their inner guide.
They protect others and don’t speak badly about them behind their backs.
They trust God.
They seek Divine guidance in daily life through meditation and prayer.
They find hope even during troubled times.
They are resilient because they are rooted in love.
Mary and Mother Teresa—Two Woman Who Lived from the Heart of Love
When I consider who fits the above description, Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa) and the Virgin Mary come to mind.
Both women were patient with themselves and others. They trusted the slow work of God, whether tending to the dying or carrying the Savior in their womb.
They were kind even when others misunderstood or lashed out at them. They didn’t hold on to other’s past mistakes. Mother Teresa was ridiculed for the work she did as being too little, too late. And Mary was viewed by some as a woman who violated Jewish law by becoming an unwed mother. Yet they followed their hearts and continued to do the work God had given them.
Both women found their roots in God’s unconditional love for themselves and others. They took time for daily meditation and deep listening. They let the Divine lead them day-by-day.
The Wisdom of CS Lewis
In his book, The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis’ fictional character Screwtape taught his student Wormwood to sidetrack humans by feeding them a steady diet of sports, politics, and entertainment. In doing so, Screwtape said, people would gorge themselves on consumer-culture gods and divert their attention away from following the Holy One.
Perhaps we’ve done what Lewis warned us not to do. We’ve let the false gods of sports, politics, entertainment, and the news and social media pundits capture our attention. Madonna and Lebron (“King”) James and a host of others have become pop culture icons and we’ve forgotten what real heroes are.
What if instead of worshipping at the altar of these false gods, we focus on spiritual guides and heroes such as Mother Teresa and Mary who lived out the characteristics of love? What if they became our role models and our children knew more about them, than who got traded by the Green Bay Packers, what the latest Hollywood scandal is, or how much a technology guru gets paid?
I need a hero. What about you?
A 2022 Prayer: Help Me Live from the Heart of Love
This year, I want to look to Mary as a role model, a spiritual guide, a hero—someone full of grace to teach me how to quiet the endless chatter in my mind and let my heart become the center of my Being. I want to learn how to hear God’s voice like Mary did and live from a place where I trust God’s inner work within me.
I want to learn how to live from the heart of love.
I know I can’t get to that place on my own because we can’t think our way to our hearts.
I need God’s grace to lead me to my heart. So, I enter daily silence to listen for the Inner Voice of Love like Mary did.
As we enter a new year, may this prayer or whatever one you choose, lead you to your hero, your spiritual guide:
Hail Mary, full of grace, teach me to live from my heart.
Be with me when I feel disgraced, discouraged, bitter, and angry.
When I need to know I’m safe, cup my tears in your heart and hold me as you did Jesus. Let me know it’s all going to be okay. Help me trust God like you did.
Quiet the noisy chatter of my mind. Help me to open my heart to Divine Grace.
Then I can look to the Light, be filled with awe and gratitude, and utter, “Be it done to me according to God’s loving plan, even if I don’t understand it.”
Take a moment to consider, What’s your definition of a hero? Who’s your hero? Who’s your spiritual guide?
Read about them. Ponder their lives to discover what qualities they emulate. Seek to integrate those traits into your life.
Invite your hero to be your spiritual guide. Let them and God’s grace help you live from the sacred heart of love within all of us.
—brian j plachta
PS—-Here’s a link to a free YouTube Movie, Full of Grace, about the last days of Mary’s earthly life. It depicts her human struggle and triumph in a powerful and inspiring way. Click here to watch Full of Grace