Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Impressions pre-reset: 420826 Clicks pre-reset: 872

Keeping the Faith - A Saint Goes Marching In

ronniemcbrayer300 blackKENTUCKY (5/12/13) - Years ago my oldest son asked me a question: “What is a saint?” When you’re driving along with a numb mind at day’s end, as I was, that’s not the type of question you are prepared to answer. So I splattered out, “A saint is someone who does what God wants them to do.” My son answered, “If that’s a saint, then why did New Orleans choose that as their football mascot?” I didn’t have an answer for that question either.

What is a saint? Well, we often think of saints as being holy or remarkable people who did something extraordinary for God. We think of people we know personally who have influenced us: A grandmother, parent, or mentor whom we easily refer to as saints. Or we think of some poor lady with a worthless husband and an impossible life. She never loses her patience or resolve, so behind her back we talk about how great her reward in heaven will be, and we call her a saint.

Thomas Merton, a saintly person in his own right, said: “A saint is not someone who is good. It is someone who has experienced the goodness of God.” Going with Merton’s thought, saints are those have come to know deep, abiding grace. Saints understand that their failures and shortcomings do not disqualify them from receiving God’s love. Saints have learned that their grotesque, self-inflicted wounds, rather than alienating God, bring the divine to bear in their lives in unique and powerful ways.

Extraordinary. Influential. Determined. Fallible and damaged. If these are the characteristics of sainthood, then a true saint left the world in recent days: The writer, priest, preacher, alcoholic, divorcé, and all-round self-proclaimed “ragamuffin” known as Brennan Manning.

As a young man Brennan entered the seminary and was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood. He would go on to become a theologian, a campus minister, a spiritual director, the author of nearly two dozen books (his “Ragamuffin Gospel” should be required religious reading), and a practitioner in the way of Jesus, living among the poor as a mason’s assistant, a dishwasher, a voluntary prisoner, and a shrimper.

Of course, if Manning’s story and life ended there, there would be little doubt about his sainthood. Teaching theology, working among the pitiable and overlooked, self-imprisonment (though innocent) in order to minister to convicts, living among the rough and tumble fisherman of the Gulf Coast – who could be more like Jesus?

But Manning’s ministry and life disintegrated into horrific alcoholism. He was homeless and busted, living on a quart of vodka a day, when he finally entered treatment. It took him months to get sober, but he did, only to relapse. When sober again he began writing in earnest, left the priesthood, married Rosalyn, and moved to New Orleans (he was an avid Saints fan), where his marriage would end in divorce, and again he would land in rehab.

Manning says that the greatest regret of his life is not his relapses into alcoholism. His greatest regret is “The time I’ve wasted in shame, guilt, remorse, and self-condemnation…I’m not speaking about the appropriate guilt one ought to feel after committing a sin. I’m talking about wallowing in guilt, almost indulging in it, which is basically a kind of idolatry where I am the center of my focus and concern.”

He went on to say, “I can waste no more time being shocked or horrified that I have failed. There’s nothing else I can do now but help sinners journey from self-hatred to God’s love, and to help people see that if God ceased to love, God would cease to be God.”

This blessed, bumbling drunk; this muddled mix of failure and faithfulness; this holy, blue-eyed and blue-jean-wearing champion of grace did exactly that for untold thousands – he helped them find the love of God in spite of personal shame. And while I only knew him through his words, he did the same for me. So from one ragamuffin to another, “Thank you, Brennan. A saint truly is marching in.”

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button coupons

Stock Report

1 DOW 17,811.91
-3.03 (-0.02%)    
2 S&P 2,069.98
+2.95 (0.14%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,779.04
+20.79 (0.44%)    
3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16
button classifieds

In Other News...

Route Chosen for Kentucky 91/Kentucky 293 Princeton Connector

KENTUCKY (11/26/14) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has selected the route for a new Princeton Connector from… Read More

Muhlenberg Job Corps Recognizes Employee of the Month

MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (11/25/14) — The Muhlenberg Job Corps Center would like to recognize Brian Haire, Heavy… Read More
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

November 21, 2014 6980

Man Accused of Assaulting Coach During Basketball…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
November 22, 2014 4671

One Injured in Two Vehicle Collision in Greenville

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Miria Thomas
November 21, 2014 4376

Crashing Dump Trucks in Work Zone Cause Pennyrile…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke
November 21, 2014 3608

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
November 21, 2014 3416

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Nov. 21, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
November 21, 2014 2985

Swimming and Diving Closes Fall Season at Ohio…

in General Sports For All Sites by UK Athletics
November 24, 2014 2813

Two Charged for Possession of Meth After…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by MCSO/PIO Alex Piper
November 20, 2014 2634

Local Church Prepares for 'Return to Bethlehem'

in Video by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
November 21, 2014 2596

Kentucky Employers to Save About $112 million

in General News For All Sites by Cathy Lindsey
November 20, 2014 2587

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Nov. 20, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

November 25, 2014 2361

Madisonville Man Charged for Selling Cocaine

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
November 25, 2014 2155

Call for Help Results in Arrest for Possession of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
November 25, 2014 1478

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Nov. 25, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
November 25, 2014 1466

Slow Cook a Turkey for a Tasty Thanksgiving Feast

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
November 25, 2014 1404

Protect Your Home When Traveling This Holiday…

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
November 24, 2014 1274

KSP Post 2 Thanksgiving Holiday Enforcement…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper S. C. Recke
November 25, 2014 1192

Muhlenberg Job Corps Recognizes Employee of the…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Karen Robinson
November 25, 2014 1111

Construction Projects Suspended to Ease Holiday…

in General News For All Sites by Lisa Tolliver
November 25, 2014 978

Parking Committee 2015 Meeting Schedule

in Owensboro News by Beth Cecil
November 25, 2014 917

Bake Sale Held for Two Year-Old Burn Victim

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss