Davis Motor Sales banner ad
Posted on 2/2/14

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 2015 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.

2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
1 DOW 17,164.95
-251.90 (-1.45%)    
2 S&P 1,994.99
-26.26 (-1.30%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,635.24
-48.17 (-1.03%)    
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

January 28, 2015 18096

UPDATED: Several Involved in Two-Vehicle Accident

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 26, 2015 9195

KSP Arrests Two on Child Porn Charges; MPD…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke
January 28, 2015 7258

Nortonville Man Accused of Meth Possession,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 26, 2015 6827

School Board Votes 3-2 for Utility Tax

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 25, 2015 6485

Juvenile Hit by Vehicle at McDonald's

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by GPD Officer Wes Miller
January 28, 2015 6379

Tax Recall Committee Formed Day After School…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 29, 2015 6269

Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of Child

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 31, 2015 6078

24-Year-Old Killed in One-Vehicle Collision

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read This Month

January 08, 2015 23603

Woman Claiming to be 'Lady Gaga' Tours Town in…

in Top News For All Sites by Madisonville Police Department
January 15, 2015 23193

UPDATE: Fatality Victim's Name Officially Released

in Top News For All Sites by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Today

January 31, 2015 6078

24-Year-Old Killed in One-Vehicle Collision

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
January 30, 2015 5931

More Than 800 Gather to Encircle HCCHS

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
January 31, 2015 1451

UPDATED GAME STORY: Muhlenberg Mustangs Trample…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Mike Groves
January 30, 2015 1334

Governor, First Lady, Commissioner Celebrate New…

in Top News For All Sites by Office of the Governor
January 31, 2015 1124

Eating Only during 9-12 Hour Period May Help…

in General News For All Sites by Melissa Landon
January 31, 2015 1013

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

in Hopkins News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
January 31, 2015 1012

Hooked on Science - 'Chemical Reaction Splash'

in General News For All Sites by Jason Lindsey
January 31, 2015 943

Woman Veterans Video Now on KDVA YouTube

in General News For All Sites by Lisa Aug
January 31, 2015 882

Keeping the Faith - 'Will Practice Make Perfect?'

in General News For All Sites by Ronnie McBrayer
January 31, 2015 680

Daviess County Traffic Advisory

in Owensboro News by Keith Todd
January 31, 2015 671

Merle Travis Fans Pay Tribute to Thumbpicking…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
January 31, 2015 517

Local Church Offering Food for Body, Mind, Spirit

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