Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

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.

In Other News...

Business Spotlight - ProRehab Serves Communities in Two States

HENDERSON, Ky. (7/22/14) — With locations that include Madisonville, Henderson, Bowling Green and even Haiti, the… Read More

Henderson Home Robbery

HENDERSON, Ky. (7/21/14) — On July 20, 2014, the Henderson Police Department responded to a robbery at 307 South Ingram… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

July 18, 2014 2847

Madisonville Man Arrested for Meth in…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1956

Hopkins County Health Department Food…

in News by Lisa Miller
July 18, 2014 1799

K9 Unit Helps Find Meth in Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1711

Man Injured in Depoy Accident

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 21, 2014 1667

Five Sent to Hospital After Two-Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

July 18, 2014 2847

Madisonville Man Arrested for Meth in…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 19, 2014 976

Local Hip-Hop Artist, Marack, Talks About…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 857

Three Injured in Three-Vehicle Collision…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 19, 2014 790

Riddle Insurance Inaugural Flight

in Top Stories by Ron Sanders
July 21, 2014 742

Madisonville Fire Chief Announces…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

July 18, 2014 1536

Owensboro Police Department Reports…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 667

Portion of Southeastern Parkway Closed…

in News by Beth Cecil
July 18, 2014 402

Owensboro Begins Year-Long, Long Range…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 365

Strahan Selected as Cravens Elementary…

in Top Stories by Julie Ellis
July 21, 2014 179

ODC 14-Year-Olds Win West State, Move on…

in Top Stories by Steve LeMaster

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

July 18, 2014 1799

K9 Unit Helps Find Meth in Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1711

Man Injured in Depoy Accident

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 21, 2014 1667

Five Sent to Hospital After Two-Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 18, 2014 1313

From New York to Greenville, Iron Beam…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 19, 2014 1234

Cash Mob Descends on Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


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

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03