Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | 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...

Accident with Injuries

HENDERSON, Ky. (10/20/14) — On Oct. 17, officers responded to the area of Second Street and North Alvasia Street in… Read More

Henderson County Police Reports

HENDERSON, Ky. (10/20/14) — The Henderson Police Department released the following reports. On Oct. 17, 2014, the… Read More

Most Read This Week

October 17, 2014 11398

UK Women's Soccer Welcomes Ole Miss, No. 5/4…

in General Sports For All Sites by UK Athletics
October 15, 2014 3448

Family Business, Graphics Pros to Open Friday

in Top News For All Sites by Shawn Freels
October 15, 2014 3324

Chamber Meeting and More Announced

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Dorothy Walker
October 17, 2014 3202

Single Vehicle Collision Results in One Injury

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper S. C. Recke
October 15, 2014 3101

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Oct. 15, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
October 15, 2014 2809

Woman Arrested for Domestic Dispute in the Street

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 19, 2014 2661

Kentucky Energy Department Releases Virtual Solar…

in General News For All Sites by Dick Brown
October 20, 2014 2630

Uncle Lee's in Greenville is Closing Its Doors…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by www.unclelees.com
October 17, 2014 2588

Woman Arrested at Taco Bell for DUI

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 16, 2014 2426

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Oct. 16, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department

Trending Now

October 19, 2014 2661

Kentucky Energy Department Releases Virtual Solar…

in General News For All Sites by Dick Brown
October 20, 2014 2630

Uncle Lee's in Greenville is Closing Its Doors…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by www.unclelees.com
October 20, 2014 1731

Man Charged for Assaulting Pregnant Wife

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 19, 2014 1497

Right-to-Work: The Right Message for Kentucky’s…

in General News For All Sites by Jim Waters
October 19, 2014 1314

Avoid Halloween Makeup Allergies and Other…

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
October 19, 2014 1211

Key to Cooking with Pumpkins

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
October 20, 2014 1135

Man Arrested for Shoplifting, Assaulting Police…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 19, 2014 1120

The Legend of Jack-o'-Lanterns

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
October 20, 2014 928

KU and LG&E to Fund Qualified Tree-Planting…

in General News For All Sites by Cliff Feltham
October 19, 2014 927

Outdoor Truths - Oct. 19, 2014

in General News For All Sites by Gary Miller

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
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