Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

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.

Posted on 2/2/14
3/13 - 16
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
button coupons
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
button classifieds
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

December 16, 2014 11079

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 17, 2014 7995

Elderly Couple Found Shot to Death in Muhlenberg

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 17, 2014 6909

Three Men Charged with Burglary

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 19, 2014 4955

Armstrong Mine to Layoff 39 by End of Day

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
December 19, 2014 4691

Dawson Springs Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Detective Sean McCance
December 18, 2014 4287

Cat Scratching over Dog Ownership Escalates

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
December 16, 2014 4252

Highway Crews Pre-Treating Roadways for Potential…

in Hopkins News by Keith Todd
December 19, 2014 4236

Woman Flown to St. Mary's after Two-Car Collision

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 16, 2014 4009

KFWC Proposes 2015-2016 Deer Season Dates and…

in General News For All Sites by Department of Fish and Wildlife
December 19, 2014 3597

Vehicle Fire Causes Traffic Back-Up on Pennyrile

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis

Stories Trending Today

December 20, 2014 2042

KET’s Kentucky Life Segment to Feature Old…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 21, 2014 1671

UK Family Doctor Gives Back, Stays Grounded…

in General News For All Sites by Allison Perry and Elizabeth Adams
December 22, 2014 1567

Earlington Church Toy Drive Blesses Community…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
December 21, 2014 1479

Final 'Frozen' Performance Set for Tonight at LWC

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 21, 2014 1468

AG Conway Announces 2014 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe…

in General News For All Sites by Daniel Kemp
December 21, 2014 1296

Edumedics LLC to Expand Louisville Headquarters,…

in General News For All Sites by Office of the Governor
December 21, 2014 1260

Follow Safe Sleep Recommendations for Infants

in General News For All Sites by Beth Fisher
December 21, 2014 1252

NCM Motorsports Park to Break Ground on Kimberlee…

in General News For All Sites by National Corvette Museum
December 21, 2014 1092

Legislator's Log - Week of Dec. 21, 2014

in General News For All Sites by Brent Yonts
December 21, 2014 1081

Dave Says - Dec. 21, 2014

in General News For All Sites by Dave Ramsey

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