As I grow in my spiritual life over the years, I find that trying to figure out God and my relationship with Him means trying to figure out my husband. When Fr. Thomas Dubay talked about “heroic”, my first thought was: “My husband! OF COURSE!”
My husband isn’t perfect. He’s actually a perfectionist like me, but that’s where the similarity ends. His perfectionism consists of perfecting himself, while mine consists of trying to perfect others and getting frustrated in the process, because obviously the only person I can really change is myself. I can try and mold my children into how *I* think they should be as Christians/Catholics who have a worthwhile contribution to make in the world, but as I’ve said before, in the end it’s not about me.
My hubby’s interior life is admirable. He bears all things, not with a grin, but with a quiet grace. He is not a complainer. He does things simply because he knows they’re the right thing to do. I don’t know how he developed this strength of character and will, but I’m grateful to have such an example in my life. Two words describe him: even keel. My husband is reliable like a well-built ship on a stormy sea. He’s low maintenance, which makes it easy to ignore his unspoken needs, and I have to be careful so I don’t take him for granted, which sadly I manage to do every now and then.
He’s been through a lot especially in his childhood, which I won’t detail here. Suffice it to say it wasn’t exactly a happy one, and there were heartaches at a very young age, though by the grace of God he was also gifted with a couple of great role models and by the looks of it, they made a discernible difference in who he is, this man that I married.
He has been reading the Bible daily for most of his life, from Genesis to Revelation. When he finishes, he starts all over again. That only changed when he married me, because every now and then I’d hand him a spiritual reading book I think he might like, though heaven knows I need it more than he does. Then he goes back to reading God’s Word.
God knows me so well. He knows that reading about the saints, watching movies about them, and reading their writings still wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to virtue. He had to put a living, breathing specimen in my life whom I could emulate… someone who lives his life heroically, almost 24/7/365.
Why do I talk about my husband’s spiritual life instead of mine? Because he’s obviously doing something right. He may not be a great Bible scholar, he may not know Latin or Greek, or have a thorough knowledge of apologetics. He doesn’t have the rules of abstinence and fasting memorized, and he doesn’t know what the GIRM says. After 23 years of marriage, my blinders are off and I do not speak from the point of view of a lovestruck teen. I am not blind to his faults, but there aren’t many. And I know he’s at least several steps ahead of me spiritually, because of the way he lives his life and the way he deals with people and situations around him.
All of us are called to become saints, Fr. Dubay says. My hubby seems to be already halfway there (if not more), so this Lent I am doing my best to follow in his footsteps.
More on heroic virtue:
From Catholic Encyclopedia (I wish I could quote the entire!):
An heroic virtue, then, is a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with very great, if not insurmountable, diffulties.
So, heroic virtue consists mainly in living in the state of grace, hating sin and imperfections and striving to overcome them while carrying out one’s vocation, always accepting God’s will with faith, hope and charity as we go forward during these short years on earth toward the goal of heaven, trusting that God’s providence guides all things. This life may have moments which are dramatic and famous. It will probably be rather plain and obscure. But it is not mediocre.