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"Brag like a saint" by Rose Folsom (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: DepositPhotos.com; licensed by author.[/caption] A friend said, “I love being accountable to my prayer partner every week. Because I’m kinda braggy, like, ‘I made it to Mass every day.’” My friend is in good company. The Blessed Virgin said that her soul magnifies the Lord because He has done great things for her. Paul wrote that he boasts in Christ, and him crucified. The saints brag all over the place, but they brag about God, not themselves. Inspiring brags The saints inspire me to holiness when they describe their victories over the devil and their own egos. Like the time St. Thérèse of Lisieux overcame her temptation to clobber the nun in the next pew who constantly clicked her false teeth as she prayed the Rosary. When you’re in a Carmelite monastery, that nun ain’t going anywhere and neither are you. So you need to overlook it, go insane, or face assault and battery charges. Our hero Thérèse chose the first option (after narrowly escaping the second). If Thérèse can get over the clicking sister, I can overlook the lady in the Adoration chapel who spends half the time rummaging through her plastic bag. As a new Catholic, I gained confidence to accept annoyances because the Little Flower let me know it was possible — and showed me how. And all because she “bragged” about her victory. Finding the marvelous, even in prison Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a Protestant minister and theologian who wrote the following words in a Nazi concentration camp shortly before his execution:
Only the humble believe [God] and rejoice that [he] is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly.
Bonhoeffer is calling himself “marvelous” and “loved.” But it’s not himself he’s in awe of, it’s the merciful power of Jesus that raises up the lowly, especially in the most dire circumstances. Holy bragging We can be good at beating ourselves up if we fall short of what we think we should be. So why not “holy brag” to a prayer partner when we succeed in listening to God? Why not share it with a friend when we notice an old wound is being healed or a new virtuous habit is forming? It’s a way to proclaim the joy, as Mary did with Elizabeth, in how God is working in our lives to make us, yes, saints. Brag away, I say, as long as we put the credit in the right place — and as long as our joy comes from putting God’s loving will above our own preferences, and doing it with a grateful heart. Then we can rejoice with Mary: “the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.”
Copyright 2020 Rose Folsom