REVIEW: A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey. “If you want to be a hero, you can be.”

In another entry I mentioned a new book by Fr. Robert Sirico called A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey.

US paperback HERE and Kindle HERE.

UK paperback HERE Kindle HERE.

Here is a blurb from the book:

Do you feel like something big is missing from your life? Do you feel trapped, bored, stuck in a meaningless routine? It may be you think you’re too ordinary to ever do something special. Perhaps you’re afraid that if you try, you’ll fail. The startling truth is this: Just about anyone can do great things, can live a life that’s remarkable, purposeful, excellent, and yes, even heroic. If you want to be a hero, you can be. How? That’s what this book is all about. Will you choose to do it? Will you decide to journey heroically, instead of spending your life merely marking time? If so, this is the book for you. Welcome to your heroic journey.

The book is not overtly Catholic, and you could give it to anyone.  It should have a wide appeal.  If we read it with a Catholic lens, we will see that the book is also making an appeal to us to live a life of heroic virtue.

The book is a collection of short pieces on certain perennial human questions and challenges.  Each section is followed with some questions and suggestions.

Here is part of the Table of Contents, so you can see what is going on:

Introduction: Calling All Heroes (Could This Mean You?)

1. The First Step 1
My First Step—Jeff Sandefer 2
Asking Life’s Deep Questions—Rev. Robert Sirico 3
The Man in the Arena—Theodore Roosevelt 5
Can’t—Edgar A. Guest 6
Things Not Done Before—Edgar A. Guest 7
The Lark and Her Young Ones—Aesop 8  [I love that throughout they included Aesop!  7 times!]
Psalm of Life—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 9

2. Who Am I, and Who Do I Want to Become?

3. The Importance of Setting Guardrails

4. What Companions Do You Want with You on Your Journey?

5. Stones in the Road

6. The Giant of Despair

7. Rest

8. Fighting the Dragon

9. Coming Home

The fact is, every single person born into this world is called to holiness.  We should strive for holiness and a life of virtue even to a heroic degree. As I wrote elsewhere:

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are about to say.  “Heroic virtue?  Really?  How can any of us aspire to such a thing!  That’s sounds terribly difficult!”

It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

We are all called to be saints.  God wouldn’t ask something of us that isn’t possible.  And when He asks things that are hard, He also provides the means and the occasions.  Even in your suffering, for example, or your obscurity, you can serve Him.  God knew you before the creation of the material universe.  He called you into being now, in this world.  Of all the possible worlds God could have created, He created this world, into which you would be born. He has a plan and purpose your you, if you will embrace it.

The “heroism” to which we are called does not consist mainly in great or famous or dramatic acts or accomplishments.  It might include those, but it does not mainly consist of those.  Every person has the possibility of this sort of heroism, even if he does nothing spectacular.  When it comes to the causes of saints, very often people with more dramatic or famous lives comes to the attention of others, and therefore they are more likely to be the subjects of causes.

Living a virtuous life even in the tedium of routine or the obscurity of everyday living can be heroic.

Accepting God’s will, living in conformity with God’s will is the true test of a Christian.  That is the essence of “heroic” virtue, not what appears outwardly to be heroic (though that may also be heroic, as in the dramatic case of the martyr).

Furthermore, people don’t, except by a rare gift from God, instantly or easily attain the state of living a life of virtue heroically.  Virtues are habits.  Some virtues, the theological virtues, are infused into us by God with baptism and sacraments.  They “dwell” in us “habitually” (“dwell” and “habit” are etymologically related… think of a “habitat” where critters “dwell”).  Virtues are habits, good practices and attitudes which are in us to a degree that it is easy for us to do them rather than hard.  This usually takes time and maturity.  We don’t suddenly, except by a special grace, become virtuous.  It can take a whole lifetime and many stumbles along the way.

Okay… I am digressing, but not really

US paperback HERE and Kindle HERE.

UK paperback HERE Kindle HERE.

I will also remind you of a book I mentioned a while back, put together by another priest, Fr. Richard Heilman, Church Militant Field Manual: Special Forces Training For The Life In Christ.

Fr. Heilman, started a men’s group called The Knights of Divine Mercy.  This book is their “field manual” to help them get “God Strong”.  We belong to the Church militant after all. Book HERE Kindle HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The Masked Chicken says:

    I don’t know if I could ever be a hero. I’m a chicken, after all.

    The Chicken

  2. avecrux says:

    I wish more people were familiar with the Harris Brothers – Evangelicals, but in full agreement with Catholics on so many things (even contraception!). Their “Rebelution” (teenage rebellion against low expectations and a living out of Timothy 4:12) is a clarion call to heroic virtue for young people.
    Check out their “modesty survey”:
    Their book, “Do Hard Things” and follow up “Start Here” are useful tools, as far as I am concerned.

  3. WaywardSailor says:

    Thanks to your post on Tuesday, dear Father, I ordered (through your link), and have just received, two copies of Fr. Heilman’s “Field Guide”. I pray both will be put to fruitful use.

  4. WaywardSailor: GREAT! Thanks for that!

  5. kittenchan says:

    Is the book directed at men, or do you think it would appeal to a woman as well? I am considering getting it for my sister.

  6. LisaP. says:

    avecrux, that is a fun pair.
    A friend passed me on a book called “Captivating”, one of those Catholic women’s books, but this one ran on the theme that women need *adventure*. I sure like that better than some of the “how to be a Christian woman” books that seem to think telling us we were created to do dishes should make dishes enchanting to us.
    I think I’ll give this book a run. I think that in all our calls to sacrifice, endurance, perseverance, etc. we often forget to call people to courage and adventure, the exciting and stirring side of things. I’ve been reading Stevenson and Verne with the kids, a good adventure story is invaluable.
    On a related note, watched this video lately on whether Catholics should do Halloween, this seemed right on to me, and it had to do with drama.

  7. PostCatholic says:

    My grandmother would rouse us from bed if we were still there longer than she saw fit with words from “Psalm of Life” by Longfellow (a Unitarian, btw): “Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate!” Except at those moments, I’ve always loved Longfellow; I grew up near his home and attended a grade school that was named in his honor.

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