Skip To Main Content
Who's Your Superhero?
  • Culture
  • Orthodoxy
  • Prayer
Gigi Shadid

Spiderman: real or fake?  Fake. 

Black Panther: real or fake?  Fake.  

Captain America: real or fake? Fake.

All fake. All are made up characters from the minds of comic book creators. It’s a marvel (no pun intended) how much our children and young adults - and even us older adults - can tell you about any and every Marvel character, their backstories, as well as the multiverse from which they come. How much time do we invest watching movies and reading about superheroes who are all made up characters? Think about it. 

But not all heroes are make-believe.

The Kardashians: real or fake? Okay, that's a trick question.

How about Serena Williams and Michael Jordan: real or fake? Real.

We look up to them for being the G.O.A.T.s (Greatest Of All Time) in their respective sports. Millions watch them, study their moves, their work ethic, their workouts and diet regimens. We want to be like them. They even made a commercial about it back in the 90’s.  Gatorade featured Michael Jordan, and the catchy “I wanna be like Mike” jingle rang in our ears. Whoever plays basketball wants to be like Mike, like Kobe, like LeBron. They are the superheroes of their sport. Just recently, we watched Serena Williams play tennis in her final career matches. She was relentless, had grit, and continued to showcase her great mental and physical strength. She and other professional athletes like her inspire us to be great.

It’s nice to have real life heroes in sports, music, and even entertainment. But to what end?

Elite athletes, musicians, and actors can inspire us to be great, but the saints are our real superheroes. They inspire us to be holy. While it is not wrong to entertain ourselves by watching sports or comic book characters come to life on a big screen, what is wrong is if those are the only superheroes our children are exposed to.  We have to ask ourselves if we know more about them than we do about the saints. Our saints were (and are) real people who had real struggles and who can really relate to us. They inspire us to stay on the path to holiness and to get back up when we fall. Repent, relight your candle, and repeat. What’s more (and even somewhat mind blowing) is that the saints can actually intercede for us! Can Superman do that?

There are countless stories of the saints who have worked miracles by the power of God, even after their departure from this earthly life. Recall the life of Saint Nectarios. He is a modern day saint who lived and died in the earlier part of the twentieth century. We even have photographs of him. How many people have been healed from cancer and other illnesses through his intercessions? Read about his life and all the slander and suffering he endured, yet he remained humble and faithful to God. After he died, the nuns prepared his body for burial and placed his garment on the bed of a paralyzed man who shared the same hospital room as him. The paralyzed man was healed in that instant! He could walk again! For days, the hospital room was filled with the fragrance of myrrh so powerful that the room was then converted to a dedicated chapel to the Saint.  God revealed to his slanderers and to all the faithful people the holiness of Nectarios. 

Every day, the Church commemorates saints. Let's take time to learn about them. Download a daily scripture reading app from the Greek archdiocese or other reputable sources that include the lives of the saints of each day. Read the lives of the saints to your children at the dinner table or to your students during a story time so that they can get to know the saints as part of our Church family. Seek books about the saints. There are lots of them nowadays, and if you need help finding some, search Paterikon for Kids or Ancient Faith Publishing

It is good to know that we are not alone in our struggles. The saints are human like you and me; they are not fake. No saint is perfect, but each one has a story to tell of a life cloaked with repentance and humility. If you knew the true stories of Saint Mary of Egypt or Saint Moses of Ethiopia, you would be utterly shocked at their previous lives of sin and awestruck at their great repentance and conversion.  Saint Mary was found levitating in prayer after over four decades of repenting in the desert! The massive Saint Moses had a terrible temper and committed violent acts including robbery and even murder. Let’s just say that some very unexpected and dramatic events happened in his life which led to his repentance. (If you are curious, you should read all about it!) We have to think: if they can be holy, then I can be holy, too.

There is hope for all of us. We need these kinds of examples in our lives.  That’s why we hang up their icons in our homes and in our school, to remind us to be holy and to continue to fight the good fight.  We are not alone in the struggle.

Ultimately, we learn about the saints because they point us to Christ. They are reflections of Him. Let this be our new jingle: “Like Christ, if I could be like Christ.” In His extreme humility, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  He died willingly for us, descended into Hades and loosed the bonds of those who were there. He trampled down death by His own death and bestowed life unto all those who were in the tombs. Christ is risen! Christ is the Ultimate Superhero.