One of the difficulties with heroes is they often do not fit the mold. They are not always Captain America or Wonder Woman. Sometimes they seem less than in our eyes once you get to know them. It is difficult to put true heroes into a niche and it is even more difficult to make them something particular to our own ideology.
Fr. Mychal Judge is one such hero. A very sweet, loving and orthodox Catholic priest who recognized his own homosexuality without breaking his vows, he is listed as Victim #1 with the FDNY on 9/11. Fr. Mychal was a tireless worker among workers, a man of God who fought for the dignity and redemption of others within the Catholic Community who are homosexual and struggling with their relationship with God and His Church. He gave of himself to those diagnosed with AIDS and in need of care I imagine he would be, today, giving aid and comfort to those struggling with all the ugliness of COVID-19. Father Mychal loved God, The Church, Truth and people and understood that what actions one takes in their daily life determines their worthiness to receive The Eucharist.
But he was also a man with his own demons. The toughest fight he waged was not about his sexuality.
Fr. Mychal was an alcoholic.
I got to meet him as 'one of us' and came to love his sturdy approach to our shared Faith Tradition. He professed and proclaimed to be True all that Holy Mother Church professes and proclaims to be True without regret, yet he never lost sight of how important it is for the world to see the Love and Mercy of Jesus. He was unafraid (maybe) about the state of the world or the government or any of the stuff so many of us get all ruffled about and because his trust in Our Lord was so profound. Like Benedict the 16th, he made observations about The Church becoming both smaller AND stronger and so he would simply go about his day doing the best he could 24 hours at a time.
After his death the battle between the Trads and the Mods went off at full force - he was gay, no he wasn't gay, he was liberal, no he wasn't, he wanted Church Teaching to change, no he didn't - and the number of articles written about this dear man mounted in number.
For those of us who saw his body being taken from the rubble of the Towers by his firefighters, none of that has ever mattered. All I could think of was, "oh God no....please not him" because I knew he was one of the good guys.
And there seem to be so few of them today.
This is not a blog post about Father Mychal Judge to prove anything about him. He died performing his duties as a duly ordained Catholic priest and he did it without regard for his own safety. He was loved by people who were marginalized and loved by cis white males and loved by the LGBTQX community and loved by alkies like me. He was loved.
If I die today, I am hoping that this could be said of me: It doesn't matter. She was loved.