Growing up we had a lot of phrases that today seem a bit out of place and perhaps even “politically incorrect”. At the time I guess we weren’t smart enough to know this so we threw them around pretty frequently. My mother, who actually had a pretty extensive vocabulary and was somewhat “refined”, could fire them around with the best of them.
Believe it or not, at times she actually called my brothers (& me) imbeciles; this was usually after we had done something imbecilic. She actually knew what she was talking about. “With the introduction of the intelligence test, developed by Binet in France, and brought to this country by Goddard, it became an accepted practice to relate these three terms to specific I.Q. scores *—idiot for those scoring below 25, imbecile 25 to 50, and moron 50-70/75.”
Another common term was oddball….. “ gee that person is a bit of an oddball …… “a person that is eccentric, or nonconforming, whimsically free-spirited, atypical.”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Not all oddballs are saints, but most saints are oddballs”. Who said this? Was it Aquinas, Augustine, JPII ? Well no, I actually came up with it. Hmmmmm….. I hope I don’t get excommunicated.
Each morning I read about the saints in the Magnificat. It’s amazing how most do not fit the pattern of the “typical saint” …… “gee, everyone loved them, they never made any waves, they were brilliant, no controversy.” In truth it seems like “hubbub” followed most saints around.
I read about St. Gaspar today…. “mockers described his community as a circus”….. yes, a circus. His “flock” wasn’t the prestigious and powerful. “He cared for the poor and the sick, formed prayer groups, reached out to farmers and day laborers who had lost their faith.” (Magnificat, July 21, 2022)
St. Herman the Cripple’s feast is on September the 25th. He was born with a cleft palette, spina bifida, a cerebral palsy… he had difficulty speaking and writing. Who would have pegged him for a future saint? Yet he was brilliant in other areas…photographic memory, adept in music, math, history. He wrote the Salve Regina. His good cheer and humility made everyone love him.” (Magnificat July 20, 2022)
Think of the controversy surrounding Padre Pio or St. Francis, or Augustine, or Mary Magdalene. In the best sense of the word, these saints were “odd balls”.
Cardinal Paul Cordes who worked with many of the new movements over the past 50 years spoke about how many founders of new orders and movements were controversial….. “Anthony, ran away from Egypt, which at that time was rich in goods and science, to reject corruption. It was the same for Benedict, who left Rome, and for Francis and Dominic, for Ignatius… these men of God say: “It cannot go on this way,” and they begin something new, going out led by the Spirit.”
So let’s not be too quick to discount the next odd ball we come across. “While not all oddballs are saints, it seems that most saints are oddballs”. Yet more than an odd ball, they are holy. They love the Lord and are willing to do whatever the Lord calls them to do, whether controversial or not. The church and the world today may not need more oddballs, but they definitely need more saints.