The Best of Us

One week before classes started at Trocaire College, where I teach a section or two each semester, I got word that my main text book was unavailable. Ooof. Seriously, I was thrown waaaaaay off by that. So I had to scramble – and I came up with a few books to add on – but they were books that I hadn’t read before. (I’d be learning with the students!)

One of these newly added books is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

Man's Search for Meaning [Book]

Even though we’re not using it in class quite yet, I started reading it pretty quickly after I received my copy from the college – and was slammed, right away. I mean page 6 sort of right away.

Here I was, assuming that it’d be a story of faith and suffering and struggles and horrors from Frankl’s survival of the holocaust… but 6 pages in, it was already challenging me.

We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles – whatever one may choose to call them – we know: the best of us did not return.

That last phrase “the best of us did not return” really struck me, and I still can’t quite put into words why. I think it’s because I claim to believe in things – my God, my Church, my wife, my family… And sure, I’ve had some struggles, but I’ve never really suffered because of them. Which makes me wonder – am I really living it out? Because if I were one of the best of us – wouldn’t I have suffered for the sake of these things?

Frankl was alluding to the fact that many of those who returned did so essentially because they had the goal of escaping with their life – at all costs – even if it meant sacrificing friends and family. It got me thinking about all the early Christians, about those who fought in all the American wars – from the Revolution through wars still going on now – if these people are the best of us – if these are the people who have the guts, the courage and the faith in what they’re fighting for – what am I? Just a passenger? A beneficiary of someone else’s willingness?

I’m not sure. I know it is still punching me in the gut now. It’s a challenge to go deeper into my faith – to really see where I’m called. Most likely, I’m called to do more than raise a family in suburban USA. Even though really listening for and following a call could be life changing – (destroying?) – isn’t that what it takes to be one of the best of us?

I do know, I want to be one of the best of us. As Benedict XVI told us – “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” I pray for the courage, guts & faith to be great.


  1. Fr. Paul · January 25, 2012

    Loved that book! Fr. Marty Moleski had us read it for the same class @ Canisius.

  2. Erin Reukauf · January 26, 2012

    Joe, I don’t think that you need to seek out major struggles in your life/faith in order to be living it out. If you were to look back on your life, I think that you would see that you have been able to weather many a storm simply because of your faith. Certainly your faith and how you live it continues to provide an example for your fellow “man” (ie friends, family, etc.) to look up to. Not all of us are called to serve on the front lines just to prove to God that we are worthy. But if that is something that you would like to do at some point, to challenge your faith and your calling in life, than by all means I’m sure you will weather that challenge too. You are so young and I’m sure that God is not finished using you as a witness to the faith. Continue to serve Him in the ways that he is a calling you and one day you will be ready to do more…when the time comes. Peace. Erin

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