Thursday, June 16, 2011

Holy Courage

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14

The fifth gift of the Spirit we receive in Baptism and Confirmation is the gift of Fortitude. There are a lot of things in life that require courage: jumping out of an airplane with some rope and silk hanging from your back, jumping off a bridge with a big rubber band attached to your butt, dancing with wolves, going in a shark cage…but these things require crazy courage. What the gift of fortitude imbues us with is HOLY courage.

Remember that the gift of counsel helps us to know the difference between right and wrong. And while that it is a good start, we all know there is a big difference between just knowing right from wrong and doing the right thing or avoiding the wrong thing. And so God gives us this gift of fortitude to DO what we know is right and to avoid what we know is bad. It is like fuel for the soul.

In fact, fortitude helps us in two main ways. First, it helps us to do what is right no matter the cost or consequences and second, it helps us to follow through on the commitments we have made before God. How does this work in real life?

There is a lot of pressure out there to do the wrong thing (especially for young people). This gift gives us the holy courage to stand up for our beliefs as Catholic Christians and live for Jesus no matter the flack we might get. Like the Apostles on Pentecost, we will not let fear keep us from living our faith. And people will be drawn to Christ as we live a life of purity, love, and joy. Our actions will be born from intentions based in love.

In addition this gift might help us to keep volunteering somewhere when it gets tough, or keep helping a neighbor when it gets boring or even stay in a difficult marriage when instead of just giving up without a fight as so many people in our culture do these days. It helps us stay committed to God and to others and to think less selfishly and be more generous to give ourselves away in love and service to others.

So often today it is easy to be a “closet” Christian. You know, we go to church and maybe even get involved in youth ministry or Bible studies, but generally we still do what everyone else is doing at school or work or when out with friends. And so instead of being agents of hope and change in our lost world, we simply blend in and go with the flow. This gift of holy courage will help us to be difference makers in our world. It will help us live counter-culturally, not to condemn the world, but to offer something better, something real, something that every human heart is looking for. The question is: will we cooperate with this grace or not?

Dear Jesus, thank You for the gift of fortitude. Help me to use this holy courage to live for You and to show people the joy and peace that comes from following You. Amen.

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