Courage is one of our values

by | Jul 4, 2021 | Life, Work and the World

“Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” (St. Augustine)

 

One of the joys of being Catholic is having the full ‘deposit of faith’ in our hands. Our teachings on the virtuous life remind us that patriotism is a virtue; God and country (in that order) are our duty. Today we celebrate Independence day, an opportunity to give thanks to God for our freedom and for those who have fought over the centuries to preserve it. They didn’t do it alone; God’s hand in this was evidenced all around them as are miracles today for us. For example, testimonies from the experiences of POW’s (prisoners of war) in Vietnam tell us of God’s intervention through the prayers of the Body of Christ: 

Commander Denton: “By the fifth morning, I was nearing despair. I offered myself to God with an admission that I could take no more on my own. Tears ran down my face as I repeated my vow of surrender to Him. Strangely, as soon as I made the vow, a deep feeling of peace settled into my tortured mind and pain-wracked body, and the suffering left me completely. It was the most profound and deeply inspiring moment of my life.”  … 

“[I]n my case I don’t mind testifying to the main event that happened to me there, which was the shocking realization of the extent of generosity of God. How he would answer prayers. I kinda thought they were my own, but after I got home I realized how much Jane and the children and our friends were praying, but whatever, he surprised us – the prisoners – by the degree to which He was generous and beyond what we asked in His response to our prayers. I can say that my faith in God turned in that experience to knowledge of God, without exaggerating.” 

Admiral Stockdale: “From this eight-year experience, I distilled one all-purpose idea, plus a few corollaries. It is a simple idea, an idea as old as the scriptures, an idea that is the epitome of high-mindedness, an idea that naturally and spontaneously comes to men under pressure. If the pressure is intense enough or of long enough duration, this idea spreads without even the need for its enunciation. It just takes root naturally. It is an idea that, in this big easy world of yakety yak, seems to violate the rules of game theory, if not of reason. It violates the idea of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, our ideas of human nature, and probably the second law of thermodynamics. That idea is you are your brother’s keeper.”

(from When Hell was in Session by Jeremiah Denton, 2013)

 We are often told there have been more martyrs this past century than all previous centuries Today the battles are on our own soil, and we are called to the fight. While in the past we were blessed to have the support of our government in protecting our religious rights, which includes the rights of the domestic church (the family), today all of it seems to be crumbling. Angelo Cardinal Scola’s explanation of 4th century persecution aptly expresses what we are experiencing around us: 

In the same year, Diocletian began issuing measures aimed at Christians, initially limited to excluding them from the army. The true persecution began in 303, with the clear objective of a structural demolition of the Church: prohibition of the liturgical celebration, destruction of buildings of worship, confiscation of sacred books and furnishings. At the same time, the faithful were deprived of their recourse to the law and lost a series of personal rights and honors. Afterward the measures became more harsh.”

(From ‘Let’s Not Forget God’ by Angelo Cardinal Scola, 2014)

Jesus warned us that the world would hate us. “[B]ut take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33). 

“No one ought to consider himself a true servant of God who is not tried by many temptations and trials.” (St. Francis of Assisi)

Courage.

Around this same time of July, back in 2016, violence erupted in South Sudan (and still continues). It immediately resulted in in 300+ dead in 2 days. A UN analyst told me that people had tea in the morning together and by afternoon one will have cut off the other’s head leaving it in the street—it was dreadful.

At the same time, another of my South African students was a high-level regional director overseeing his company’s operations which was to provide telecommunications for the South Sudan region. To put his ‘job’ into perspective, imagine that you were the Regional Director for a company such as Verizon and your region was your entire home State. Think about being responsible for maintaining the towers that provide phone service as well as the customer service, all repairs and maintenance. Now imagine doing this under violent attack. Having arranged for evacuation of all staff and their families from Juba, he and 15 of his staff hid out and slept in the office, boarding up windows and hunkering down to keep South Sudan connected to the outside world. In the midst of this, he explained to me “courage is one of our values”.

This is how the rest of the world lives, their everyday work life. We have begun to see some of it here in our country too this past year. Violence is on the increase.  It can leave one to feel helpless. No future. No Hope. Unable to make a difference. 

This is what the enemy wants us to think, forgetting that one moment of prayer, as short as a breath, brings Eternal Grace upon the earth that has no ‘expiration date’. He wants us to forget that having the living presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in tabernacles around the world brings God tangibly into our midst. The enemy does not want us to know that having the Eucharist within us transforms us, rendering us vessels of His Grace and His instruments of peace. And the Grace entering our world isn’t limit to what we see, know or experience. It is distributed for all, and through all time. 

Never give up. No matter how small our prayer, God never forgets it nor overlooks it. The saints knew this; that’s why they emphasize living moment-to-moment in God’s presence, performing even the smallest of tasks for God’s glory, and keeping thoughts ordered towards Him. We cannot expect to know our prayers are answered; just trust they are. 

Courage is one of our values too. It is our Catholic heritage and a virtue we are called to embrace. We must continue to pray heroically and with belief for our worldwide Church, Pope Francis, all clergy and religious, and for the United States of America. 

O Christ Jesus

When all is darkness

And we feel our weakness and helplessness,

Give us the sense of Your Presence,

Your Love and Your Strength.

Help us to have perfect trust

In Your protecting love

And strengthening power,

So that nothing may frighten or worry us,

For, living close to You,

We shall see Your Hand, Your Purpose,

Your Will through all things. Amen (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

 

May God bless America, and may we respond to His Greater Glory. 😊

 

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