Pope Francis: ‘The life of a Christian ought to be courageous’

be-courageous-t-shirt2“We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.”–Hebrews 6:11

Yesterday Pope Francis gave this homily at morning Mass at Casa Marta on the daily scripture from Hebrews 6:10-20. I took courage from it as we enter the days of the Inauguration and Women’s March here in D.C., where our friends are threatened and harassed in taxis, public transportation, in their churches, etc.

From Independent Catholic News:

The life of a Christian ought to be courageous, Pope Francis said during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday. The day’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks about zeal, the courage to go forward, which should be our approach toward life, like the attitude of those who train for victory in the arena. But the Letter also speaks of the laziness that is the opposite of courage. “Living in the fridge,” the Pope summarised, “so that everything stays the same.”

“Lazy Christians, Christians who do not have the will to go forward, Christians who don’t fight to make things change, new things, the things that would do good for everyone, if these things would change. They are lazy, “parked” Christians. They have found in the Church a good place to park. And when I say Christians, I’m talking about laity, priests, bishops… Everyone. But they are parked Christians! For them the Church is a parking place that protects life, and they go forward with all the insurance possible. But these stationary Christians, they make me think of something the grandparents told us as children: beware of still water, that which doesn’t flow, it is the first to go bad.”

What makes Christians courageous is hope, while the “lazy Christians” don’t have hope, they are in retirement, the Pope said. It is beautiful to go into retirement after many years of work, but, he warned, “spending your whole life in retirement is ugly!” Hope, on the other hand, is the anchor that we cling to in order to keep fighting, even in difficult moments.
Continue reading “Pope Francis: ‘The life of a Christian ought to be courageous’”

Joan Chittister: The Courage to Try a Second Time

Joan+Chittister2“The problem with life is that it never really gets resolved. What’s more, the same issue that tested our mettle the first time we attempted it leaves us in doubt that we should ever attempt it again. The things that confuse us the first time we deal with them are just as likely to make us wonder about them the second time around as well. Certainty is a chimera. All we know for sure is that what we did last time in dealing with a problem either did or didn’t work. Will the same thing happen again? Who knows?

Faced with something that bested us the last time we met it, the whole thought of dealing with it again can make the heart grow weak. How can we ever dare to think of getting up and going on again? In fact, why even bother to try?

It is doubt that brings us to wrestle with the very foundations upon which our life is built. Can we do this thing? Should we do this thing? Why is this thing even worth trying to do? Why even try to do the impossible—to stretch ourselves beyond the normal, the average, the clearly possible?

And if we try it again and we fail, then what?

The second effort makes or breaks the average person. The second effort either deadens the soul to the rest of life or redefines us to ourselves. The second effort becomes the “I can’t” trap, the point after which we never try again, or it becomes the “I can” truth that lifts us to a new level of courage forever.

The call to live our lives to the pinnacle of truth within us, however impossible it may seem along the way, is a clarion one. We are each here to give our best and give our all in the service of the will of God for us. There is no going back. There is no staying down when we fall down. We bother to get up and try again because we said we would. There is only the answer of Isaiah, “Here I am, Lord. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

The very act of throwing ourselves into the wrestling match of the soul makes us a beacon of hope for those who come behind us. There is no such thing as weakness for those who are strong enough to keep on trying. “–Joan Chittister, OSB

Excerpted from The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life by Joan Chittister (Orbis)