Bravery – What the Saints Can Teach Us
Bravery. What does that mean today? For me, when the world is pushing and pulling and I need to stand my ground, I lean into my foundation and my tenants of faith. I believe in creating my structure of being from inside out. I pray to unite all of my being to God and to respond in the highest and greatest good—to respond and react the way that God would. WOW... now if I really did that, I would be the true definition of BRAVE!
First of all, I just need to figure out who I am and what I stand for. With all the propaganda, news, devastation, and complexity swirling around the world right now, I truly believe my greatest contribution to humanity is to confidently be who I am and hold that ground. It’s not just about standing up for what I believe to be true though. It’s about moving through truth and sparking new life with every step.
What is worth fighting for? What does bravery look like? What is the good fight? When these questions flood me, I tend to look at people that have inspired me and look at their life as an inspiration on how to live. Think of St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John the Evangelist or St. Ignatius Loyola… they seemed to master the secret of life and became one with God in the highest form of self (the place where our life enhances the life of others, either in a direct teaching, blessing, love, or simply through the magnitude of prayer and compassion).
Let’s take St. Joan of Arc for the first example of BRAVERY. Hers is the most well known because it is part of a history that changed France forever. She was only 14 years old and had a desire to help her country. She heard the word of God and the message of Archangel Michael to lead the French Army to victory and remain a free country from Britain. She heard the calling and courageously marched forward with determination, perseverance, and FAITH. She believed that what the Lord told her would be true (“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” -Luke 1:45). At 14, she dressed as a man, commanded an army, and saved her country... all on the word of GOD! Wow, I want to move into action when called.
My personal prayer: “God, allow me to hear your voice when you call and give me the courage to march forward, bringing your light and love into the world. Help me to always fight the good fight.”
Then we have St. Francis of Assisi, a man of nobility that had planned to fight in the army for his country but was asked to fight for God instead. He literally had an “aha” moment where God touched his heart in such a real and tangible way that he fell in LOVE with GOD and wanted to share the good news with everyone. He gave away everything he owned and traded his nice royal velvet robe for an itchy brown cassock. He crossed religious lines to invite all into the love of God. He went into Muslim mosques and Hindu temples, and he shared the love of “the one God” and invited the leaders to learn more. He walked into the leper colony to hug and love on the untouchables, to remind them that they were all loved perfectly in their imperfect state of being. He shared his love for nature, animals, and the universe as God’s creations. He became a channel of peace and love for the world. He channeled God. I want to be a channel of God’s peace.
My personal prayer: “God, help me be brave and make me an instrument of your peace and love!”
St. Teresa of Avila wanted to be nothing and have God, within her, be everything. She was beautiful, educated, and was destined for greatness. When she begged her parents to join the convent, they were at first against it. They thought, “how could our beautiful daughter go into hiding.” As she entered the convent, she was different from the other nuns and no one could really understand her method of prayer. She would pray for hours and would relish in quiet time with our Lord. She is also known to be a reformer. She saw the ways of the Pope as leading the flock away from the truth of Christ and the truth of the Church. So she BRAVELY requested a meeting, met with the Pope, and told him that he must reform the church back to the way that it was intended and start teaching the light and love of Christ to all. The Pope listened and the church was in fact reformed! St. Teresa of Avila wrote an epic book called The Interior Castle that takes us room by room into the interior of our soul. In every room, she walks us through to every corner to make sure we see all of us, every dark corner, to expose it to the light of God and live renewed and in HIM. Her mantra was “to live in constant presence and perfect union with God” at all times. She would pray the “Come Holy Spirit Come, fill the hearts of thy faithful, enkindle us with the fire of your love” prayer in Spanish every day and during one of these moments of intimate prayer, she said that her heart was inflamed by God’s love. She was different from that moment forward. She walked in and through God, she loved in and through God, and she changed the world by making His love visible through a tangible union of body and soul in action. When she died, the doctors actually found a burn liaison on her heart… as if her heart was inflamed by God! I want to make God’s love visible through my life!
My personal prayer: “God, take over. Give me the courage to surrender my will to your divine will.”
Then, we have St. John the Evangelist, who wrote the Book of John in the Bible. He wrote with passion to convey the love of Christ, in such a way that it was almost romantic in nature. Through the 4th gospel according to John, we, the reader, could experience the love and be part of this incredible love story that is written anew every day within us. It is timeless, beyond comprehension, and resonates truth at a soul level.
I pray that when we write, we invoke St. John the Evangelist so that my writings will be permeated with knowledge of God, so that others will be converted, healed, and have a deep desire to evangelize. Yes, God, give me the courage to write with passion, conviction, and truth!
St. Ignatius Loyola teaches us the life-transforming practice of prayer. Wake up and spend the first moments of our day with God. Invite Him into your life and ask Him to personally show us what we are called to do that very day. Then, throughout the day, examine moments where God was present. And at the end of the day, do the examination of consciousness. Look at your day through God’s eyes; is there a reaction that we had or a response to an event that was not in alignment with our highest self? If yes, simply look at it, ask for forgiveness, and ask for God to rewrite it. As we wake up the next morning, we ask that we live changed. That is a GOD practice that was poured through St. Ignatius Loyola and onto paper, as the guide called “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.” Originally, these exercises were made for priests and nuns to grow closer to God in their daily life. The exercises were inspired through St. Ignatius Loyola after he was wounded in the war and had to lay still for 6 months. He asked for books to read, mainly for comics, and the nurse handed him the Holy Bible. That was the last thing he wanted, yet out of pure boredom, he began to read the life-changing WORD. He emerged 6 months later, asked to become a priest, and shared his newfound spiritual exercises with the world. The Pope assigned him to live in the caves as a quiet hermit for 4 years to solidify the teachings through the will of GOD. St. Ignatius Loyola did just that. He spent four years in silent prayer and received downloads from God about each step of the spiritual exercises. His teachings began to transform the lives of the religious, and soon, began to pour over to those who wanted to experience a deeper love for Christ. They are available today in guided settings of a 30-day silent retreat and/or a 9-month guided course of daily prayers, weekly spiritual direction, and monthly community meetings.
I chose the 9-month route, and my encounter with God and our Triune God has been profound, I pray that this practice becomes habit.
All of these saints remind me that IT CAN BE DONE—because it has been done before—and these guys and gals were real people, just like you and me! They figured out how to live this physical life with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth, being in divine union with Christ always and allowing the GOD WITHIN US to be who we are! Wow, just think of that… we are ALL aspects of GOD and He can only be fully alive when we are fully alive within HIM and HIM in us. Let us start right now. Let’s become who we are. We are made in HIS image. In the words of CHRIST himself, “I have come to show you what you are… you will go on to do greater things than I.” Are we brave enough to be that big? YES, we are all called to be the saints of the new millennium. We just need to become who we are, and we will set the whole world on fire! Christ has already won the victory for us. All this chaos in the world right now is simply a gentle push to step in fully and be the beacons of light that we are! We are alive right now for a reason. We are called to anchor in the love and light of Christ right now. In the words of St. Louis de Montfort, “The second coming of Christ will not be a baby in a manger born to one woman, but rather he will be born anew in everyone, everywhere.” I SAY, “YES!” Join me in the new LIGHT OF THE WORLD! Our God is a god of miracles! AMEN. And so it is, I trust. I AM.