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Courage in the face of fear

July 11, 2020
By Shelly Fellin

Courage in the face of fear.

I’ve been challenged recently with opportunities to choose courage over fear.

During these challenging times we are presented with opportunities to choose how we handle all the turmoil in the world. This pandemic is very real for all of us. And the unrest that we witnessed a few weeks ago add to our stress and anxiety. We see it every day on our social media news feed. It’s on the nightly news. Schools were closed this spring and we’re not sure if they will open this fall. We were ordered to stay home for our own health and to ‘flatten the curve’. Even our long treasured parish events have been canceled as a precaution to prevent more people from getting the virus. There is no escaping it. So how do we overcome the fear of all of this craziness that surrounds us?

Prayer has been my saving grace for a number of years and it has continued to be my source of solace during this turbulent time. It is through prayer that I hear God speak to me. It is through prayer that He will give me the peace and dare I say “courage” to face my daily challenges. It is through prayer that I find the courage I need to overcome my fears. When I overcome my fears I find the peace that only Jesus can give.

The Catechism states that “Fortitude (courage) is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good… [It] enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause.” [CCC 1808] To have fortitude is to be courageous in doing what is right despite the fear of failure, judgement and condemnation.

Courage is one of those spiritual muscles that we must “exercise” or work at, in order to grow. How do you overcome your fears? What obstacles are you facing these days that prevents you from overcoming your fears? In my last posting I reflected on faith and how important it is to trust in God’s love for us. Courage enables us to share our faith. Courage enables us to step out in faith and do what may be difficult to do.

Throughout the year in our liturgical calendar we celebrate the lives of our many Saints. Some of these Saints are remembered because of their martyrdom, their “supreme witness given to the truth of the faith…even to the point of death.” It is through an extreme act of fortitude that one becomes a martyr. On July 6th we celebrated the memorial of St. Maria Goretti, who fought off her attacker but later died from her wounds. July 9th is the memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companion, Chinese martyrs who shared the Good News of Jesus Christ and was persecuted and later died for it.

The courage that these saint exhibited, no matter how extraordinary, is far more extreme than I could ever hope to have. Yet I strive every day to face my fears of persecution from my enemy, to face my fear of failure, to face my fear of opposition. I must stretch my spiritual muscle and find the courage to face my fears each day. Jesus tells us “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” John16:33