Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Take Courage















One of my favorite gospel passages is that of the interaction between Christ and the hemorrhagic woman who touched his cloak in a crowd. Sensing that some power had escaped from his body, he questions who it is that has touched him and bravely coming into his view, she admits her action. Seeing her great faith he speaks to her: "Daughter take courage; your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22)

Take courage
, he says. And this daughter wonders, how exactly does a person take courage? For me, a chronic worrier and perfectionist, one who lives with constant fear and anxiety, nothing sounds more appealing than hearing Christ speak to me and say, "Daughter, take courage." But that courage escapes me, and I am left to shake in my shoes and wonder exactly how it is that I am able to make it through the tasks of each day without crumbling into a million pieces.

The temperature spikes and tempers flare, bills pile up with no end in sight, worries about tomorrow fill my mind and there seems to be no escape, no recourse for my troubles. The consolations of God seem far distant, the comfort offered by friends can't seem to sustain me and although I kneel in prayer fingering the beads, words of prayer don't burst forth from my heart. It's hard to believe that God cares, that he knows the burdens I carry and wants to relieve me of my distress. Spiritual reading tells me how blessed I am to suffer, for in my suffering I assist Christ in His passion and relieve the torment he endures from the sins of many. But still...still...I need relief that doesn't come from reading about the saints. I recognize that I am far from the holiness to which I aspire; I am not yet a saint, and most likely will never become one.

Yet again, in recent days, He speaks those words in Holy Scripture:

"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33

So I kneel down in the pew each day, head bent low, offering Him my fear and weakness, my impatience and short temper and I open my hands to receive His Body and Blood. And it is here, here in the gift of Eucharist, that I receive the courage which carries me through into the unknown of each day. This is it, the answer to my questions, the solution to my worries, His gift to me...I give Him my all, my entire nothingness and in return He gives me His everything from which I draw just enough courage to carry me through until the next time my Lord and I meet in the most intimate connection ever known. I ingest His Body and He innervates my entire being with His courage-producing presence.

And he speaks to me, "Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid." (Matthew 14:27)

So I go in peace to courageously enter into life in His service for just one more day, each and every day of my life.

6 comments:

  1. A very timely post for me, Anne, thank you. I keep telling myself the reason we have all these trials on earth is because Heaven is so wonderful that God cannot bear the thought of us missing it.

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  2. I have felt this way very often myself.Your beautiful words, where you say you open your hands to receive His Body and Blood, this is our courage and our hope.

    You have said this so beautifully.

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  3. Anne,
    So many times I read your posts and smile because you are so much like me in many ways as far as worrying and stuff like that. And of course you'll be a saint - that's your only option :) God bless you my friend!

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  4. Anne,
    Thank you for encouraging us. I have temper problems too, and I know how frustrating that is to have the internal contradiction of knowing the grace, peace, love, and presence of God in my soul, but not having made it through my own conquering of impatience, lack of charity, prudence, etc. to have my behavior more fully reflect the Lord to those around me.

    Two things I would add to further encourage you:
    First from St. Therese's prayer "Offering to Merciful Love":
    (Jesus) told us in the days of His mortal life: "Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to you!" I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul.

    Second from Luke 7:
    13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."

    Hang in there sister. I put my trust in knowing that I (as you) have Our All-loving, Omnipotent God, especially in the real presence you so beautifully receive each day, and in the transforming presence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the love of the Father who spared not his beloved Son, and the love and guidance of Mary to make me a saint despite my continued weaknesses and imperfections.

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  5. That will be my prayer this week. Take courage. I needed that reminder. Thanks Anne. God bless.

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  6. This was such a reflective line -

    "I give Him my all, my entire nothingness and in return He gives me His everything "

    I feel the same way about my relationship with Him.

    God Bless.

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