My friend and mentor, Sister Alexa Suelzer, S.P., once wished the gift of courage for me. We were saying good-bye after a little visit and she said that she prayed for me to have the courage to do all that I am capable of doing. I’ve thought a lot about this since and now realize the importance of her prayer.
No doubt, the founder of Sister Alexa’s community, Saint Theodora, was a courageous woman. Saint Theodora ventured far beyond her comfort zone when she left family, friends, and country in poor health to journey to the unknown American wilderness. She encouraged women in general and in particular, members of her community, to develop and pursue their God-given talents. She confronted prejudice and bigotry on many occasions. Massive fires, poverty, language and cultural barriers, separation from loved ones, and challenging lawmakers and coworkers were major obstacles in her path but never roadblocks. With courage she kept going, working and building a foundation of faith.
On one occasion Saint Theodora was physically and emotionally exhausted but knew she must continue. In a letter to Sister Basilide on February 17, 1855 she wrote, “I am truly tired, but I believe that I shall rest only in heaven, God giving me the grace to get there.”
It takes courage to enforce house rules with a teenager you may fear won’t love you if you do not give them their way. It takes courage to defend a co-worker who is being “thrown under the bus.” It takes courage to admit our failings to strangers and more so to a spouse. It takes courage to step into yet another job interview after a long period of unemployment. Sometimes it takes courage just to get out of bed in the morning.
Fear limits courage. Throughout Scripture we are instructed not to be afraid. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.”(Psalm 27). Jesus repeated this message throughout his ministry.
I wish you the courage to defend what is holy, to do and say what you know in your heart is right, and to remember that God is with you. In these challenging times, lean on Providence, as Saint Theodora said, and you will find yourself well supported.
©Mary K. Doyle