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What is courage?

Coeur is the French word for heart. When we speak of courage, then, we are speaking about strength of heart; we are speaking about being stouthearted in the face of fear, in the face of imminent loss.

Who among us has not admired people who have been courageous in battle, or courageous in the face of physical illnesses or disabilities… in the face of the loss of their children, their parents, or these days in the face of the loss of their homes? Folks we know have lost their businesses, the loss of their jobs, and the loss of their savings. We can’t help but admire them. So many of our heroes are saints who, with great courage, have suffered martyrdom.

We live in a time of losses, losses of so many kinds. When you stop and think about it, much of life is dealing with loss. Courage is not all that exceptional. It is found in the lives of most of us.

It’s difficult for me to understand how those of no faith can face with courage the losses inflicted on them these days. At the same time, it seems to me that our Christian faith in God and in Jesus Christ who took on our human condition, is a wonderful power that equips us with tremendous courage to face down all that life can throw at us.

As Christians, we need also to have moral courage, the courage to stand up for life and for all that is decent and right in the face of the moral collapse we so often encounter in the culture that surrounds us.

Courage, it seems to me, isn’t something that’s simply “nice.” We need moral courage in the face of those who would criticize us for holding dear what we so value. Courage is not simply an admirable virtue. Courage is a necessity. Without it, what would we be? Perhaps that’s why we have a crucifix hanging in our churches. It reminds us of who we are and all that we can be.