I am deeply moved by the courage that Jeremiah and John the Baptist shared, even as they lived many hundreds of years apart.
The dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Through the lens of our faith, the Catechism describes that “fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. [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.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1808)
What witnesses to fortitude we have in these two great prophets! In today’s readings, both face death because of their faith to the Lord and His ways. (Jeremiah 26:12-15, Matthew 14:11) Though they suffered much, and were hated and misunderstood by many in the world, they remained steadfast and faithful to God.
It takes courage to live the Christian life. To live boldly, to love as the Lord calls us to love, and to speak in defense of Christ for the glory of the Kingdom—God, give us strength!
Certainly the Lord calls each of us on a unique journey with Him; we likely will not be asked to die for our faith. Instead, our faith may be challenged in a million smaller ways, and each of those moments matter to God, too. Do we have the fortitude to live and proclaim what we believe as Catholics, sisters?
May the Holy Spirit fill us with the courage to sincerely pray this prayer of Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney:
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally . . . .
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
On this Feast of Saint John Vianney, patron of priests, take a moment to call to mind the priests who have served and ministered to you over the years. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for their vocations, and pray for an outpouring of fortitude upon all priests in their ministry.
Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, vocal artist and teacher. She currently resides in New York City, though she will always be a Midwestern gal at heart. Elise has a heart for ministry, dark chocolate (but not too dark) and coffee with a generous amount of cream + sugar. Find out more about her here.