By: Emily Gross
Courage (or fortitude) is one those virtues that I’ve never quite gotten into. I pictured it as one of those qualities only needed in dire circumstances, like for the martyrs of the Church. So comparatively, it seemed a little silly asking the Lord for courage when my life is pretty comfortable. But recently, I heard a quote from Father Mike Schmitz that shifted my perspective: “It’s easy to be good when it’s easy to be good. It’s easy to be just when it’s easy to be just. It’s easy to be prudent when it’s easy to be prudent. It’s easy to be honest when it’s easy to be honest. But it’s difficult to be good, or just, or prudent, or honest when it’s going to cost me something. And THAT is when I need courage.”
I’m going to be blunt here: when we choose God, that is the last thing the devil wants. And this isn’t recent news. The evil one has been showing his cards since Day 1 in the Garden of Eden when he slithered up to Adam and Eve and whispered lies in their ears. In that moment, it wasn’t easy. Temptation overruled virtue and the Fall of Man came to be. And yet, at the very place man did not have the courage to overcome temptation, God prevailed.
Thousands of years later, in a different garden, Jesus was faced with the most difficult task of his life: take on the weight of the world’s sin and accept a gruesome death on a cross. The devil slithered up, whispering lies in His ear. In that moment, it wasn’t easy. Jesus even said “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Except this time, virtue overruled temptation.
Where does the difference lie in these two scenarios? Instead of giving up when things got difficult, Jesus had courage. The Lord knows that those who follow him will be tempted by Satan to turn away. Sirach 2:1 even states, “My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” We know this even in our everyday, seemingly comfortable lives. As much as we WANT to follow Jesus, our flesh is fallen and sin occurs. So how do we get the courage to overcome? Well, He gives us a good clue when He speaks to his disciples later in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
So how do we apply this to our lives? The first step is to know what to watch out for. Like I said, the devil has a pretty repetitive game. He knows what it takes to tempt us away from God and, as long as it works, he will use it over and over and over again. If we reflect on the steps that often occur before sin, we can notice them earlier on. Once we notice we are being tempted, the second step is to call Satan out and pray for the grace to overcome. Pray for God’s power in that moment. And those two steps, my friends, are the key to courage.