Courage sustains us whenever it is difficult to do the right thing, to speak the truth, to take an unpopular position. The difficulty arises when popular thinking and strong political and economic forces make it risky for the individual to speak and act properly.
It can be so risky that sometimes a “devil’s advocate” or a “court jester” has to be appointed to proclaim the unpopular truth.
Jesus courageously criticized what the powerful of his time taught and how they acted. Many have imitated him. And some, like St. Oscar Romero, were doubly courageous: first, he admitted that he had been wrong and changed his ways; and then he vigorously opposed the regime that was oppressing the poor.
It took courage for Jean Vanier, a doctor of philosophy and university professor, to choose to live with mentally disadvantaged people. He found the freedom to choose what’s good or better, despite the risk of criticism and ostracism.
Vanier always radiated joy and hope. These two words begin one of the Church’s most important documents of modern times: Gaudium et Spes. Let this shape who we are: I will be joyful, I will be hopeful, and therefore I can go fully and freely to where courage takes me.
Written for the Hungarian Jesuit magazine JurajKrivosik.