The Rule, Article 4

Saturday, May 15, 2010

JOHN PAUL II - An appeal for courage and fortitude

The following is taken from the Address of His Holiness John Paul II During the Public Consistory, 30 June 1979.  While he was addressing the new Cardinals, the message is timeless and could have been written for each of us as Secular Franciscans.  Our beloved Francis is a true example of the courage, fortitude and humility of which His holiness John Paul II speaks. 

The word of God ....contains in itself an appeal for courage and fortitude. In a significant way Christ invites us to courage and fortitude. We have heard him say repeatedly: "Do not be afraid"; "do not fear these who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Mt 10:28); "have no fear of men" (cf. Mt 10:26). And at the same time, side by side with these decisive appeals for courage and fortitude, there is the exhortation: "Have fear"; "rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt 10:28). These two appeals, seemingly opposed, are reciprocally so closely connected that one results from the other, one conditions the other. We are called to fortitude and at the same time to fear. We are called to fortitude before men and, at the same time, to fear before God himself; and this fear must be the fear of love, filial fear. And only when this fear penetrates into our hearts can we be truly strong with the fortitude of the Apostles, martyrs, and confessors......

Christ asks us above all to have this fortitude to confess before men, his truth and his cause, without counting whether these people will be favourable or not to this cause, whether they will open their ears and hearts to this truth, or whether they will close them so as not to be able to hear. We cannot be discouraged before any programme in which the ears and the intellect are closed. We must make our confession and proclamation in deepest obedience to the Spirit of Truth. He himself will find the ways to reach the depths of consciences and of hearts. We must rather make our confession and render witness with such strength and ability that responsibility does not fall on us for the fact that our generation has denied Christ before men. We must also be "wary as serpents, innocent as doves" (Mt 10:16).

And finally we must be humble, with that humility of interior truth that permits man to live with magnanimity. Because "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). This magnanimity, evolving from humility, evolving from cooperation with the grace of God, is a particular sign of our service in the Church.

1 comment:

brother Joseph, SFO said...

What a powerful message! The reality of God - both His love for us and our obligation of loving obedience to Him - overshadows what men think, want have decided. What gave our father John Paul such power was that he lived these words. His whole life was focused on loving and serving God and, in love for God, loving everyone else. He didn't seek the love of others for himself but only for God. His goodness baffled the unbelieving world for truly, John Paul was 'other worldly' - did not belong to this world but was already, while in this world, a citizen of the heavenly Kingdom of God. His life and his love showed the world that there truly is something beyond - God exists. A translation of the phrase 'fear of God' is 'great reverence/appreciation for God'. When we have perfect knowledge of God (who IS love) then there will be no fear for 'perfect love casts out all fear'. This is truly something only the saints have experienced - having fully given themselves to God. God bless you brothers and sisters of KC!