It was the morning I had set aside for writing my first article for Catholic.net. I had some thoughts about a topic, but I believed all would become clearer to me after attending morning Mass and visiting Christ in the Tabernacle. I wanted the Holy Spirit’s input! Truthfully, I was a bit nervous – the readership for my previous column was a secular audience in my small town. Over the span of 3 years, this had become comfortable and familiar.
I had also been prepared in two specific ways for this morning, though I was not aware of it on this specific day. First, there was a woman I had wanted to meet for years who jogged extensively in our neighborhood, in sun, rain, and snow. I had thought about interviewing her for my local column, but never stopped her to talk. Second, I recently heard about a very young girl who went on a Holy Week mission to encourage adults to return to the Church and the Sacraments. I will tell you about this girl first, as I weave the relevance of the two together.
The girl on the mission approached adults by merely asking what she could pray for on their behalf. People appreciated her kindness and, rather than being defensive, opened up and spoke with her. This girl demonstrated great courage. I remember that the next time I saw the jogger after hearing about this girl’s courage and kindness, I decided that I certainly could overcome my shyness about speaking to the jogger. I would finally meet her when the occasion was right.
Why was I shy about speaking to the jogging lady? It was because of what I wanted to ask her, with no idea of how she would respond. We Christians know that when we consider talking about faith with people unfamiliar to us, fear about the human reactions can deter us. Yet I thought, “The girl on the mission made a decision. She acted with courage.” So I decided I would act with courage, too.
I am no longer writing my local column and thus I couldn’t interview the jogger for it. However, with my decision and my key questions ready, I just needed the right moment. Meanwhile, my husband, knowing all of this, introduced himself to her, told me she was nice, and gave me her name.
On the morning planned for writing this article, I arrived home from Mass and there she was – the jogger – right at the end of our driveway. Today, of all days, was to be the day! I got out of the car, introduced myself, and offered her a glass of water. She accepted, as she had none with her at the moment. (I knew it was the point of no return – because of that decision!) “ May I ask you a question?” was my “great” approach. (I had several questions ready to ask). She indicated affirmatively. “What do you think about when you jog?” She answered that she just thinks about various things on her mind that day; personal things.
Then I asked IT: “Have you ever thought about praying while you are jogging?” I continued on, giving her about five examples of what one might pray for (e.g. prolife, religious liberty, souls who have died). And to my surprise (to putit mildly), she said that she thought that was a wonderful idea. She commented that she hadn’t thought about it before, AND she agreed with the prayer intentions. Wow! Can you believe that! (I couldn’t wait to tell my husband.) I prophetically exclaimed to her that I bet that there would really be a difference, though I wasn’t sure what form it would take. She said she would give me feedback.
After she left, I learned something greater. Yes, I had been led and inspired to encourage her to pray. But I realized how many hours through the years she might have devoted to prayer if I had acted upon the virtue of courage sooner. You see, it takes a decision to act. I finally made that decision.
From this experience, I've made a resolution: This week I will think about whom I have held back from being kind to –even because of the smallest fear of rejection–and I reach out to them. And you? How is God asking you to practice the virtue of courage in your daily life? Let's start together today!
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