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Posted March 9, 2011

The Starting point of courage

According to theologian, Romano Guardini

Taken from the book, The Promise of Virtue by Eugene Hemrick, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN.

Where is the first place to begin to develop the needed courage we speak of?

Romano Guardini tells us to begin with ourselves.

“Let us begin with the main point which determines everything else, and which is most difficult to realize. I mean the courage to accept one’s own existence. Our earliest existence is a tissue of good and bad, joyful and sorrowful, of things that assist and support us and also of those that hinder and burden us. Courage means the ability not only to select what pleases us or makes life easy, but also to accept the whole as it is, in the confidence that it reveals the providence of God.”

In pointing us to ourselves, Guardini shows us that we need to accept who we are. As Christ taught us to love and courageously defend our neighbors, we must first love ourselves.

There is great difficulty in this because we tend not to appreciate our own goodness. Some of us don’t like our appearance; either we are too tall or too short, too fat or too thin, have gray hair or no hair. Some of us feel we aren’t intellectually gifted or morally strong. And then there are some who won’t accept impending old age and the thought of mortality. This list of warts we can find is endless.

Our social environment doesn’t help us in this matter. More often than not the people it holds us as models are ageless and flawless, which makes us all the more discontent with ourselves.

Knowing this to be true, courage would elbow us and say, “No one is without shortcomings and defects. Take what has been given to you, run with it, and don’t let it break your spirit!” Jokingly it reminds us, “Your shortcomings, like everyone else’s, go with the territory.” And in a more serious tone it says, “Look more closely at what God has given you because there are beauty and goodness there that are unmistakably in you. The more fully you grasp this, the stronger will be your fighting spirit. You must love yourself first before you can courageously serve your neighbor!”