True courage

I just finished reading a beautiful book on prayer, Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden, by Dr. Anthony Lilles.  I liked his take on the difference between bravery and courage:

True humility attracts God.  Humility regulates how we esteem ourselves.  The word humility itself derives from the Latin humus which means rich fertile soil.  This suggests the great primordial truth of our origins.

Man was fashioned from the dust of the earth, and at the end of his days, he returns to it.  God breathed his life into mud and made it capable of doing something divine.  Life is a very fragile gift lavished upon us when we have done nothing to deserve it.  We have only a very brief time to make of it something beautiful for God.  God is attracted to souls that ground their lives in this truth.  Such humility permits Him to accomplish great things.

A particular kind of courage needs to go with such humility: the courage to accept ourselves, including our weaknesses.  Romano Guardini distinguishes this sort of courage from bravery.  Bravery confronts things that threaten us from without.  Courage, from this perspective, helps us confront what is within us.  This is not the same as excusing our own sinfulness.  It is a matter of humbly accepting the truth about ourselves, courageously acknowledging we need God’s help.

(Anthony Lilles, Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden)

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