Recap of Holy Daring: Fearless Trust in the Public Square:
Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine recently sponsored an incredible talk given by Dr. Bill Thierfelder, President of Belmont Abbey College (www.bac.edu) at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Roswell, GA. Dr. Thierfelder focused his remarks on patriotism and courage in public life (in business, sports, education and our communities). He provided the answers to these key questions:
- What does it mean to be a Catholic in America?
- What is our duty and responsibility to God and country?
The title of his talk was taken from a book by John Udris entitled Holy Daring: The Fearless Trust of St. Therese of Lisieux. The author highlights her bold confidence in the power of God’s love and the courage to put that trust into action in her daily life even to the moment of her death.
Dr. Thierfelder began the talk by asking for “…the intercession of this great saint and doctor of the church whose feast day we just celebrated on Oct 1st, may we begin to study, understand and practice the virtues of holy daring which is courage / fortitude and fearless trust which is confidence (con-fides, with faith) / faith. Then armed with supernatural courage and heroic trust, may we begin living the Gospel of life as a US citizen in the public square which is patriotism.” He challenged the participants to be ready at the end of the evening to say with St. Therese: “I feel within me a holy daring being born.”
Dr. Thierfelder set up his talk in three parts:
1. Holy Daring - Courage/Fortitude
2. Fearless Trust - Confidence/Faith
3. In the Public Square - Patriotism/Justice
Since Faith precedes Courage, Dr. Thierfelder started with the concept of Fearless Trust by recommending a book titled Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret to Peace and Happiness by Father Jean Baptiste Saint Jure, SJ and Saint Claude De La Columbiere, SJ.
- On page 24, Job said: “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
- “Note,” observes St. Augustine, “Job does not say, ‘The Lord gave and the devil hath taken away’ but says, wise that he is, “The Lord gave me my children and my possessions, and it is He who has taken them away; it has been done as it pleased the Lord.”
- (p.98) In our ignorance of what the future holds how can we be so bold as to question what comes about by God’s permission? Surely it is reasonable to think that our complaints are groundless and that instead of complaining we ought to be thanking Providence. (gratitude)
- “Are we thankful in all things?”
- “In order to be thankful in all things we must recognize God’s will. I strongly recommend reading He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek. This book is about recognizing the perfection of the present moment. (All the Saints and Church Fathers agree!)”
- “In each moment God is present to us. Sometimes He is easier to see than at other times but He is always here with us.”
- “In recognizing God in each moment our trust will grow and deepen and become absolute.”
Total Trust/Faith is the foundation for Courage/Fortitude (Holy Daring)
- “Needed when facing some type of danger, moral or physical.”
- “Courage is firm resolve, an absolute conviction, faith in action perseverant even unto death.”
- “moral courage” is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition.
- “But this courage is not just for famous saints, you and I are called to it each day.”
- “The best way to study virtue is when you witness it in someone else. Another word for ‘witness’ is Martyr. Someone who makes the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his or her life for neighbor and for the Truth.”
Here are a few good examples of saints to see virtuous living in action:
- St. Thomas More – divine office, three times a day, fasting, pennance
- St. John Fisher – only Bishop, prayer and fasting strength -
- St. Joan of Arc (17 years old who in one year ends the 100 year war and removes England from France and sets the dauphin on the thrown as King. Mark Twain, an atheist, said she was the greatest human being who ever lived)
Trust and Courage enable us to be Patriots
Archbishop Burke (emeritus of Saint Louis) is the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. At the 2009 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Keynote Address he said:
“Today more than ever, our nation is in need of Catholics who know their faith deeply and express their faith, with integrity, by their daily living.”
Dr. Thierfelder continued:
- “Surely, the most fundamental expression of patriotism is daily prayer for our homeland, the United States of America, her citizens and her leaders.”
- “Our encounter with the world must be clear and uncompromising. In a culture marked by widespread and grave confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the moral law, our Catholic schools and universities must be beacons of truth and right conduct.”
- As Catholics we can never cease to work for the correction of gravely unjust laws. Law is a fundamental expression of our culture and implicitly teaches citizens what is morally acceptable. We are never justified in abandoning the work of changing legislation and of reversing decisions of the courts which are anti-life and anti-family.
So what does this mean to us?
Politics (public square) – Archbishop Chaput Render unto Caesar: “We need to raise up a new kind of genius, a generation of saints, through our prayer and zeal, through our personal witness, through our faithful devotion to the sacraments.”
A practical program of daily living is laid out for us by Blessed John Henry Newman:
“If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say first:
- Do not lie in bed beyond the time of rising,
- Give your first thoughts to God,
- Make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament,
- Say the Angelus devoutly,
- Eat and drink to God’s glory,
- Say the Rosary well,
- Be recollected (silent),
- Keep out bad thoughts,
- Make your evening meditation well,
- Examen yourself daily,
- Go to bed in good time,
- And you are already perfect.”
“Which of these can’t you do? None! All can be done easily each day. It is a matter of “will”. Will you do it each day? You’re thinking it has to be more complicated or sophisticated than that. There must be a magic formula, there must be someone else who will do it, take care of it for me No! You and I are called to do it and this recipe by Bl. John Henry Newman is the answer.”
Archbishop Chaput in Render unto Caesar continues, “The final lines of Leon Bloy’s classic novel, The Woman Who Was Poor, should burn in the heart of every serious believer: “There is only one misery and that is-not to be saints.” This is exactly the fire we need to set ablaze in our own lives and in the lives of Catholics across the United States.”
Read Dr. Bill Thierfelder’s Biography