What is courage? Etymologically it comes from Cor (Latin) Corage (French) Cardiac (Greek) =Heart. Instinctively we know that courage is worthy of praise and admiration. On the morning of 25 October 1415, shortly before the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V made a brief speech to the English army under his command and hence coined the St. Crispian’s Speech found in Shakespeare’s work, Henry V. His words in the play stoke the heart with power:
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Those wounds are trophies to courageous hearts that leap from one’s chest as they met their enemy. You may recall Henry Fleming’s interior struggle with his act of cowardice in Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Slumped under oppressing guilt and shame, Henry returned to a column of marching wounded soldiers. Weak and wounded, the question from an old limping soldier cut Henry like a razor sharp bayonet, “Where are your wounds?”
Courage is on the run today because it can’t share the stage with egotism, selfishness and obsessive-compulsive drive for pleasure and comfort while craving success without the least effort to sow those seeds. Selfishness shrinks the heart; courage comes from an expanding heart. Courage doesn’t mean one doesn’t have fear, but that one acts despite fear. Courage and magnanimity are two wings which impel one to love deeply and without flinching.
There is nothing like meditating upon life’s brevity and eternity to stoke courage in our lives. Take inspiration from the Regnum Christi Member Handbook #165: Given the brevity of life, Christians must feel the urgency of making the most of the time God has given us. Therefore, a member of the Movement has no room for attitudes of indolence, idleness or sloth. There is no room either for sterile inactivity. Like St. Paul, we forget what we have left behind and strain forward, running to the finish line so as to win the reward to which God calls us from on high.
An outstanding Biblical example of courage, a woman who knew that life on earth was so brief in comparison to eternity is found in 2 Maccabees 7:1-39 titled: Martyrdom of a Mother and her Seven Sons.
Contemporary stories of courage abound. Gianna Jessen and Melissa Ohden for example recently testified before a congressional subcommittee about their survival from an abortion attempt by their own mothers. They are proclaiming this from the roof tops to change culture in spite ruthless opposition. I know a courageous Regnum Christi woman from Houston, who like many other moms, embraced her Down syndrome baby boy a year ago and named him Michael, after the Legionary that walked with her and her husband and kids during this tough life experience. Michael is a source of blessing and love for them.