Beep…. scan... beep... scan... beep…
While scanning items at the supermarket recently, my butterfly brain gently floated off into into an imagination haze (for those of you that know me - please stop laughing out loud now). Seriously though, I found myself wondering - if I could buy absolutely anything what would I buy? What would the world be like if I could buy courage like I buy a litre of almond milk? And what would you buy?
As we now mark 10 years since the canonisation of Mary MacKillop (17.10.2010), I constantly marvel at her courage. I also now wonder, where did she buy/get her courage?
Today I understand through her letters that courage was a quality she wrote about throughout her time on earth. In a letter she wrote to sisters in 1877 she describes the need for them to “take fresh courage” in times of struggle. She then goes on to explain that we must “lean more on Him (God) and less on ourselves”. It seems to me that her courage was produced from the relationship she had with her “good God” - through my imagination haze I’ve come to realise that God was her supermarket of sorts!
Her regular trips to the ’supermarket of God’ in prayer seemingly transformed her through the working of the Holy Spirit. Returning time and time again for nourishment, she was graced with fresh courage, nourished with truth and goodness. She reminds me that I need to keep returning to God like I keep returning to buy fresh produce; Apples only last for so long and they are always best when consumed fresh. As a wise priest once reminded me; “If you are green you will grow, if you are ripe you will rot.”
I imagine this is not only true for us as individuals but also for our communities. How different are our communities are when we keep returning to the spirit of God for fresh nourishment? Perhaps it’s true that the spirit is always transforming and always full of surprises… “We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.” ~ Evangelii Gaudium (8)
I have attempted to put her wisdom (“take fresh courage”) into visual form with two pieces. In the cartoon I visualise her moving forward. Even when she encountered bumps in the road, she hung on, trusting in the transforming presence of her good God… perhaps she was on her way to the supermarket? The COURAGE illustration (prayer card & poster) has a focus on her bold trusting heart/eyes, paired with the teal that links to the scarves that Sisters wore at the canonisation 10 years ago. Links to these images and all the resources are also listed below. I highly recommend the article by Sr Mary Cresp rsj and as well as all the SOSJ resources from the team based at North Sydney. We especially hope you will join us in prayer for the Courage Hour on October 16th.
After giving thanks for 10 years in October we then move as a community into November, remembering our family of canonised Saints (1st Nov) and the souls (2nd Nov) that have gone before us. Considering Saint Mary MacKillop’s journey, I am mindful that through the lives of all our saints (canonised or not), in times of struggle they too returned to the supermarket of God for nourishment. As Howard Thurman so eloquently highlights in his poem Our Little Lives: "We rejoice this day to say: Our little lives, our big problems—these we place upon Thy altar!"
Perhaps my beep… scan… beep… butterfly brain moment, the resources and some courageous words below from others may remind us that we are all invited to “take fresh courage". I’ll do my best to remember that produce is best fresh, the nourishment is available 24/7, there is no charge, no mask required and all are welcome...
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” ~ Psalm 62:8
“God is closer to us than the air we breathe.” ~ St. Dorothy Day
"To have courage for whatever comes in life, everything lies in that.” ~ St. Teresa of Avila
"The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them." ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
"Pray! Pray, but with faith – with living faith! Courage! Onward, ever onward!" ~ St. John Bosco
"Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be." ~ St. Augustine
"It’s precisely the people who are considered the least “likely” leaders who end up inspiring others the most. Everyday people and everyday acts of courage eventually change everything.” ~ Ai-Jen Po
"May we never forget the crippled, wind-beaten trees, how they, too, bud, green and bloom. May we, too, take courage to bloom where we are planted.” ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” ~ Thomas Merton
“Courage, courage, trust God who helps you in all things.” ~ St. Mary MacKillop
Much love and fresh courage
> Limited edition Courage Prayer Cards & Posters
> Free cartoons for Colouring In + View more Quote Illustrations of Saint Mary
> Free Screen graphics // Wallpapers for your phone + Virtual background images
> View all SOSJ Resources from the team at North Sydney
> Article by Sr Mary Cresp rsj - Take fresh courage - Share the hope
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Part of a letter Mary of the Cross MacKillop wrote to Sisters (21 May 1877)
"... But God understands us better than we understand ourselves or each other and He is merciful because He knows how weak we are, and though He may be sorry, He is not surprised at our falls. He wants us to take fresh courage - to lean more on Him and less on ourselves. He is pleased when we confess our weakness and when, like the poor prodigal, we return to our good Father's love. ..."
Jane Maisey rsj