Gratefully, as a faithful follower of the Catholic faith, I never have to visit the Wizard to get myself a good healthy dose of courage. The Holy Spirit is the only great and mighty power I need to be filled with the grace that enables me to carry out even the most difficult of tasks.
Courage is often defined as not the absence of fear, but making the right choice in spite of being afraid. The Gift of Courage can be called upon when tested with situations we dread or with experiences that cause us great anxiety at the very thought of accomplishing them. Remember how it felt in High School to have to stand in front of the class and give an oral presentation? There was always someone who would point out that some survey once proved that more people were afraid of public speaking than of dying. As an aside, attempting to picture the audience in their underwear never helped assuage my nerves!
In Pope Francis, May 14th Audience, he discusses this gift of fortitude (courage), “with the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit frees the soil of our heart from torpor [inactivity], uncertainties and all the fears that can stop it, so that the Word of God can be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful way. This is a real help, this gift of fortitude it gives us strength and frees us from many obstacles.” What obstacles are keeping you from sharing or defending the Catholic faith?
Some of the obstacles we face can come when trying to share our faith with relatives and friends, especially if we have had a conversion or ‘reversion’, and they are used to us thinking, behaving and speaking another way. Another area that can be difficult is witnessing to our Catholic faith on social media. Personally, I was fearful of being attacked online for my beliefs. I was nervous to post or share something, for fear I would be torn to pieces by a Facebook friend, Twitter follower or the dreaded “troll”. To which some may say, well limit your ‘friends’ or target what you post to a friendly audience. Perhaps that is a solution, but it is certainly not boldly proclaiming the Good News, nor a testament to trusting the grace inherent in the gift of courage.
"As I said we must have fortitude in our everyday life as Christians we need this fortitude to carry on in our lives, our families our faith. Paul, the Apostle Paul, said something that it would do us all good to hear: "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me" (Phil. 4:13) ~ Pope Francis
Anytime we interact on a public forum, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google, we open ourselves to the opinion of others. We may find ourselves faced with posts that infuriate us for some reason or another. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat staring at my screen with my finger hovering over the ‘enter’ key with a fired up response to something posted on social media. I have to really PRAY to know when to push send and when to hit delete. I certainly do not wish to deny Jesus (or the teachings of my faith), nor do I not desire to push people further away from finding Him either. I also do not wish to fight ineffective battles, as can occur with online comment for comment or post for post arguments. I do not feel I am going to change anyone’s opinion by engaging them in a word war, instead I will move the discussion to a private message where we can continue to discuss the matter if they choose, without incite riots or fueling more misconceptions or misinformation that can emerge from these type of online conversations.
Sometimes, the answer is to hit enter and defend the faith, or at the very least, hope you are offering another side of the issue for others to peacefully consider. Hitting ‘send’ takes not only the Gift of Courage, but in most instances, relies on the Gift of Prudence and Wisdom, as well.
We are called to joyfully serve the Lord, and there are so many ways social media can allow us to do this – by utilizing all the gifts of the Holy Spirit there are no limits to how we can do that. Here are some examples of how social media can be used to share the faith. I would love to hear some of the ways you are using today's media to witness online.
• We can use Facebook or Twitter to ask if anyone would like to be prayed for.
• “Sharing is Caring” – share, retweet, post or forward quality Catholic content.
• Offer to moderate the Parish FB page or help with the Parish website.
• Read and review Catholic books or blogs.
• Create a Catholic Pinterest board.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
I believe if we prayerfully approach social media, despite our fears, if we trust God’s grace working within us, we will find a variety of ways we can be Ambassadors for Christ.
Read other posts in Allison's Social Media and Gifts of the Spirit series.
Copyright 2014, Allison Gingras
About the Author
Allison Gingras created the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV), including "The Gift of Invitation" and "Seeking Peace: A Spiritual Journey from Worry to Trust." Her ministry focuses on the grace of prayer, Scripture, and sacrament. Allison is the national WINE Steward for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization and hosts A Seeking Heart podcast.