Courage and gentleness

In the Society we have a tradition, on this feast, of drawing pieces of paper with the Spirit's gifts and fruits written on them, to see which ones have been given to us to accompany us throughout the coming year. This year for my gift I drew COURAGE and for my fruit, GENTLENESS. Each, in their own way, is something I very much need now and in the time ahead, with all the changes and challenges it will bring.

I especially like the fact that the word courage derives from the Old French word for heart: so the Spirit's gift to me is heart - something dear to any Religious of the Sacred Heart! And within that a call to "take heart", as we often say to those needing courage, which for me is a call to take all the strength that Jesus offers me in and through his Heart.

I'm also thinking of a reflection I read only yesterday, in which the author wrote:

Maybe courage is really the invitation from Jesus to have a big heart. Could it be that Jesus just wants me to live the way he lives - with love and compassion for others - and be unafraid when it comes to speaking up for the poor?

And that, of course, brings me to gentleness, the fruit of all this strengthening and taking heart - and the call to be gentle with others, as well as with myself. And with this combination I feel as though I've been given both sides of the Spirit: the fiery, burning strength of courage, combined with the gentleness of a dove. May they both be with and in me, filling my inmost being, enabling me to be a woman with a big, open heart.

Happy Feast everybody - and may the Spirit bestow on you the gifts and fruits you most need at this time!