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Courage

The virtue of courage and strength must accom­pa­ny patience. Only the one who has courage can tru­ly be patient in all things. To be coura­geous means sim­ply not to be afraid. Many times in the Gospels, Christ speaks of this virtue and com­mands it to His dis­ci­ples, In so doing, He fol­lows the Old Tes­ta­ment example.

The Lord is my light and my sal­va­tion, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27.1,14; Psalm 31:24)

Fear not, lit­tle flock, for it is your Father’s good plea­sure to give you the kingdom.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear; fear Him who, after He has killed, has the pow­er to cast into bell, yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:32,4–5)

In the world you will have tribu­la­tion, but take courage, I have over­come the world. (John 16:33)

The apos­tles were utter­ly coura­geous, and coun­seled all men to fol­low their example.

Be vig­i­lant, stand firm in your faith, be coura­geous, be strong. (I Corinthi­ans 16:13)

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you will be able to stand… (Eph­esians 6:10)

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…Take your share of suf­fer­ings as a good sol­dier of Christ Jesus. (2 Tim­o­thy 2:1–3; Cf Hebrews 11:32–38)

The virtue of courage is expressed not only in times of per­se­cu­tion and suf­fer­ing, but also in the face of ridicule and dis­dain. It is expressed as well sim­ply, in the, small­est, most com­mon things of every­day life. In Christ’s para­ble of the tal­ents, the man with lit­tle lost even the lit­tle that he had and was cast into out dark­ness because he failed to use his small gift through lack of courage: “and I was afraid and hid your tal­ent in the ground.” (Matthew 25:25–30) The per­son wit courage faces all things with strength and lives ever day, in every lit­tle thing, with the pow­er of Christ. To be “faith­ful in lit­tle” is a sign of great courage. The saints were emi­nent­ly coura­geous in their lives an con­sid­ered this virtue to be cen­tral in the spir­i­tu­al life.

Courage, accord­ing to Saint Gre­go­ry of Sinai, is the first of the “four orig­i­nal virtues,” one of the “four par­ent virtues which con­tain and con­sti­tute all oth­ers. (Saint Gre­go­ry of Sinai, 14th c., Instruc­tions to Hesychasts)

If you wish to make a right begin­ning in your spir­i­tu­al activ­i­ty, first pre­pare your­self for the temp­ta­tions that will befall you. For the dev­il has the habit of vis­it­ing with ter­ri­ble temp­ta­tions those whom he sees start­ing a right­eous life with ardent faith. (…) There­fore pre­pare your­self to meet coura­geous­ly the temp­ta­tions which will sure­ly assail you, and only then begin to prac­tice them. (Saint Isaac of Syr­ia, 6th c., Direc­tions on Spir­i­tu­al Train­ing)

If you pur­sue virtue… you are most like­ly to be attacked much by fear… such a per­son should make every effort to over­come cow­ardice, that daugh­ter of unbe­lief and that off­spring of vain-glory.

Cow­ardice is a child­ish dis­po­si­tion in a… vain-glo­ri­ous soul … a fail­ing away from faith that comes through expect­ing the unex­pect­ed… a rehears­ing of dan­ger before­hand in fear, a loss of conviction.

A proud soul is a slave of cow­ardice; it vain­ly trusts in itself and fears any shad­ow and sound of creatures.

… all cow­ard­ly peo­ple are vain­glo­ri­ous… and often have men­tal breakdowns…

He who has become the Lord’s ser­vant fears the Mas­ter alone, but he who does not yet fear Him is often afraid of his own shadow.

He who has con­quered cow­ardice has clear­ly ded­i­cat­ed his life and soul to God. (Saint John Cli­ma­cus, 7th c., The Lad­der of Divine Ascent, Step 21)