dis·cour·age·ment / dis ‘kərijmənt / noun: to deprive of courage or confidence.
cour·age / kərij / noun: the ability to control fear and to be willing to deal with something that is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant.
I was trying to find the Latin etymology of discouragement, but was only taken back to the mid-15th century French. From what little Latin I remember from seminary, the root of courage is “cor” which is “heart.” “Dis” means to “take away.” Think about that for a moment. What happens physiologically if you take away the heart muscle’s ability to do its job? What happens when the heart muscle is not strong and efficient?
If I’m reading the tea leaves of society today, I sense plenty of discouragement. I hear it from others. I see it on all forms of social media. I feel it within myself. There is so much present in our world today that can lead us to discouragement. If we mostly focus on the troubles, tragedies, pending disasters, disunity and anger in our world today—much of which we cannot personally affect—we’ll no doubt be filled with discouragement. We will indeed be deprived of confidence and hope. We will have our hearts stolen from us.
When I was on my 30-day Ignatian retreat a number of years ago, the retreat director told me, “Discouragement is almost always from the evil one. The devil loves to steal our heart—which is meant for God.” That was so very helpful for me as I struggled with discerning God’s will in my life at that time, and as I continue to deal with core wounds that kept (and keep) me from truly being free as a child of God.
One of the sweetest fruits of that retreat was a greater surrender to the mystery of God’s will, of letting go more and more of the wounds of my heart and allowing Jesus, the divine physician, to heal me. This is truly a work in progress. I feel as if I am in continual heart rehab, and that’s okay.
en·cour·age·ment / in ‘kərijmənt, en ‘kərijmənt / noun: The action of giving someone support, confidence and hope.
Again, my feeble Latin reminds me that “en” means “in” or “into.”
Hence, encouragement is to pour into the heart, to strengthen the heart, to give the heart what it needs, to allow the life-giving blood and oxygen that feeds the heart muscle which then pushes the blood throughout the body bringing oxygen, nutrients, etc. and taking away those impurities that keep us from health.
How important it is to focus more and more on that which encourages us!
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:18–19).
“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
“Never let evil talk pass your lips: say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you have been sealed against the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander and malice of every kind. In place of these be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:29 – 32).
So, as we enter into this new month and begin a new school year, let us be people of encouragement. Let us pour God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, hope, joy and peace into people’s hearts—beginning with our own. Allow the Lord Jesus to pour into your heart as you spend time in quiet prayer with him. This is essential. This is not an add-on. If you want peace, you must go to Jesus in prayer. There is no other way.
Then, pour that into your spouse. Fill the other with that which Jesus has filled you. Then, both of you pour into your children over and over again. Give to them the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been poured into your hearts through Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation and your Sacrament of Matrimony. Then, pour encouragement into others: other family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates.
Pour encouragement into the checker when you are buying groceries, the wait-person when you’re having dinner, the person in front of you in line and the person who asks for money on the street corner. Simple words of encouragement may be exactly what they need.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
Parish retreat – Stewardship and the family, the domestic Church
I hope that you can join us for our parish retreat this Saturday, September 11, from 9am–3pm. It will be focused on building a culture of discipleship and stewardship in your home. We begin with Mass followed by a short breakfast snack.
The retreat will continue with a presentation, some time for prayer and small group discussion. Lunch will be provided and then there will be two presentations in the afternoon. Please RSVP on the parish website or call the parish office. Unfortunately we are unable to provide childcare at this time for this event. Hopefully you may be able to make some accommodations to be able to be present. If not, the mission will be live streamed on our parish YouTube channel. We hope that this will be an event that will truly encourage you in your life of faith.
In Christ, through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio, I love you.