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painting of still life with pussy willows

Insights on Courage

Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, George Bernard Shaw, Meister Eckhardt

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Teresa of Avila

God does not deny Himself to anyone who perseveres. Little by little, He will measure out the courage sufficient to attain this victory. I say “courage” because there are so many things the devil puts in the minds of beginners to prevent them from actually starting out on this path. For he knows the damage that will be done to him in losing not only that one soul but many others. If beginners, with the assistance of God, struggle to reach the summit of perfection, I believe they will never go to heaven alone; they will always lead many people along after them.

Teresa of Avila: The Book of Her Life, ed. Jodi Bilinkoff (Hackett, 2008).

Mother Teresa

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? By the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the Bridegroom will say, “I do not know you.” My sisters, what are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Daily Readings with Mother Teresa, ed. Teresa De Bertodano (HarperCollins, 1993).

George Bernard Shaw

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy. (Constable, 1903).

Meister Eckhart

As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants.… By all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God. Live as if you did not exist. Expect and ask nothing in return. Then the merchant inside you will be driven out of the temple God has made. Then God alone will dwell there. See! This is how the temple is cleared: when a person thinks only of God and honors him alone. Only such a person is free and genuine.

Meister Eckhart: Selections from His Essential Writings, ed. Emilie Griffin (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005).

painting of still life with pussy willows Taisia Afonina, Still Life with Pussy-Willows. Image from WikiArt (public domain)
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