Monday, July 31, 2006

Walter J. Burghardt, S.J.

Theologian Walter J. Burghardt, S.J. celebrates his 75th anniversary as a Jesuit this year. He conceived the Preaching the Just Word program sponsored by the Woodstock Theological Center to assist priests and other ministers of the gospel to be more effective in preaching biblical and social justice. He reflects on courage here:
Some ask how I live with these life-altering changes in my vision and in my hearing. Yes, these seemed “bad” enough until cancer invaded my colon, melanoma nestled itself in my left shoulder, and basal cell carcinoma found the right side of my nose a comfortable cushion. I try to follow my own advice “Live this day,” albeit the only thing harder than commanding a physician to heal herself is persuading a preacher to heed the counsel of his own homilies!

There must be times, will be times, when you, too, are afraid -- afraid to love, afraid to give or forgive, afraid to cry out against injustice, afraid to face an incurable illness. Recognize a basic reality: Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling afraid to do something but finding the strength to do it. For courage, reach. Reach into your deepest self and dare to discover the surprise found by a woman living with cancer: “The more courage I used to get through the day, the more courage I had. The more I embraced life -- relationships, nature and the joys of every day -- the richer my life became.”

To learn more about the Preaching the Just Word Program, go here.