When you hear or see the word audacity, what thoughts come to mind? Maybe you think of someone with extraordinary courage, one who has chutzpah. Maybe you have a more negative connotation and think of one who is arrogant, brazen, or brash.
What if we paired it with the word holy — holy audacity? Does your impression of the word and behaviors associated with it now change?
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that the virtue of prudence is “right reason in action.” Prudence sets the boundaries for applying the other virtues in our lives, allowing them to be applied in appropriate measure. For example, fortitude helps us conquer fear. However, it would be foolish to disregard every danger. Prudence allows us to determine when to charge forward and when to live to fight another day.
I suggest the same principle applies with holy audacity. When aided by the grace of God, we are able to confess and proclaim faith in Jesus Christ in a manner where our audaciousness is applied in appropriate measure. In other words, we aren’t “all up in your grill” for Jesus. Rather, we are an imitation of Jesus.
Prior to the papal election process, I heard a journalist ask Timothy Cardinal Dolan what he was looking for in a new pope. Cardinal Dolan answered, “You always look for somebody that reminds you of Jesus. You look for somebody who just seems to radiate the love, the tenderness, the mercy, the truth of Jesus Christ.”
Isn’t that the call for all, whether we are pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, religious, deacon, or lay faithful? The virtue of holy audacity allows Christian boldness, the ability to confess and proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, and to radiate His love, tenderness, mercy, and truth. And holy audacity won’t always look the same. In some situations, we might think of a righteously angry Jesus turning over the tables in the temple. Other situations may invoke thoughts of how Jesus witnessed to the accusers of the woman caught in adultery. When they planned to stone her, Jesus simply knelt and wrote something in the ground and the accusers went away. Jesus challenged conventional wisdom, but always in ways appropriate to the situation.
Are you audacious? Could it stand to be paired with a little holiness? If your answer is anything like mine, it looks like this: AB-SO-LUTE-LY! So here’s to an increase in holy audacity, allowing us all to think, hope, and behave with a new boldness. And aided by His grace, holy audacity allows us to become intentional disciples of Christ.