One of the hallmarks of the person and life of one of the latter Apostles, St. Barnabus, was his art of encouraging others. Actually Barnabus means “Son of Encouragement”.  Wherever he went, despite the many trials and tribulations he experienced, especially with St. Paul, he was always upbeat, positive, encouraging, supporting and consoling. What a marvelous attribute!

All of us are called to do the same!   Our nickname should be “Barnabus”--- son (daughter) of encouragement.   Why not make a proposal right now to seek opportunities to encourage others, to support others, to console others, to lift up the fallen like Barnabus, Simon the Cyrene, and the Good Samaritan.

THE HOLY SPIRIT.   One of the many titles for the Holy Spirit is “The Consoler”, as well as “The Sweet Guest of the soul”.   Given that this “Sweet Guest of the soul” has poured abundant consolation into our hearts, minds and souls, why not share this gift with others.

Therefore, what are some practical ways that we can be a Barnabus—a true son/daughter of consolation. Indeed there are many, but we will limit ourselves to five!

1.    PRAYER.   Upon noticing someone who is going through a period of desolation, pray for that person.  According to St. Ignatius desolation is a state of soul where faith is weak, as well as hope and charity.   One feels sad, depressed, tepid in God’s service and drawn to the low, the base, and the sensual. One wants to throw in the towel and abandon the struggle.  By the way, we all go through this state at times; even Jesus did when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane experiencing His mortal Agony in the Garden.   When you meet someone in this state pray a Hail Mary for him/her and a short but fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit. These prayers, said with fervor and faith, can lift the cloud of desolation!

2.     SMILE.   One of the clearest signs of belonging to Christ is the smile. This reflects the joy present in the depths of the soul. It is true that sadness is contagious, but it is equally true that joy is contagious especially through the simple charitable gesture of the smile!

3.     KIND AND ENCOURAGING WORDS.  Our words are like an elevator. If your press the “Up” button the elevator takes you up; if you press the “Down” button then the elevator takes you down to the basement! Words can do the same. Negative and uncharitable words can drag the listener into sadness and desolation.  But on the contrary, positive and encouraging words--- like the elevator going up—can lift one’s spirit! Why not follow the rules for speech given to us by St. Bonaventure:  “One should open his mouth on three occasions: to praise God, to accuse oneself of his own faults, and to edify one’s neighbor.”   Thanks St. Bonaventure!  Excellent advice to be a true Barnabus—Son/daughter of encouragement!
4.    SERVICE.  Our life should not be simply words but also actions.  Once aware of someone in  need of help why not--- without any delay like Our Lady who went quickly to serve St. Elizabeth—lend your time, energy and good will to serve!  Our words must be supported and complimented by actions!
5.    COMPLIMENT FREELY, FREQUENTLY, AND FULLY!!!!  Make it a habit to highlight and compliment others on their good works and achievements.  A few examples: a Mom after working long hours preparing dinner honestly deserves recognition and affirmation!  Why not simply compliment her:  Mom/ “honey” (wife) great meal! That really hit the spot!” Another example, your son gets good grades on his report card: “Son great achievement; God is truly pleased with your hard work!” Finally, a husband returning from a hard day’s work hears his wife’s encouraging words: “Honey, thanks!  We are all appreciative and eternally grateful for your selfless dedication at work to provide for the needs of the family!  Thanks a million!”

To summarize,  many people give in to despair and, sad to say, even consider the route of suicide, for many different reasons. The human heart is a mystery. However, one of the reasons is due to living in an environment of constant negativity, criticism, gossip, and bitterness--- all of these tear down rather than build up or edify!

Why not make the firm proposal today, right now, to assume a new nickname, “Barnabus”—son/daughter of consolation.  Beg the Holy Spirit the Consoler to come to your aid. Implore Our Lady whom we invoke under the title of “Cause of our joy” to be a true BARNABUS—Son/daughter of consolation!


A final challenge! Following, is a short passage from the Apostle St. Paul highlighting our topic of encouragement.  Here is a test for you!  Count the exact number of times that St. Paul exhorts us to encourage others. Then, take the cue, and put it into practice!

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. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement. (II Corinthians 3-7)