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!
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!
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!
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!
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
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
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)