In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy pays tribute to Brian Lenihan who passed away recently.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 21 June 2011.

Courage is truly a fantastic gift. Courage to keep going, to fight, to live, to give witness in a time of adversity; courage simply to be who we are. In my life, I am so very inspired by the heroic courage of men and women, young and old who continue to walk the pathways of every day; despite horrific circumstances. Courage, I suggest is a spiritual gift that affords us with an innate confidence and knowledge that we are not alone. Our lives are necessary and yes we can begin again.

Much attention has been given recently to the heroic life of Brian Lenihan. A gentleman, a person of deep integrity, but most especially a young man full of courage. As he wrestled in his hugely responsible role as Minister of Finance, his courage living with terminal Pancreatic Cancer, inspired a nation. Looking at Brian, I often found myself, not engaging with the economic reality and financial crisis but with this question; how can he do this job as he is dying with cancer? Brian’s cancer brought with it a bigger context to the nation. We are greater than any recession. Our health is our truly our real wealth.

There is no recession when it comes to the abundance of spiritual courage in God’s  economy. There is wisdom in an ancient observation that those who have heavy crosses to carry always find the strength to do so. Brian Lenihan’s cross of cancer touched the nation. We all have loved, or known good people that carried the same cross of terminal illness. Heroic in their courage, resilience and integrity. Such fortitude brings hope to others. Hope that gives us an appreciation for all that we have and indeed the wisdom to appreciate every moment.

This is a time to give witness to the gift of courage. We may feel down by the harsh winds of recession and economic uncertainty, but as a people and nation we have many reasons to hope. Courage gives us that resilient spirit which helps us see the bigger picture. We all need plenty of it. These days, I think of our young Leaving Cert Students and hope that the gift of courage will inspire them to embrace their true value and not equate that with any points scored. When I consider the courage of those who live with constant debt, I find myself deeply humbled. Courage for so many people in all our communities simply means being able to get out of bed in the morning and face a new day. When we possess courage, hope is never too far away. I give thanks to God for so many inspirational people whom I know and who strengthens my faith because of their courage. Good people who in the words of St. Paul “Fight the good fight and keep the faith”. Brian Lenihan, like so many others personified courage, fortitude and resilience.

‘God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference’.