Holy Audacity calls us to be a voice for justice and peace

In 2022, the Good Samaritan Education’s Governing Council discerned to take up Holy Audacity as one of its core values. This year, this new dynamic value is at the heart of our community formation.

It doesn’t take too much explanation or imagination to understand what audacity looks like. Many people we know, or know of, are bold and passionate and make choices outside the usual stream of what everyone else is doing because it is what they believe in.

Often their starting point is discontent; an awareness that the status quo jeopardises justice and peace on either a personal or communal level.

Here are a couple of examples. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg used the little power she had as a young girl courageously, and continues to engage others to draw the world’s attention to climate change. Australian of the Year in 2021 Grace Tame claims her integrity boldly and unapologetically as a foundation for her call for justice for others.

The Gospel story of Jesus upending tables in the temple to clear it of corruption is a jarring image for us if we have sanitised or made our image of Jesus too comfortable. He provoked and caused friction for those happy with the status quo. From the depths of each one’s integrity, they could not contain the need to speak truth to power, to speak out and challenge things close to their hearts.

If you were to pause for a moment, undoubtedly there would be a few people in your life who embody these qualities; people in whose company we can often feel the discomfort of their prophetic voice calling us to be more, too.

Sister Joan Chittister OSB says that “to have holy audacity is to embrace the prophetic call, to be a voice for justice and peace, and to challenge the powers that oppress and marginalise.”

Although Holy Audacity isn’t always loud, bold and brassy, it comes from a place of active contemplation; sometimes, it looks like the courage to follow a star. Isaiah prophesied that “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”, foreseeing the Magi who would come to worship Jesus with no more than trust, faith and a star to guide them. The star of the Magi is a symbol for us this year, following the example of those who dared to hope in a new way, a promise of full life in Christ, love manifest.

For us as seekers along the way of Benedict, with the guiding light of Christ, to live Holy Audacity is to embody that bold, stirring and energy-pulsing revolutionary love of Christ.

Not the domesticated or romanticised version of love but rather the love that requires courage to step beyond our comfort zones and strive for something greater. Its essence comes from being grounded in faith and trusting God to dream big dreams in tandem with the work of justice and peace.

Image: Benedictr Listen.

Holy Audacity, embedded in the Rule of St Benedict, embodies a courageous and bold approach to living out one’s faith, characterised by a profound sense of purpose and daring, fired with the desire to shape the hope “that we might all be one” (Jn 17:21) now.

Expressed through hospitality, it embodies genuine warmth and radical openness, where the stranger is received as Christ (RB 53.1), fostering connections that transcend divisions and cultivating peace through understanding and dialogue.

Holy Audacity echoes the call of Benedict and the ministry of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, responding to the signs of the times and being proactive in pursuing peace (RB Prol 17).

If I were to offer the verb for Holy Audacity, it would be grace. Usually, grace is used as a noun; divine grace refers to divine influence, gifted, not earned. To take divine grace simultaneously as both a noun and a verb is to see what Holy Audacity looks like in the world.

In Julia Baird’s new book, Bright Shining: how grace changes everything, at the beginning of her exploration of grace, she says, “It’s both ineffable and utterable. It’s not esoteric, it’s wrapped in the every day, but it is still extraordinary.” She quotes Sister Helen Prejean, the American Catholic nun whose ministry is with people on death row: “We’re called to leave this little ego-centred thing of our lives, to pour ourselves out into something bigger than ourselves, to help justice come into the world, you know that’s grace within you.”

To me grace is being in communio, the awareness of my relatedness to God, being bound in love. So Holy Audacity is the response of my soul when I abide in that love – the heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love (RB Prol 49).

Holy Audacity as a core value for Good Samaritan Education should cause some discomfort, for not unlike the prophets and Christ, it echoes the call to show up, be vulnerable, stand with integrity and live out of grace, even in the face of adversity.

In 2024, we are called to continue the unfolding of what Holy Audacity looks like in our community, through the actions of hospitality and the pursuit of peace.

By Gabrielle Sinclair, Director of Formation and Mission Integration with Good Samaritan Education.

This article was published in the March 2024 edition of The Good Oil.