An Essential Virtue: Fortitude

In 07 Observations on 2011/08/04 at 10:11 PM


Fortitude guides us to do what is right despite any difficulty. A Christian can expect to encounter difficult situations and hostility from the enemies of God. The Cross is never far from those who follow Jesus Christ.  There are martyrs in every age.

God is aware of our limitations when He gives us a task or permits something to happen to us.  He stands by us when people try to confuse us by efforts to undermine our faith, when our Christian values are ridiculed or when we’re pressured to conform. Fortitude helps us to forgive those who have offended us, to be patient with those who irritate us or are disagreeable and to return good for evil.

It is only with God’s help that our soul endures trials and is purified by them, making us more humble.  From all these negative experiences, we gain a capacity for understanding others, praying for them and treating them like Jesus Himself would treat them.   It is our duty to proclaim the Truth of Christ without fear and to help others resist all opposition.  This duty we can carry out by our faithfulness, prayers, example, words and cheerfulness.

We need to implore God to transform our souls, to transform our attitude as to what happiness and misfortune really are.  Pope John Paul II said that the persecutions for the faith endured in our time are often like those of the early church: that they merely assume different types of discrimination against believers and the Church community.  Today, unbeknownst to many, there are hundreds of thousands of witnesses to the Faith.  While unknown or perhaps forgotten by others, God knows them as they daily undergo diverse privations in diverse regions of the globe.

God ask of everyone a heroic steadfastness in proclaiming the Truth through our lives and words . . . even in environments which may be difficult and hostile to the teachings of Christ. He asks us to live fully the Christian virtues in the middle of the world in whatever circumstances life has placed us . . . to sanctify ourselves through living fidelity in the duties and circumstance of each day.  God wants us to bear difficulties peacefully and firmly place our trust in Him.

The virtue of fortitude is a daily Christian need in our times and world.  God’s aid is essential.  In simple terms, the virtue of fortitude is manifested by doing good faithfully despite all obstacles and resisting evils in such a way as not to become despondent.  We must overcome our moods, not complaining uselessly, but persevering in our duties and being cheerful when we are tired.  Simply, we must face the unpleasant or painful, accept those things that go against our plans and be vigilant not to invent problems or give too much importance to the everyday challenges that do arise.

It is the virtue of fortitude that enables us to be patient when unpleasant things happen or when we receive bad news.  It gives us peace in difficulties, helps us accept reality without complaining and invites us to accept difficulties in union with the Crucified.  It takes fortitude to accept disappointment, misfortune and even disaster with the steadfast love of God.

From Christ and seeing him clearly that gives us fortitude.  We must look upon his face, engage Him habitually in prayer and in the sacraments, so we can truly live the Christian life of loving, imitating and serving Him.  Christ walked where we walk, understands our humanity and holds out a nail-scarred Hand to encourage and supports us.

While the early Christians rejected customs and behaviors that were incompatible with the Faith they had received, they never felt out of place in the society to which they belonged.  It should be the same with us today.  We must accept the world where God has placed us and live in a way that people see the greatness and the wonder of following Jesus. In spite of all our defects we are God’s instruments, His hands, His voice to those we live and work amongst.  A Portuguese proverb speaks poignantly of this truth:  “ God writes straight with crooked lines.”

It is not, and never has been, an easy task to follow Christ.  Imitating Christ is serious work.  We need to be strong in order to persevere.  We need fortitude to be faithful in all things and not to stray.  The imitation of Christ is serious business.  As you meditate on the Gospel daily, Jesus passes by, stops and visits with us like He did with the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  Let us listen to Him, see Him and invite him to stay with us.


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