What is fortitude?
It is very important that we develop the virtue of fortitude in our lives. Fortitude can be described by such words as persistence, staying power, determination, hanging in there over the long haul, and a firmness of mind or spirit in the daily challenges of life. Fortitude allows us to push ourselves to do a necessary undertaking that is difficult or distasteful especially when it is inconvenient. Let’s take a closer look.
Fortitude is the acquired habit of showing strength or courage. We need fortitude to overcome fear of bodily pain, temporal loss, ridicule, what people will think or say, and the displeasure of friends. It is not easy to go against what is popular. In some situations, in reaction to fear, we can yield to what we know to be sinful. Fortitude helps us to resist fear, foolhardiness, indifference and the single focus on selfish interests solely for pleasure or other’s admiration. When we develop fortitude through education, good acts frequently done, and perseverance in struggle, we are strengthened in our resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles that prevent us from living a joy-filled Christian life.
In developing the virtue of fortitude, we become persistent over a period of time in facing setbacks, failures, and misunderstandings, in order to pursue the good by accomplishing a goal that we have set for ourselves. The ultimate goal of living the virtue of fortitude is a good, decent life in this world.
The virtue of fortitude has two components – endurance and enterprise. Endurance helps us to keep going when we are fatigued, suffering, weak, exhausted, or facing discouragement. Enterprise helps us to undertake great deeds while withstanding hardship. Enterprise requires initiative to see a need and take on the responsibility to carry out a plan for the good of others.
When we exercise fortitude properly, we think through what we are about to do carefully and make reasonable decisions. We are willing to put ourselves in danger if necessary, but we do not seek danger for danger’s sake. In prior bulletin inserts the virtues of prudence (making good judgments) and justice (being fair) have been explained, which are the virtues through which we decide what needs to be done; fortitude gives us the strength to do it.
The supernatural virtue of fortitude, acquired through cooperating with the grace of the Holy Spirit, enables someone to face extreme danger and endure life threatening difficulty in defense of a just cause to achieve the ultimate goal of salvation or help others achieve the same. This courage is founded upon hope in Christ’s promise of eternal life with Him.
As we all know, it takes real courage to stand up for what is right. Hope in the face of difficulty is what makes a person act with courage. The most courageous actions are based upon hope in Jesus Christ and eternal life. May our task be to ask for and cooperate with God’s grace in developing the virtue of fortitude, and allowing Him to perfect it in us. Fortitude will ensure constancy in living more fully as committed disciples of Jesus Christ.