I don’t often feel like someone who has a lot of courage. Once in a while, I’ll be inspired to stand up for the truth of the Faith when it’s challenged. But most of the time, I am more likely to keep my peace rather than confront others. I worry about the job I’m doing with my kids, and am too often frustrated by the challenges of parenting. I am not quick to communicate any concerns to the school my children attend. While I strongly agree with the moral teachings of the Church, I’m not a cultural crusader. In fact, I often find myself overwhelmed by life.
Based on these observations, you might assume that I missed out on the Gift of the Holy Spirit known as Fortitude when I received the sacrament of confirmation. After all, Fortitude, as one of the natural cardinal virtues, is the virtue of moral courage. I certainly feel weak in that department. But I may actually be in exactly the right position to receive Fortitude as a Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Through the Gift of the Holy Spirit of Fortitude, the Holy Spirit infuses us with supernatural courage when we are at the end of our strength. In our weakness, His strength is made perfect. (2 Cor 12:9) Supernatural Fortitude is founded in the trust that God will work out all things for good for those who love Him. (Rom 8:28) So this Gift of the Holy Spirit flows out of the theological virtue of hope, trust that the promises of the Lord are true, especially His promises of salvation. Hope also extends to trusting God for our everyday needs. So when we turn in trust to the Holy Spirit for strength in times of trial, we are exercising hope and the Gift of Fortitude.
What does the Holy Spirit want to do for you through the Gift of Fortitude? There are a number of ways that we can draw on the strength of the Holy Spirit through this Gift.
• The Holy Spirit can help us to choose what is morally right even when we find it difficult to do so.
• The Holy Spirit can give us the strength to persevere in our pursuit of what is right and good, even when we’re at the end of our strength.
• The Holy Spirit empowers us to stand for the good and the right even when our courage is stretched beyond the limits of our own natural power.
• With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can patiently endure suffering and unite it to the cross of Jesus as an act of love. This practice of uniting our suffering to Christ’s is called salvific suffering.
• The Holy Spirit can give us the courage to look within our own hearts and face the evil we find there. He also gives us the courage to conquer our sin and to grow in goodness.
• Finally, don’t think of the Gift of Fortitude as a gift you draw upon only in emergencies or dire situations. Disciples of Jesus are called to live our Faith in our everyday lives. We can call on the Holy Spirit to help us do so boldly. Fortitude may inspire you to reach out in love to someone who seems lonely. Maybe it will inspire you to finally extend an olive branch to the person holding a grudge against you, or to meet a need that nobody else seems to be doing anything about. Even these small acts of charity take on supernatural significance when they are done with trust and Fortitude.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are expressions of actual grace. In other words, they help us to act in ways that strengthen our relationship with God. Trusting God strengthens our relationship with Him. Relying on His strength is one way that we partner with God and participate in the Divine Life. Fortitude helps us overcome sin and evil so we can embrace God’s goodness. So, even if you don’t feel brave and strong most of the time, pray for the Gift of Fortitude and draw up on the strength of the Lord.
By Jeffrey Arrowwood
Fortitude is defined as courage in pain and adversity. The gift of Fortitude gives me the courage to do what God asks and expects of me, in high school and as I’m getting ready to move on in the next chapter of my life. Fortitude is especially important in trusting and having confidence in the way that God is leading me.
Allie Livernash Class of 2019 Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish Wisconsin Rapids, WI
The Gift of Fortitude gives me the courage to do what I know is right for others. In a fast-paced world of social media and peer pressure, I think it can be hard to do what you know is right. Fortitude helps me have the courage to make the correct decisions.
Mary N. 8th Grade St. Patrick Parish Onalaska, WI
It was not until I was a freshman in High School when I received the Gift of Fortitude. It is such a strong quality to obtain, and it is only attainable through God. When we look at the saints and Jesus we can see their courage to do good, and we are able to find hope and inspiration through them.
Riley Kate M. Junior Immaculate Conception Parish Eau Claire, WI
The Gift of Fortitude is very important to me as a high school student. I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me Fortitude so that I am able to avoid temptation to sin and choose what is good.
Sarah Sukanen Class of 2019 St. Anne Parish Wausau, WI
Published July/August 2019 Issue