We have already entered fully into the season of Lent. We know that it is a time in which the soul tries to unite itself more closely to God, with prayers, fasting, and also, with other means of penitence. Today, however, I don’t want to speak to you of this, but of a very important virtue: Fortitude.
What is a virtue? Virtue is an usual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person, not only to complete good actions, but to give the best of himself. With all his strength the virtuous person tends to the good, seeks it and chooses it doing good deeds to please God.
Fortitude is a Cardinal virtue, but it is above all a gift of the Holy Spirit. In its deeper meaning, the virtue of Fortitude is understood as the ability of a person to complete well his own duty, and to practice all the virtues. It assures him from God, a steadfastness and constant search of what is good. It helps us and sustains us when we have to withstand the temptations that we meet, and it makes us able to face with courage, the tests of this life, and also the wickedness and the injustices of the people.
The importance of this virtue derives from the fact that, only through this virtue, is it possible for man to complete every day, with love, the will of God. In fact, Fortitude has to be present in all the moments of his life: in the exercise of goodness, of pardon, of patience, on the job, in the house, in matrimonial fidelity, in the perseverance of his own vocation, in the exercise of every activity, in the apostolate, and in all the other vicissitudes of life. He is strong who perseveres in the completion of his own duty. He sometimes suffers, but withstands. He perhaps cries, but hides the tears even if tormented by difficulties. He doesn’t collapse.
At this point, we could bring examples of innumerable Saints, that, to be faithful to God he must know also how to abdicate his own life. We have a great example of it in Eleazar, an elder of the Old Testament, that knew how to face, at the age of eighty years with great courage, death by scourging. In fact, in front of those people that threatened to put him to death if he had not eaten the forbidden meats, he answered: “And I shall leave an example of fortitude to young men, if with a ready mind and constancy I suffer an honourable death, for the most venerable and most holy laws” (2 Maccabees 6:28).
Just as in these days of Lent, we read in the Liturgy of the Hours, these words: “Strong in faith, we watch over against the traps of the enemy: only to the faithful servants it is promised the crown of glory.” And St. Peter admonishes us: “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1Pt 5:8). We often experience terrible doubts, uncertainties, and temptations urging us to divert from God, up to the point of denying him, even of changing our religion. Here then, Fortitude makes man courageous in front of any danger and painful test in this life.
An ancient writer, Plinio, left a very meaningful statement on Fortitude: “Magnus, mind; sed major imperio sui”, translated it means: “Great is he who is brave; but he is greater who knows how to dominate himself.” Even though a pagan, he understood how very important Fortitude was: above all to dominate his own passions, and to conquer temptations.
Friends, I finish with a quote from Jesus for you to seriously reflect on: “…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Mt 11, 12). These words are very applicable today where everything is permissible, and nothing is counted as sin: vain amusements, impurity, revenges, wickedness, envies and jealousies, cohabitations, matrimonial divisions, abortions, homicides, immodest fashions, bonds of impurity, betrayals, the lack of the fear of God, attachment to money, ignorance and indifference of the Laws of God and the Catechism. There is no more seriousness in the life of many people; by living this way, when they die they go to hell. Let’s reflect well on the quote of Jesus, and also conclude, that it is very difficult to save our soul if we are not strong, and are not able to go against the current by not accepting all the foolish ideas of this time.
Let us beseech the Blessed Virgin, so that she makes us understand the importance of what we have just meditated upon.
I bless you all, I greet you from my heart, and I assure you of my daily prayers.
Padre Luigi Duilio Graziotti