The Last Word
Fortitude is one of the four great cardinal virtues. This means that it will be part of every act of virtue, helping every single virtue to reach its end, especially when it becomes arduous. That is the very object of this great virtue: the arduous or difficult good.
We all know by personal experience that a simple act of charity (just a smile at times), an act of humility (to say “sorry”), one of patience, of controlling our curiosity or our appetite, can be tough. Take any virtue: there are times when we just want to give up practicing it, it seems to us too hard. “I can’t!” That is when fortitude clicks in. “Come on, with His grace, you truly can!”
There is much talk about the problems our youth have to remain pure, to persevere in whatever they do, be it studies, holding a job, marriage, a vocation… Whenever you’re tempted to quit, call for help, and remember He is the Almighty and wills to help us persevere in the pursuit of good.
Fortitude also tackles fear, especially the greatest of all fears, the fear of death, “because fear of dangers of death has the greatest power to make man recede from the good of reason” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, IIa-IIae, Q. 123, Art. 12). And just as Christian civilization is based on trust in God, the true source of inner and social peace, many modern evil systems are the very opposite, they make people live in fear. Let us just mention freemasonry, communism and Islam. Fear is a common feature of these when you look closely at them. They rule by fear.
That is why there is a sacrament that corresponds to this cardinal virtue, and that is the great sacrament of confirmation, which strengthens us precisely for the battles of life, i.e., the battles for the practice of all virtues of our state of life. I am convinced that one of the causes of the incredible debility, weakness of our modern Catholics is a result of having meddled with the sacrament of confirmation after Vatican II, either by changing the matter or the form or by delaying giving it in late teenage years.
With the Prophet, let this ancient prayer be daily on our lips and heart in order to practice this major virtue: “O Lord, come to my aid!”
Fr. Daniel Couture