We are in the fourth and final week of exploring the four Cardinal Virtues as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”). We previously covered prudence, justice, and temperance. In this final week we’ll explore fortitude.
The CCC tells us that “fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life.”
Furthermore, “the virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause.” (CCC1808)
It is not coincidental that fortitude is the last of the virtues that we are looking at. Fortitude gives us continuous firm will to persevere in the other three Cardinal Virtues. Without it, prudence, temperance and justice are not attainable in their fullness. Let’s take a look at four ways we can implement fortitude today:
1. BE CONSISTENT.
Develop a spiritual routine and stick to it. Spiritual dryness will come, emotions will change, but that shouldn’t distract us from our resolve. If we’ve committed to praying the Rosary every day, then we pray it every day, no exceptions.
2. DON’T BE AFRAID.
In 1 John 4:18 we are told that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Many of us grew up believing that God’s love for us depends on how much we give to Him, leaving us afraid of punishment when we didn’t measure up.
God’s love is not conditional, we know that when we look at the pierced heart of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. God loves you, even when you don’t love yourself, and this brings me to the third point:
3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
St. Paul in Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and then a few chapters later in Romans 7:18, he tells us why: “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” St. Paul is recognizing that because of our fallen nature we will undoubtedly sin. This isn’t as much about the sin as it is about our recovery from it. That’s not to say that avoiding sin isn’t important, but simply knowing that when we do sin, we shouldn’t write ourselves off as failures.
When Peter asks Jesus if he should forgive up to seven times, Jesus says “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). That also means forgiving yourself. We can further apply this to perseverance: if you fall down seventy-seven times, get up seventy-seven times, and so we conclude this series with the last and most important point:
4. DON’T GIVE UP. EVER.
Never give up in prayer, in fasting, in reading the Scriptures, in doing good, in forgiving, and in loving. St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that God’s grace is sufficient for us because the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness.” Our God is a God of mercy and incomprehensible love. He has a good plan for your life. Trust that.
Let us pray that when our time is up here on earth, we may boldly say the words of St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
May God bless us all, in everything that we do.