Gifts of the Holy Spirit Series - FORTITUDE

by Fr. Edlefsen

What is the Holy Spirit’s Gift of Fortitude?

By Fr. Edlefsen

The Holy Spirit’s gentle “whispers” quietly play like background music, behind the scenes of life’s circumstances. Like a ship’s sails, the Spirit’s Gifts catch the “wind” of the Spirit’s breath, and we are inspired to pray or act as only God knows we should. To be under the influence of the Spirit’s Gifts is the essence of Christian mysticism and holiness.

In the previous five bulletins, I’ve written about the Gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, and Piety. These articles are on our website. Through Wisdom, we become intimate with Christ. Through Understanding, our faith is deepened. Through Knowledge, we see humans as beautifully made, profoundly broken, yet redeemed by Christ. Through Counsel, God places his good word on our lips and his good action in our heart – at the right time. Through Piety, we receive a “spiritual childhood” that gives us a loving sense of affection and gratitude to God. This article is about the Gift of Fortitude.

The words “courage” and “fortitude” may be interchangeable. However, I will use “courage” to identify a virtue and use “fortitude” to identify the Gift of the Spirit. Virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are different phenomena. A virtue is a habit to do the good; whereas a Gift is a disposition to be moved by the Holy Spirit. The virtue of courage is the habit of doing the good when it is uncomfortable, daunting, sacrificial, or even life-threatening. The Gift of Fortitude elevates the virtue courage to a purely divine level. By Fortitude, we bear a radical or heroic witness to Christ or “what is right” when it requires a great personal sacrifice, perhaps even our life. The martyrs are the most notable examples of Fortitude in action.

Pray for Fortitude when your faith in challenged. Through Fortitude, the Spirit grants perseverance in faith, hope, and love – and in bearing witness to Christ – when spiritual trials or temptations last a long time. "The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Fortitude draws upon the grace of Confirmation to give you a serene energy, in midst of trial, from which you will draw strength. The Gift of Fortitude perfects the virtue of Courage, and it produces the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.”


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