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123. The Virtue of Fortitude

1. We speak of fortitude as a virtue. In another place weshall discuss the gift of the Holy Ghost which has the same name.Fortitude is the virtue which enables a person to withstand thegreatest difficulties that block him from attaining his truegoal.

2. It is the special business of fortitude to stand up tograve difficulties and dangers. Since it has a special business, aspecial aim and purpose, it serves good in a special way, and is aspecial virtue. This means that fortitude is specifically distinctfrom other virtues, and is a clear-cut virtue on its ownaccount.

3. Fortitude puts down the paralysis of fear that wouldkeep a person from facing up to danger. On the other hand, itmoderatesdaring or courage which, without it, might lead aman to wildly impulsive and ineffective action.

4. In strictest interpretation of its meaning, fortitudeis the virtue of bravely facing the danger of death. A man capableof meeting with fortitude this greatest of dangers is not dauntedby lesser perils.

5. Therefore, fortitude is a soldierly virtue which facesdanger of death in defense of a just cause, whether in actual war,or in the warring we wage in daily life against the enemies of oursoul and its salvation. Fortitude is the hero's virtue, themartyr's virtue; it faces death bravely in spite of innerfears. Fortitude strengthens the soldier in war; fortitude helps aman practice religion in the face of derision and persecution;fortitude enables a person to care for the sick or to bury the deadin spite of the serious risk of deadly infection.

6. The chief act of fortitude is that of enduring, ofbearing up, of seeing the business through. It is not alone thevirtue of coming to grips with danger; it is also the holdingon.

7. The brave man cherishes fortitude as something good initself, and he strives to have it, to preserve it, and to manifestit in action when occasion calls for its exercise.

8. The man of fortitude has delight of soul in his strongendurance for good. Yet he must bear threat and hardship, pain, andperhaps death; in these trials, as such, there is no delight, butsorrow.

9. Fortitude is a virtue which meets danger as it comes,and often it comes suddenly and without warning. But fortitudeendures because it is seated in the soul as a habit, and thereforeit involves long forethought and preparation by which a man is madeready for sudden assaults.

10. Into the action of a brave man under the stress ofattack and serious danger, there enters an element of anger; notimmoderate, but moderate anger.

11. Fortitude is a fundamental or cardinalvirtue. It is an aid to every other virtue as a bulwark ofsteadfastness, and helps other virtues attain their ends despitewhat blocks and deters them.

12. Fortitude is a great and necessary virtue, but it isnot the most excellent of all. Of the four cardinal virtues, thedescending order of excellence is as follows: prudence is first,justice second, fortitude third, and temperance fourth.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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