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Fortitude: A Virtue We Need Now (+How to Get It)

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“…these difficult times…”

You’ve heard this phrase spoken often by friends, family members, acquaintances,celebrities, leaders, political figures, and so on. Yes; we’re keenly aware in these present times that challenges face us on all fronts: globally, nationally, in our Church, in our cities, our parishes, our families, and our own personal lives.

Like many of you, I pray about this—often! But I’ve considered that there must be something more that God wants to offer me; another tool to face the strife. I just couldn’t put my finger on it…

…and in his perfect timing, God reminded me about something: fortitude.

What Is Fortitude?

I think we’ve all heard the word “fortitude” before, and some of us know it’s a virtue… but how many of us can define it? Often, we simplify it to mean courage, bravery, or the more traditional long-suffering, but it means much more:

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. 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. “The Lord is my strength and my song.” “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1808)

So, fortitude is the moral virtue that…

  • Strengthens our resolve (determination)
  • Strengthens us to resist temptation
  • Strengthens us to overcome obstacles in our quest to follow Jesus
  • Enables us to conquer fear, even fear of death
  • Enables us to face our trials, bullying, and persecutions
  • Disposes us to renounce and sacrifice our life in defense of a just cause (if we should be called to do so)

To me, then, fortitude is like having the best Spiritual Trainer, Motivator, Coach, Military Leader, and Loved One, all rolled up into one, living within and transforming you.

Are you saying to yourself, as I am, “Wow, I definitely want this!”?

How Do I Gain Fortitude?

While we can train our bodies and minds to have increased strength and endurance, the moral virtue of fortitude is beyond solely our own natural abilities.

Isaiah the Prophet tells us that God’s Spirit will rest on the Lord’s Servant, and then proceeds to list the gifts of the Spirit. Included in these is “strength” or fortitudo in Latin (cf. 11:2-3).

So, we gain fortitude through our efforts as well as prayer to the Holy Spirit. Let’s (1) ask for the gift, (2) thank God for hearing us, and (3) prepare ourselves to be receptive.

Asking

The stories of Jesus’ healings and mighty deeds always begin with someone’s request of him, or approaching & reaching out to him.

Why do you want to receive the gift of fortitude? What challenges or trials are becoming obstacles in your life? Tell the Lord in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit for fortitude.

Thanking

Giving God thanks for a gift, even when we don’t immediately see the results we expect, is important; it helps us to have an expectant faith. In the New Testament, mighty deeds done by Jesus—or by others in his name—are accomplished in persons who trust that God is present and active in their lives. We thank God because we are grateful; we trust that God is generous with spiritual gifts and listens to us with compassion (cf. Luke 11:13).

Preparing

Let’s “till the soil” of our hearts, preparing ourselves to be receptive to God’s gifts.

In his exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis also calls us to be “firmly rooted in prayer” as we call on the Holy Spirit for courage to live our faith (cf. no. 259). Let’s examine our typical day, and consider how we can speak more regularly with God—who should remain our Rock at all times (cf. Luke 6:48).

Each of our lives is unique, and thus, each of us will require fortitude in a unique way. We can look to the saints for guidance; not to follow exactly their personal spiritual & moral activities, but to inspire us to live our faith as our daily activities call us to live. The Pope writes:

Some people nowadays console themselves by saying that things are not as easy as they used to be, yet we know that the Roman empire was not conducive to the Gospel message, the struggle for justice, or the defense of human dignity. Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all. These things are ever present under one guise or another; they are due to our human limits rather than particular situations. Let us not say, then, that things are harder today; they are simply different. But let us learn also from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day. (no. 263)

Are you ready? Together, let’s seek the virtue of fortitude. Let’s go forth on our daily  journey, pursuing hope no matter what causes us to stumble, fall, or throw us off the Way. Thank you, God, for the gift of fortitude!


Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.

Meet the Master: Jesus’ Love

You are invited to spend a VIRTUAL morning of reflection on Jesus’ love with Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Meet Jesus as a man who had friends & family, an Aramaic-speaking Jew.

  • What did he say about love? Whom did he love?
  • How could a loving God allow evil & suffering?
  • Encounter Jesus’ words and actions; informed by history and role models for us today.

Presenter: Angela Sealana

To Participate: Simply show up at this website by the starting time listed! The video will be here for you to watch along. To participate in the live chat, watch from our Facebook page.

Cost: Pilgrim Center of Hope is a non-profit evangelization ministry, sustained only by donations. While there is no required fee for attending, please consider donating a one-time gift or showing your support with a monthly donation. Every bit helps this mission of hope to continue. Thank you!



Materials for this Morning of Reflection

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Finding Joy, Faith & Hope In Any Situation

Some Context

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure, and to a pearl of great price. When they are discovered, the one who finds them sells all he has to acquire them. The point is not the value of the treasure or of the pearl, but of the kingdom of heaven, which leads us to the last comparison; the net thrown into the sea. At the end of the age, all humanity will be gathered together; some will be invited into the kingdom of heaven and others will not.

As Jesus says in another place, “Where ever your treasure is, so also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21). Those to whom the kingdom of heaven was of primary importance during their life and who were faithful witnesses of their love for God and neighbor will receive their treasure in heaven.

What To Seek

In the first reading, we see that Solomon answered wisely when God offered to give him whatever he asked for. When he asked for an understanding heart so that he could serve God and His people better, God was pleased. In his heart, Solomon was not far from the kingdom of heaven.

It was as if he was prophesying what Jesus would tell us in the Gospel of Matthew: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). These words from Jesus are the light that will guide us into his kingdom. They are the fulfillment of the Two Greatest Commandments; we must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourself. When we order our lives toward God, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

So we must ask ourselves, where is our treasure? What are you willing to give everything you have for? In what are you investing?

How to Find the Treasure

One resource that we all have equally is time. Everyone of us has 24 hours each day, and how we use that time has a great deal to do with our proximity to the kingdom of heaven. All we need to make an eternal investment is our intellect and our free will.

I remember Fr. Bruce Nieli, a Paulist priest who used to live in Austin, telling us that when he was going through a difficult time he would visit a friend who was a quadriplegic. He said, this man, though handicapped was always filled with joy because of his love of God and his great prayer life. Joy does not mean the absence of difficulty; it means having great faith and trust that in the end “… all things work for good for those who love God…” as Paul tells us in the second reading (Romans 8:28).

I have heard people say they do not have time to pray. What is it that you are doing that you can do on your own without God’s help? It is His love that allows us to take our next breath. There is a saying, “No prayer means no faith,” because prayer is our connection to God. Without faith, we have no hope.

Perhaps it could be said that the kingdom of heaven is like the prayer of a faithful person, because it always puts us in the company of God. Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When we pray, we are always at least in the company of our Guardian Angel.

Make the Commitment

It is especially our commitment to daily prayer and to the sacraments of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist that keep us invested into eternal life and help us to reach our greatest happiness on earth. Prayer and the sacraments help us to be better husbands, wives, parents, children, etc. Whatever is most dear to our hearts is best protected by prayer and the sacraments of the Church.

Jesus closes this Gospel by asking, “Do you understand all these things?” Like Solomon, let us pray for the gift of understanding, but also for the greater gift of believing; because by faith we are often called to believe that which we cannot understand. The Scriptures and the Church will guide us into the kingdom of heaven if we believe what has been revealed to us, and then act on what we believe.

If you want to be close to the kingdom of heaven, make a commitment to spend time close to Jesus in his Eucharistic Presence in the Blessed Sacrament chapel. You’ll be glad you did.


Deacon Tom FoxK.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

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Pilgrims carry the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - January 2017

When Your Cross Is Too Heavy!

Pilgrims carry the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem - January 2017

Any person, whether a follower of Jesus or not, will suffer frustration and pain in this life. Taking up one’s cross and following Jesus is something completely different. The Lord Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Mark 8:34, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t just a symbol of pain and suffering; it was mainly a symbol of death. That doesn’t sound very good does it?

What is your cross?

What Jesus is referring to is an invitation to:

  • Walk with him – and as we do, we learn about his teachings; his message on how to live daily with his peace.
  • Begin a relationship with him, with a commitment to the end.
  • To be obedient, even to the extreme measure and willingness to die in pursuit of obedience to him, who is the Truth.
  • To trust him alone for our salvation, and then to follow him as his disciples. He said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Our cross can be physical or spiritual or psychological. It can range from a sickness or disorder to the inner wounds caused by someone who has hurt us.

St. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, as we read in 2 Corinthians 12:7. We don’t exactly know what the thorn in the flesh was that St. Paul carried. Whatever it was, Paul’s first course of action was to ask the Lord to take this thorn away. So we, too, can ask the Lord Jesus to remove our pains or lighten them. However, if they remain, like Paul we will find our strength and peace in Jesus.

How do I embrace my cross?

Only with the help of God’s grace – which is quite different from trying our best to accept a cross without grace. When we do embrace our cross with God’s grace, we find ourselves depending on God more and more each day! Then it is possible to carry our cross knowing that God is helping us!

I met a woman a few years ago who was dying of cancer. She thanked God for the cancer because it brought her to know Him – and to a point where she could forgive those who had hurt her. She told me that if she would have died before her illness, she may have lost her soul, because she had been filled with bitterness due to wounds and hurts from her past. During that time, she didn’t know about the life of Jesus. Her illness placed her on a journey of healing, a different healing than expected; her healing was in her soul and her mind. She was at peace and ready to meet her Creator. She embraced her cross, and it brought her to new life with Jesus.

Take a moment now to ask the Lord Jesus to give you his grace; the strength needed to carry your cross.

The Lord Jesus willingly embraced the cross for our sake to atone for our sins and to free us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Proclaim boldly what no earthly power can destroy -the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus had to carry his cross, so the disciples must carry their cross and not try to evade it. To suffer for the faith is to share in the work of Christ. Do you trust in God’s grace to carry your cross for Jesus’ sake? – DailyScripture.net

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – St. Paul the Apostle

Jesus, with you I can carry my cross!


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

Help In Keeping Faith through Trials

Do you suffer the burden of faith?

You seek to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church even though many others, especially those in our own family, harbor doubts about God’s providence and goodness. You suffer under the burden of what you know is true yet cannot see.

If this is you, I would like to introduce you to someone who may help you. Her name is St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist.

There is little written about her life outside the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Yet, in what we know about the time she lived, who she lived with and what happened to her, we discover much about St. Elizabeth. We know:

  • She is a first century Jew living in a hill country town of Judah.
  • She is married to a Jewish priest, named Zechariah.
  • She is an ancestor of Aaron, a priest and the brother of Moses.
  • She is considered righteous in God’s eyes, which means faithful to his commandments.
  • She is elderly and childless.
Trials of Faith

Knowing that in Elizabeth’s culture, a barren woman was considered sinful or cursed, we can see that this woman had to have suffered trials of sorrow, embarrassment, and condemnation for most of her adult life. Being from a priestly class and married to a priest, she must have been well versed in Scripture and in the promises God made to her people. Yet for the majority of her years, she did not witness evidence of their fulfillment.

We learn that Zechariah, while performing his priestly service in the Lord’s sanctuary, is visited by the Archangel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:8). When Gabriel tells him that his wife will bear him a son in answer to his prayer, he does not believe. Zechariah had been praying for a child. An angel tells him his prayer is being answered. Zechariah doubts. Yet, we also know from Luke’s Gospel that he remained faithful to his duty as priest and, along with Elizabeth, is considered righteous in God’s eyes (cf. Luke 1:6).

It seems then, that it was Elizabeth’s faith in trial that upheld the righteousness of this pair. Elizabeth carried the burden of faith for them both.

Faith, as defined in the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1, is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

When God’s promise of a child is fulfilled despite her husband’s doubts, Elizabeth’s faith meets the hope she has long carried, exclaiming, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others” (Luke 1:25).

Blessings from Perseverance

We can look at the life of St. Elizabeth and see many blessings that come from perseverance in faith:

  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to proclaim God, as when she is greeted by Mary (cf. Luke 1:43-45).
  • Elizabeth’s faith is ever ready to stand firm, as when she defies her neighbors and relatives; insisting her son be named John as the angel had told her husband (cf. Luke 1:60).
  • Elizabeth’s faith works to heal her husband’s doubts and deafness (cf. Luke 1:63-64).
  • Elizabeth’s faith raises her son “strong in spirit” for God’s mission (cf. Luke 1:80).
  • And, Elizabeth’s faith inspires Mary to proclaim her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56).
Encouragement In Persevering

I wonder if, when Mary goes in haste to her cousin, it was also in God’s design that Elizabeth help her. I wonder if God entrusted the Mother of God to this woman of steadfast faith to be an encouragement to Mary, who will soon be enduring her own trials of faith.

It is truly difficult to carry the burden of faith for others in our life who doubt God’s goodness. It is very hard when we face trials that tempt us to doubt that God sees us, that he knows our suffering.

Let the witness of St. Elizabeth console you that God does see you! And God is counting on your faith in him to help carry out his plan of salvation in you, and through you, for others.

When the burden of faith becomes too hard to carry, we can find hope through our trials by seeking the companionship of other followers of God; be it our friends in Heaven or those working out our salvation here on earth. Pilgrim Center of Hope is here to accompany you. Our website includes the Port of Hope to help weary wayfarers find spiritual rest, inspiration, and encouragement in Jesus Christ and the Church.

We also invite you to save the date on your calendar for our annual Catholic Women’s Conference (10/30-31/2020) and the Catholic Men’s Conference (2/27/2021). Both events are ideal places to find sources of encouragement in faith as we encounter Christ with our sisters and brothers in fellowship and worship.


Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

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