What is fortitude?
‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ Romans 8:31 – We often think of fortitude as the virtue that helps us be fearless. That’s not the case. Fortitude is the virtue of courage BUT in it’s appropriate place.
Fortitude ensures that I am not led into evil by fear or paralysed from doing good by fear. It shows us how to have courage in the pursuit of the good! In the pursuit of what is true, good and beautiful, we need Fortitude to go through hardship, discomfort, pain and persecution.
Fortitude is about being brave for the sake of the good. Thus only a prudent man can be brave -prudence allows to comprehend the good. We must remember that effort and difficulty are not the causes of virtue. Doing something that takes difficulty or effort is not in and of itself the virtue of fortitude. Rather is it engaging in something difficult because that something leads us to our ultimate good. Thus only the prudent – able to discern between goods is able to brave.
Two aspects of Fortitude according to Aquinas
o Endurance – the part of courage that allows us to withstand whatever may be happening in us or to us. Keeping our eyes fixed on the prize and accepting suffering. In a no-fault car accident, this would be the part that we have to endure an insurance claim, searching for a new car, and perhaps the pain of whiplash
- It’s important to recognise that endurance is not sheer passivity. Our endurance is an active decision on our part to endure for the sake of the good. It’s not just white knuckling as bad things happen. Its directing our emotions and desires towards God, even when theres bad stuff going on in our lives
o Attack – the part where we actively pursue a path of withstanding the difficulties where it’s reasonable to do so. In that same car accident, this would be seeking a just financial resolution where the other driver was at fault. It’s not exercising fortitude to simply roll over and say, oh well, they were at fault but I won’t seek this claim through. For most of us who aren’t filthy rich, or have multiple cars to spare, this isn’t a reasonable outcome. It’s good, and just to seek out compensation, and it takes courage to pursue that.
o If someone treats us poorly, speaks unkindly of us. There’s an element of endurance around that, taking the hit so to speak. BUT there is also an element of attack, where an opportunity is presented to confront that person and ask them to stop speaking unkindly to you, and to raise the impact of workplace relationship, culture and work productivity being harmed due to this behaviour.
In either one of these examples, fear could potentially stop us from undertaking either one of these. Fortitude enables us to overcome the fear and to undertake the action in all charity and prudence.
Magnanimity – greatness of soul
o The world offers you comfort, you were not made for comfort, but for greatness – Benedict XVI
o Pursues what is noble and honourable especially in the service of another – it’s heroic ambition
§ Not opposed to humility, because a magnanimous person knows their true ability and doesn’t look to imprudently take on what is outside of their scope but ALSO knows how much value he/she has to add by the gifts we have been granted NOT by comparing self to another
§ Magnanimous person is also not looking to be honoured for what they do – not for self but in service of others
The magnanimous person will tend also to be the prudent and just person. Since what informs his understanding of the good regarding his fellow man is the reality that all men and women are made in the image and likeness of God.
The more confidence we have in God the more magnanimous we become – Confidence coming from the word – fides – meaning faith
- Eg. Moses when he was called to lead people out of Egypt had to first fight an interior battle between opportunity for magnanimity vs pusillanimity (ignorance of own qualification). That image in Prince of Egypt when you hear the voice of God become almost angry, I feel like that’s not a portrayal of a domineering God but rather a God desperate to make us realise the qualification he has created us with ‘namely HIS child’. You hear it in Exodus 4:11 after Moses puts up the excuse that his speech is not eloquent. God asks him ‘who gave all these gifts and talents, was it not I the lord? Now go’. I hear my father’s desperation for ‘get out of this lie of lacking, have courage and have confidence in ME’. That’s the only qualification we need to love God more deeply, is to be his child whole heartedly.
Patience – bearing sorrows well
o Moderates sorrow
o Bearing sufferings without being broken by sorrow – by broken I mean turn to melancholy, lose all hope, drive and motivation to continue in the depth of spiritual life. Broken doesn’t mean sad – sad is an appropriate emotion, Jesus wept, but to let the sorrow consume us, is not Christ like at all.
o Patience prevents us from being discouraged – that is ‘from losing courage’.
This is of particular importance for growth in virtue. If we fall, we must not allow a self-pity to consume us. Instead, be encouraged by Gods goodness and mercy and keep on striving through the virtue of fortitude.
Patience is the embodiment of integrity
It is the regulation of of emotions and desires towards the possession of the good, despite difficulty and sadness.
Practice patience in the little things – find the joy in being asked to wait a few more minutes for someone to meet with you, or be ready. Find the joy in a new opportunity being given to you, take deep breaths, focus less on frustration and more on what you love about them. It’s very hard to be angry with someone when you’re grateful for them.
TBG (Truth, Beauty, Goodness)
Padre – Phone call at the Parish (unknown caller)
Stina – Edward Sri – The Art of Living – tag Augustine institute
Link to immaculata sisters – (sistersoftheimmaculata.org.au)