Thursday 21st February 2019

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Cardinal Virtues — Fortitude

October 13, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


It was with clever astuteness that Jesus responded to the Pharisees when they tried to devise a trap for Him by asking: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17). After examining a Roman coin and inquiring whose likeness and inscription was imprinted on it, His ingenious answer was: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).
“By this simple reply,” asserts Fr. Gabriel of Mary Magdalen, OCD, “Jesus gave us clearly and precisely a description of the virtue of justice” (Divine Intimacy [DInt], p. 830). As has been demonstrated over the past two weeks, “justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each one his due by a constant and perpetual will” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae [STh] II-II, Q. 58, art. 1), whether it be God, our neighbor, or societal groups.
“To God, we give the worship which is due Him as our Creator, Lord, and Father: adoration, honor, glory, gratitude, faithful observance of His laws, and humble, devout service. To our neighbor, we owe respect for his rights, taking into account our various obligations toward him,” continues Fr. Gabriel.
“As the observance of justice is a fount of peace and joy for our own conscience, so it also brings peace and joy to our family, to our community, to each person with whom we come in contact in our daily life, and to society in general” (DInt, pp. 830, 831).
We also saw last week that several other moral virtues are connected to justice, first and foremost the virtue of religion. In fact, St. Thomas devotes over forty questions in his Summa to virtues that share the character of justice (e.g., filial piety, patriotism, obedience, etc.) and the vices that oppose each either by excess or deficiency.
Interesting to note is that the Ten Commandments (or Decalogue) are designated by St. Thomas to be precepts of justice (see STh II-II, Q. 122). The first three Commandments deal with our activities toward God (i.e., virtue of religion), the fourth regulates our attitude and conduct toward our parents (i.e., virtue of filial piety), and the remaining six belong to justice simply and direct our duty toward all mankind (cf. Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa, p. 264).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) now treats the third cardinal virtue, fortitude, which it defines as “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good” (CCC, n. 1808).
The word fortitude, which is derived from the Latin fortitudo (“bravery” or “strength”), can be understood in two principal senses. “The first sense signifies in general a certain firmness of spirit and vigor of character,” states Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP.
“In the second sense it designates a special supernatural virtue, infused with sanctifying grace to strengthen the irascible appetite and the will so that they will not abandon the pursuit of the arduous or difficult good, even when faced with grave danger to bodily health and life” (Spiritual Theology [SpT], pp. 306-307).
Before proceeding it would be helpful to review briefly man’s appetites or passions, for just as prudence corresponds primarily to the intellect and justice to the will, fortitude corresponds to the irascible appetite, and, as we will see later, temperance to the concupiscible appetite. How do the appetites differ?
For an answer, we look to St. Thomas who insists that man has need of two sensitive appetitive powers:
“One through which the soul is simply inclined to seek what is suitable, according to the senses, and to fly from what is hurtful, and this is called the concupiscible; and another, whereby an animal resists attacks that hinder what is suitable, and inflict harm, and this is called the irascible….The irascible is, as it were, the champion and defender of the concupiscible” (STh I, Q. 81, art. 2).
The concupiscible and irascible appetites, which man has in common with irrational animals, belong to the lower, sensitive level of the soul. Created in the image and likeness of God with an intellect and free will, man, unlike animals, has the capacity to bring these appetites under the control of reason. As St. Thomas affirms, we need virtues in the sensitive appetites precisely because they can be educated and are open to the persuasion of reason:
“The virtue which is in the irascible [i.e., fortitude] and concupiscible [i.e., temperance] powers, is nothing else but a certain habitual conformity of these powers to reason” (STh I-II, Q. 56, art. 4).
Returning our focus solely to fortitude, it is the cardinal virtue that “strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life,” says the Catechism. “[It] enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions [and] disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause” (CCC, n. 1808).
To better illustrate the function of fortitude in the Christian life, let us consider the closely associated virtue of magnanimity (“greatness of soul”) and vices that oppose it. It is a virtue, says Fr. Aumann, that “presupposes a noble and lofty soul” (SpT, p. 308).
Magnanimity is a virtue that is related to fortitude whereby one is determined to aim at great things, to strive for excellence in the highest things. It especially aims at true excellence in the moral virtues in addition to wisdom and those intellectual virtues ordered to wisdom. It is closely related to seeking the common good of society — a magnanimous person is one who is generous in doing great things so as to build up the common good. On the natural level, we think of people like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who aimed at true excellence in philosophy.
In our society, which places such emphasis on practical concerns, true magnanimity is often overlooked. Rather than seeking excellence in what is truly highest, advancement in economic affairs and prosperity takes precedence over seeking moral virtue.
The difference between natural and supernatural magnanimity relates to the end, and a very important distinction is immediately evident. On the natural level, not everyone is equally gifted or has the intellectual ability to aim for excellence in philosophy or metaphysics. To exemplify this point in the temporal sphere, very few have the natural gifts to aim for an Olympic gold medal. So it is easy to see that it is very difficult for a less gifted person to be magnanimous on the natural level.
However, on the supernatural level, everyone is called to be magnanimous — the excellent end sought is sanctity — the means, God’s grace, is available to all. One should think immediately of the universal call to holiness, so expressly emphasized in the teachings of Vatican Council II (see Lumen Gentium, nn. 39-42). The truly magnanimous soul in the supernatural realm is the one whose goal is heroic sanctity — we can look to the saints as examples.
St. Ignatius of Loyola emphasizes the virtue of magnanimity in the beginning of the second week of his Spiritual Exercises in the meditation on the temporal king who is going out to conquer the world from the infidel and endeavors to recruit magnanimous soldiers who aim for great things so as to accomplish that goal. He contrasts this to Christ the King, who is out to conquer the Devil and sin, and seeks souls to enlist in His service.
The magnanimous soul is the one who will give of himself totally in imitation of Christ, holding nothing back even to the point of martyrdom. Renunciation of the things of the world so as to embrace the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience in the consecrated religious life would be an excellent example of magnanimity.

Recognition And Vainglory

The vice opposed to magnanimity by defect is pusillanimity and is, sad to say, a great problem in our secularist society of today. It consists in not striving for excellence or for the best things, the highest things, out of fear or unwillingness to expend the effort required — it is a lack of spiritual generosity. A pusillanimous person fails to strive for great ideals and is content in mediocrity or lukewarmness.
To gauge the seriousness of this defect, one is reminded of what is said in the Book of Revelation: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16).
The parable of the talents shows the seriousness of not putting forth one’s best out of fear — our Lord counted the servant who buried his talent (i.e., natural gifts) in the ground as worthless and had him cast into the outer darkness, where men weep and gnash their teeth (see Matt. 25:14-30).
On the supernatural level, to not strive for sanctity would be the sin of pusillanimity. Societal symptoms of this vice are such things as a decline in patriotism, a decline in religious vocations, and relativism and religious indifferentism.
On the other hand, the vices opposed to magnanimity by excess are presumption, ambition, and vainglory. Presumption is aiming at that which is beyond one’s capacity. On the supernatural level, it would be to think that sanctity is attainable through human power alone, without God’s grace (e.g., the heresy of Pelagianism).
In effect, it is presuming that one can attain a supernatural end by natural means. Ambition and vainglory are to seek excellence for the wrong reasons — for the sake of pride rather than the common good. Ambition is a disordered desire for recognition and vainglory for human glory.

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Pope picks liberal cardinals Cupich, Marx, Tagle for featured talks at Vatican Abuse Summit

ROME, February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle of the Philippines will be featured speakers at the Vatican’s upcoming summit on clerical sex abuse titled, “The Protection of Minors…Continue Reading


RAPID CITY, S.D. ( – A bishop is calling a Catholic apostolate “evil” for being critical of Cdl. Blase Cupich. Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota issued a statement to be read from all parish pulpits the weekend of Feb. 9–10 condemning…Continue Reading

The Christian Faith: The only valid and the only God-willed religion

The Truth of the filial adoption in Christ, which is intrinsically supernatural, constitutes the synthesis of the entire Divine Revelation. Being adopted by God as sons is always a gratuitous gift of grace, the most sublime gift of God to…Continue Reading

Roberts joins Supreme Court’s liberal wing in blocking Louisiana abortion law

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court’s liberal wing on Thursday in temporarily blocking a Louisiana law that would have placed restrictions on abortion clinics, in the high court’s first major ruling on abortion since the confirmation of Associate Justice…Continue Reading

Supermodel Takes On Catholic Poland With Sex Education Campaign

Supermodel Anja Rubik could be a symbol of any modern, progressive European country. After joining a campaign to defend women’s rights, she started tackling school sex education and published a book for teenagers that sought to counter the teachings of…Continue Reading

Cardinals endorse campaign to stop homosexual networks in Church

February 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller – the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – commented on a recently launched campaign to Stop homosexual networks in the Catholic Church as organized by the Swiss organization…Continue Reading

Back on Twitter, Bishop Tobin rebukes Catholic pols who support abortion rights

PROVIDENCE — After a months-long hiatus, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence has returned to Twitter to pointedly remind Rhode Island’s Catholic legislators — and the state’s Catholic governor — of his “track record on dealing with pro-abort…Continue Reading

US bishop rebukes Virginia Governor for ‘staggering’ infanticide remarks

ARLINGTON, Virginia, January 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The staunchly pro-lifeCatholic Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, has strongly rebuked pro-infanticidecomments made earlier this week by Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. Bishop Michael Burbidge today called Northam’s comments a “staggering admission” that reveals just “how far abortion…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: ‘We must provide sex education in schools’

ROME, January 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis is advocating sex education in schools, saying he believes children “must” be taught “objective” lessons about human sexuality that aren’t “soaked with ideological colonization.” During an inflight press conference on his return…Continue Reading

Trump blasts Virginia Democrats for defending infanticide

January 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump lambasted Virginia Democrats for supporting abortion up until, during, and even after birth, calling Delegate Kathy Tran’s comments on her bill permitting abortion even as a woman goes into labor “terrible.” Virginia…Continue Reading

Catholic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Vows to Sign Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is pushing a radical pro-abortion bill in her state while claiming to be Catholic. The legislation, which contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, would legalize abortions for basically any reason up to birth. A…Continue Reading

Undiscovering Columbus: Notre Dame President Puts Explorer Under Wraps

The University of Notre Dame has capitulated to several left-of-center causes and ideologies that threaten its reputation as the premier Roman Catholic college in the nation. The most recent submission to contemporary ideologies is the decision to cover the murals…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Dubia cardinals to bishops at Vatican abuse summit: ‘Will you also be silent?’


VATICAN, February 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, the two remaining dubia cardinals, wrote an open letter to the Presidents of the worldwide Bishops’ Conferences meeting in the Vatican for the Summit on sexual abuse. “The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the Church,” they write, “promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.” The Church hierarchy, however, wishes…Continue Reading

Vatican sex abuse cover-up unravels as prosecutors home in on bishop protected by Pope Francis

February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Argentinean prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation for alleged sexual abuse against a bishop and close personal friend appointed and protected by Pope Francis, according to the attorney general’s office of the province of Salta, Argentina. The target of the investigation is Gustavo Zanchetta, who was named bishop of the diocese of Orán by Pope Francis in 2013. Zanchetta suddenly fled his diocese and resigned from his office in July…Continue Reading

McCarrick laicized by Pope Francis


Vatican City, Feb 16, 2019 / 01:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered this week the laicization of Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, and a once powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles in the U.S. and around the world. The decision followed an administrative penal process conducted by the CDF, which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament…Continue Reading

Daleiden decries gov’t ‘collusion’ with Planned Parenthood in body parts case

SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life advocate David Daleiden decried what he said was “collusion” that he witnessed happening in court yesterday between California’s deputy attorney general and abortion organizations.

Bishop Schneider: Abuse summit will be ‘doomed’ if it doesn’t address homosexuality

KAZAKHSTAN, February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan said that the upcoming Vatican abuse summit is “doomed to failure” if the “predominant role” of homosexuality in the crisis is not addressed. “If the upcoming Summit on Clerical Sexual Abuse in the Vatican will not address the issue of the moral relativism and the non-belief in the perennial validity of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue as the deepest cause of clerical…Continue Reading


Supreme Court . . . Blocks Law Regulating Louisiana Abortion Doctors

By CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — The Supreme Court has blocked from taking effect a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to hold admitting privileges at hospitals nearby to abortion clinics. The court issued a stay on Thursday evening, February 7. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted a temporary stay blocking the law…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The Exhumation Of The Equal Rights Amendment

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is a professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the…Continue Reading

God Counts The Tears Of Women

By DONALD DeMARCO The Talmud states that God counts the tears of women. This is a beautiful statement and underscores the compassion that God has for all women. Moreover, it is a compassion that should be shared by men, for the same text warns men that “they do not cause their wives pain.” Rabbi Chaim…Continue Reading

Abortion And The Green New Deal… De-Developing And Dehumanizing The United States

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of Creators Syndicate — — distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + Do you know who said the following? “If you further decided to buy a small car that would last 30 years, be easily repairable and…Continue Reading

Has Trump Found The Formula For 2020?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN (Editor’s Note: This column was released February 8, before further developments in Virginia.) + + + His State of the Union address, say the two networks, met with the approval of 76 percent of all viewers — 97 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents, and 30 percent of Democrats. Seventy-two…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Cardinal Mueller Issues Manifesto . . . A Quasi Correction Of Pope Francis’ Pontificate

By JOHN-HENRY WESTEN and MAIKE HICKSON (LifeSiteNews) — Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope. The cardinal intended to release the manifesto on February 10. That date is the eve of the…Continue Reading

Be Like God And Love Your Enemies

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23 1 Cor. 15:45-49 Luke 6:27-38 In the second reading today St. Paul teaches there are two Adams, the first Adam is of Earth, the second, Jesus, is from Heaven. St. Paul points out that the natural came first, then the spiritual, so…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Men Are Not Women” And Other Inconvenient Facts

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Of course men are not women, you might respond — it’s a matter of fact. You can certainly say that for yourself if you so choose, but you cannot say it for everyone. Not anymore. The politically correct absconding from the use of reason is exploding into a political and social lobby of ever-increasing proportions.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Some words of wisdom from Fr. George Rutler in the parish bulletin of The Church of St. Michael in New York City: “The other day, intemperate journalists accused youths from a Catholic high school in Covington, Ky., of making racial threats against an elderly Native American during the March for Life. Videos proved that there was no truth…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen In New Book… Vatican’s China Strategy Was All About Compromise And Surrender

  By MAIKE HICKSON Joseph Cardinal Zen, For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent, Ignatius Press: 2019,; paperback, 153 pages. (LifeSiteNews) — Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen has strongly criticized in a new book the Vatican’s recent dealings with China, stating that the “strategy was wrong,” adding that it was “all about compromise and surrender.” He has…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara

By CAROLE BRESLIN India has almost as many people (1.37 billion) as China (1.42 billion), which has three times the land area. Of the population of India, under three percent are Christian. In Kerala, a state on the southwest coast of India, nearly 20 percent are Christian. Perhaps the greater proportion is a result of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Jacoba Of Settesoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN Two millennia of Catholicism have produced saints from all walks of life: rich and poor — and the wealthy who became poor, such as St. Francis of Assisi who renounced his inheritance, St. Anthony of Egypt who gave his wealth away, and St. Thomas Aquinas who became a poor monk. There have also been those who lived…Continue Reading