Friday 1st December 2023

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Virtues Related To Fortitude

October 20, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


How often in the day-to-day trials associated with trying to live an authentically Christian life do we experience sentiments that mirror those of the psalmist when he proclaimed: “I was pushed hard, so that I was falling” (Psalm 118:13a)? Yet, we can always have confidence based on what immediately follows: “But the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song” (Psalm 118:13b-14a).
It is this very verse that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) cites right after defining the cardinal virtue that we began to consider last week: fortitude.
And how fitting it is, for “the moral virtue of fortitude strengthens us so we can face difficulties courageously and overcome temptation energetically. This virtue helps us to face persecutions, to conquer fear in the face of hardship, and even to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel” (The Didache Bible, p. 703).
Indeed, “martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith….[The martyr] endures death through an act of fortitude” (CCC, n. 2473). As expressed by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn in volume 3 of Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Martyrdom…is rightly considered to be the ultimate case of fortitude: better to give up worldly goods and bodily life than to deny God’s love and fidelity” (p. 39).
Pope St. John Paul II wrote eloquently of the value of heroic fortitude lived to the point of martyrdom in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (VS), where he referred to martyrdom as an “outstanding sign of holiness in the Church” (VS, n. 93 § 1). The Vicar of Christ went on to say, however, that “although martyrdom represents the high point of the witness to moral truth, and one to which relatively few people are called, there is nonetheless a consistent witness which all Christians must daily be ready to make, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice” (VS, n. 93 § 2).
Moreover, as St. Thomas Aquinas affirms, “He that stands firm against great things will in consequence stand firm against less things” (Summa Theologiae [STh] II-II, Q. 123, art. 4).
The virtue of fortitude in operation manifests itself in two ways: to attack and to endure. “There will be occasions in which the individual is called upon to defend the good by means of attack,” states Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP, “and there will be times in which the individual cannot attack but must resist by not yielding” (Spiritual Theology [SpT], p. 307).
Perhaps surprisingly to many, fortitude shows itself in daily life most fully in patient endurance.
As Fr. Aumann explains, from a psychological point of view it is easier to attack an evil — especially when the passion of anger is aroused and adrenaline is flowing — than to tranquilly accept and even embrace the suffering that accompanies a terminal illness; or the humiliation and loss of livelihood that results from unjust persecution for standing firm in defense of “politically incorrect” Christian principles (e.g., heroic Christian bakers and florists who steadfastly refuse to compromise by providing services for so-called same-sex marriage ceremonies).
As is the case for all the moral virtues, true fortitude lies in the mean. Opposed by excess is inordinate fearlessness, of taking unreasonable risks disproportionate to the end being sought. An excessively bold or reckless man charges foolhardily into dangers that could have been prudently avoided. Opposed by defect is the vice of cowardice or timidity where one refuses to take a prudent risk or make a prudent sacrifice because of excessive fear.
The cowardly person is so concerned with self-preservation that he becomes crippled with fear in the face of danger — he abandons the greater good due to terror.
The cardinal virtue of fortitude has integral parts which might be described as virtuous habits that are necessary for its full expression. As we saw earlier when treating the virtue of prudence, these integral parts are like the foundation, walls, and roof of a house (cf. STh II-II, Q. 48, art. 1), without which the house would not exist.
St. Thomas names and considers four integral parts of fortitude in his Summa: magnanimity, magnificence, patience, and perseverance — along with the vices opposed to each by defect and excess (see STh II-II, QQ. 128-138).
In last week’s column, we considered magnanimity (“greatness of soul”) which “by its very name denotes stretching forth of the mind to great things” (STh II-II, Q. 129, art. 1). It consists in doing great and honorable things for their own sake, not for accolades — the magnanimous man has little time to worry about personal honor.
“Magnanimity reflects our consideration of the divine spark within us,” says Dr. Kevin Vost, Psy.D, “the recognition that we are greatly blessed by God and should use our powers for the greatest works of good within our capacities” (Understanding Your Ten Talents [UTT], p. 85).
Christ Himself exhorted His followers to be magnanimous: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Heeding the words of the Master and with the help of God’s grace, the magnanimous man strives for perfection to the extent possible in this life. Opposed by excess are the vices of presumption, ambition, and vainglory; opposed by defect is the vice of pusillanimity (“smallness of soul”).
The second integral part of fortitude, magnificence, derives from two Latin words: magnus (“great”) and facere (“to make or do”). In common usage in today’s culture, its meaning is most often associated with rich or splendid display, but as a virtue it is about “making great things, principally through proper expenditure of money” (UTT, p. 88). As expressed by St. Thomas, “it belongs to magnificence to do something great” (STh II-II, Q. 134, art.1, ad 3).
Since there is no greater end than to give greater honor and glory to God, the magnificent man is on the lookout to find ways to make Him more honored and loved. A fitting example from times past are the enormous outlays made in European countries to construct magnificent basilicas and cathedrals, some of which took more than a lifetime to build.
In contemporary times, mind-boggling outlays go rather toward the construction of extravagant stadiums with see-through roofs — at a cost in excess of a billion dollars. Just consider the magnificent cathedral that could be erected and adorned to give honor and glory to our Creator for a fraction of that amount.
Although magnificence does not face up to physical danger per se, it is allied with fortitude in that it demands the surrender of large amounts of one’s possessions. Opposed by defect to the virtue of magnificence is the vice of meanness or miserliness of heart where one cuts corners in order to get by for the least amount possible. By way of excess is the vice of wastefulness, of making outlandish expenditures for garish display that exceeds the value of the outlay.
The third integral part of fortitude, patience, is the virtue that “enables one to bear physical and moral sufferings without sadness of spirit or dejection of heart” (SpT, p. 308). A man is said to be patient because “he behaves in a praiseworthy manner by suffering things which hurt him here and now,” says the Angelic Doctor, “in such a way as not to be inordinately saddened by them” (STh II-II, Q. 136, art. 4, ad 4).
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD sagely states that “just as we need bread to live, so every day, even every moment, we need patience because every day and every moment brings with it its own trial” (Divine Intimacy, p. 874).
The “little way” of St. Thérèse of Lisieux places great emphasis on the practice of patience in all the little occasions of irritation one encounters each day as a means to grow in virtue and charity.
By defect, a vice opposed to patience might be the display of impatience (e.g., lashing out at a person causing a hardship or simply avoiding a difficult situation even though one’s state of life demands that it be faced). Another vice might be resignation — to continue to bear a hardship, but with sorrow, sadness, and in a spirit of defeat. Opposed to patience by excess is impassivity.
As expressed by Deacon Douglas McManaman, “There is nothing praiseworthy about ‘patiently’ enduring harm against others, against the common good, or the divine honor. Such ‘patience’ is merely a front that disguises a cowardly and unjust spirit” (A Treatise on the Four Cardinal Virtues, p. 109).

The Battle For Holiness

The fourth integral part of fortitude, perseverance, “disposes a person to hold steadily to a good purpose, keeping the end steadily in view, despite delays, fatigue, and temptations to indifference” (Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa [ATS], p. 271). In the Christian context, it is an infused virtue by which we overcome the tendency to discouragement due to the sheer length of the spiritual battle for holiness that we encounter as a constant struggle.
In a special category is final perseverance, for “it needs not only habitual grace, but also the gratuitous help of God sustaining man in good until the end of life” (STh II-II, Q. 137, art. 4).
Opposed to perseverance by defect is softness (effeminacy) which “tends to give way under the effort of sustained virtue, even when the stress is slight” (ATS, p. 272). St. Thomas especially applies this vice to those who fail to persevere in the struggle against the allurement of pleasure (cf. STh II-II, Q. 138, art. 1). Opposed by excess is obstinacy (pertinacity) by which one adheres excessively and unreasonably to his own opinion or judgment (cf. STh II-II, Q. 138, art. 2).

+ + +

(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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…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


Today . . .

Pope reportedly confirms he is taking away Burke’s apartment, denies calling him his ‘enemy

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 29, 2023 / 17:31 pm Pope Francis reportedly has confirmed that he plans to take away Cardinal Raymond Burke’s Vatican apartment and salary but denied that he referred to the American prelate as his “enemy,” according to a web post by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh. The pope reportedly announced at a meeting of Vatican heads on Nov. 20 that he intended to take action against Burke, who has publicly criticized some papal initiatives,…Continue Reading

The Pope: “Away with Cardinal Burke’s house and salary”

Vatican sources close to the Daily Compass: Burke was defined as an “enemy” in an announcement made to the Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The cardinal has not yet received a formal notice, but considering precedents, it is unlikely to be just a threat, which nonetheless would be very serious.

Bishop Barron in ‘frank disagreement’ with Synod on Synodality’s report on ‘development of moral teaching’

Bishop Robert Barron has said that he is in “frank disagreement” with the final report of the Synod on Synodality’s claim that advances in the sciences require an evolution in the Church’s moral teaching on human sexuality. In a reflection published this week, the bishop of Winona–Rochester, Minnesota, said it is “troubling” to see how members of the German bishops’ conference are already “using the language of the synod report to justify ma

">Interview with Deacon Fournier – Great Testament to Bishop Strickland

Cardinal Müller on Strickland’s Sacking: “It’s an abuse of the Divine Right of the Episcopate.”

What is being done to Bishop Strickland is terrible, an abuse of the divine right of the episcopate. If I could advise Mgr Strickland, he should absolutely not resign, because then they could wash their hands of his innocence. [Note: Which is why Strickland refused to resign, and was sacked.] According to the commandment of justice, a bishop can only be removed by the Pope if he has been guilty of something evil (heresy, schism,…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading