The Gifts of the Holy Ghost (7): The Gift of Fortitude

Source: FSSPX News

Jesus in the Garden of Olives

While the Church and her children celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Ghost during this octave of Pentecost, FSSPX.News offers an opportunity to discover a little better these seven gifts granted by God’s goodness to our souls in order to sanctify them. After meditating on the gifts of understanding, wisdom, knowledge, counsel, and piety, we continue with the gift of fortitude.

The consideration of this gift will be a good opportunity to (re)discover that Jesus Christ, our Savior and Model, possessed all the gifts of the Holy Ghost and used them, just as He personally possessed divine grace in His human soul.

Fortitude is a certain firmness of soul to face or endure grave evils. But human strength is very limited and fragile, especially when called to persevere in the struggle and overcome all the perils of this life, especially in order to reach our eternal end, which presupposes that we have triumphed over all evils. For all this the common virtue of fortitude is not enough.

The cardinal virtue of fortitude proceeds according to the limited mode proper to man, while presupposing the divine assistance received and limited according to this mode. But the gift of fortitude is so clothed with virtue from above that it makes the power of God its own, so to speak, and, repelling all natural weakness, operates by the sole virtue of divinity.

Thus the virtue and the gift of fortitude differ as human strength and divine strength. The gift of fortitude perfects and aids the virtue, wherever it could fail.

Certainly, the virtue of fortitude can face even death, by reason of the supernatural end and by supernatural assistance. Nevertheless it faces the most terrible hardships with a certain weakness and a certain trembling on the part of the effective subject.

It is precisely this weakness and this trembling which the gift of fortitude abolishes, because it operates by the motion and impulse of the Holy Ghost, and clothes us with virtue from on high, so that through this gift we act as if we are supported by immovable stone. The gift of fortitude inclines in such a way toward arduous works that it strengthens the weakness of the subject, through the virtue of the Holy Ghost, who assists the soul.

Thus it was that Jesus Christ first trembled in His passion and showed the weakness of human nature, with the virtue of fortitude proceeding according to the human mode--compatible with these tremblings; but having resorted to God, He immediately returned, through the operation of the gift and divine strength, to his perfect resoluteness.

The impulse and motion of the Holy Ghost, upon which the gift of fortitude relies, consist of a new constancy and a new firmness of soul, produced by the Holy Ghost, which makes man capable of overcoming any difficulty.

To What Does the Virtue of Fortitude Extend?

St. Thomas in his Commentary on the Sentences expressly says that: “although the gift of fortitude regards especially the most arduous works, nevertheless it also extends to other difficulties which the virtue of fortitude generally bears, but not in the same way. [...] The gift of fortitude extends to all the difficulties which can be encountered in human life.”

But although the gift of fortitude can correct every weakness of the subject, it does not follow that it is always accompanied by the effective assistance of grace; because, although it can, if we consider the motion of the Holy Ghost, strengthen every infirmity, nevertheless it does not always do so, because of the weakness and changeability of our will which hinders it, by not having enough recourse to God.

According to John of St. Thomas, The Gifts of the Holy Ghost