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January Virtue: Fortitude Being brave and strong in the face of trials
All of us have experienced moments of fear. Sometimes we wish we were brave, but it just doesn't seem possible. We avoid the person who scares us, procrastinate on the project that seems too difficult, or leave a friend hanging when they need our help. In these moments that we must remember the power of grace. Often we put up a tough front and hide our weaknesses because we worry about what others will think of us. It is freeing to recognize the fact that all of us are weak, so there's no need to hide it. When we recognize our weakness, we realize not only how much we need God's help but we also see how strong He is, and how much He loves us. In recognizing our weakness and relying on God's strength, we find true freedom, and can say with Saint Paul, "I will gladly boast of my weaknesses...for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good...It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause" (paragraph 1808).
Sometimes we can describe behaviors as passive, assertive, or aggressive. To be assertive means to get involved and defend a just cause, and can be a type of fortitude. Aggressive behavior tries to overpower another person, and doesn't respect boundaries or the dignity of the person; obviously, this is the opposite of charity. What is not so obvious is that passive behavior can also be the opposite of charity. When we see others being hurt or misled, we must pray for the grace to be strong enough to defend what is right.
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, Nashville, TN