Fortitude is the third cardinal virtue, and it’s what enables us to do the right thing, even in the face of adversity. By its very definition and nature, then, it’s not an easy virtue to develop! What can we do?
- Ask for help. Have you noticed that the stories of Jesus’ healings always begin with someone’s request of him, approaching him, or reaching out to him? He wants us to turn to him. He will never leave us bereft.
- Keep asking. Virtues become habits by constant practice. In his exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis calls us to be “firmly rooted in prayer” as we call on the Holy Spirit for courage to live our faith. Can you examine a typical day in your life and see if there are ways you can speak with God more regularly?
- Practice patience. Patience is an integral part of fortitude. Patience leads us to suffer in silence, to cope with tiredness, with other people’s bad tempers, with injustice… and do it all without complaint.
Developing fortitude is not an overnight enterprise: it often takes years to grow into this special kind of courage. Sometimes an image can help: Scripture often speaks of a rock. In one of his parables, Jesus refers to the need to build upon rock, which means not just listening to his words, but making an effort to put them into practice. Starting every day. Starting now.