I know a girl from Kansas that had three friends. One sought Prudence, one Love and the other Courage.
Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger or uncertainty. Did you catch that? It is a CHOICE. Virtues are what you do if you choose to live purpose driven life. It comes in two flavors; Physical and Moral. Physical courage is standing in the face of physical pain, hardship, death , while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
Fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. Courage or fortitude is one of the four cardinal virtues, along with prudence, justice, and temperance. As we know, “Cardinal” in this sense means “pivotal”; because in order to possess any virtue, you must first have a foundation of prudence, temperance, justice and courage.
In The Republic, Plato describes courage as a sort of perseverance. I touch on this in another post titled A Little PP for You. Theologian and Dominican Friar, Thomas Aquinas, held that fortitude or courage was primarily about endurance, not attack. Therefore the main act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers rather than to attack. That means standing tall in the face of adversity, is courage. See how many times in a week you get the opportunity to show your courage (fortitude) by not attacking someone who has attacked you. It is easy to see the courage of first responders but people overlook strength of courage to stand tall when being attacked. HINT: You can defend yourself without attacking. This touches on last week’s post, Retrain Yourself.
Courage is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is the virtue that removes obstacles, the ones that keeps your bad-self from following reason. In other words, when you can delay instant gratification long enough to consider your actions (intellect over emotion), you are showing fortitude. Courage in Christianity is seen when someone displays faith, hope and mercy.
But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (TLB)
Fortitude is the moral virtue of standing firm during difficult times. Not only is it standing firm, but also remaining constant (perseverance) in the pursuit of good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in life. Courage (fortitude) enables you to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It is the rascal that gets you fired up in the defense of a just cause like civil liberty.
Now, more than ever, fortitude is needed. We are called to stand firm and recognize that, no matter how black things may seem, “there is good in this world, and it is worth fighting for.”
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