Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wednesday General Audience with the Pope 04.10.2024


Pope at Audience: Grace-sustained fortitude helps us daily

During his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechetical series on virtues and vices, focusing on the cardinal virtue of fortitude, saying that sustained by grace, it can fuel our efforts daily and bring us closer to God.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

May Jesus and the saints' examples, inspire us to rediscover fortitude, which will, with God's grace, help us in our daily efforts...

Pope Francis gave this encouragement during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.

This week, the Pope continued his catechetical series on vices and virtues. After months dedicated to the vices, he transitioned to discussing virtues, thus far focusing on prudence, patience, justice, and now, fortitude.

The Catechism describes the cardinal virtue of fortitude as “the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.” 

Strengthens resolve, overcomes obstacles

Turning to the virtue, the Pope highlighted how it strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life, and enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions.” 

"It is the most 'combative' of the virtues," the Pope said, as he recalled that prudence, was primarily associated with man's reason, and that justice, had found its abode in the will, while this third virtue, he said, "is often linked by scholastic authors to what the ancients called the “irascible appetite.'”

Ancient thought, the Pope said, did not imagine a man without passions, lamenting that, "he would be a stone."

The passions are not necessarily "the residue of a sin," he said, but, he insisted, "they must be educated, channelled, purified with the water of Baptism, or better with the fire of the Holy Spirit."

"A Christian without courage, who does not turn his own strength to good, who does not bother anyone," Pope Francis said, "is a useless Christian."

The Pope went on to observe how both the Greek philosophers and Christian theologians recognized a twofold development in the virtue of fortitude, one passive and the other active.

Within ourselves

Turning to the more passive aspect, the Pope addressed when fortitude is directed within ourselves.

"There are internal enemies we must defeat, which go by the name of anxiety, anguish, fear, guilt," the Pope said, calling them "all forces that stir in our innermost selves and in some situations paralyse us."

"How many fighters succumb before they even begin the challenge! Fortitude is first and foremost a victory against ourselves."

Most of the fears that arise within us, he observed, are unrealistic, and do not end up happening anyway. "It is better, then," he said, "to invoke the Holy Spirit and face everything with patient fortitude: one problem at a time, as we are able, but not alone!"

"The Lord is with us, if we trust in Him and sincerely seek the good," the Holy Father reassured, saying, "in every situation we can count on God's providence to shield and armour us."

“The Lord is with us, if we trust in Him and sincerely seek the good. Then in every situation we can count on God's providence to shield and armour us.”

Active aspect

The Pope then pointed out the second, "more active" nature of fortitude.

As well as internal trials, there Pope said there are "external enemies," which are the trials of life, persecutions, difficulties that we did not expect and that surprise us.

"Indeed," he said, "we can try to predict what will happen to us, but to a large extent reality is made up of imponderable events, and in this sea sometimes our boat is tossed about by the waves. Fortitude then makes us resilient sailors, who are not frightened or discouraged."

Fortitude, he said, is a fundamental virtue because it takes the challenge of evil in the world seriously.

Cries out against evils

He lamented that some pretend it does not exist, "that everything is going fine," that "human will is not sometimes blind, that dark forces that bring death do not lurk in history."

"But it suffices," he said, "to leaf through a history book, or unfortunately even the newspapers, to discover the nefarious deeds of which we are partly victims and partly perpetrators: wars, violence, slavery, oppression of the poor, wounds that have never healed and continue to bleed."

The virtue of fortitude, he said, "makes us react and cry out an emphatic 'no' to all of this."

"There is a need," he observed, "for someone who can rouse us from the soft place in which we have lain down, and make us resolutely repeat our 'no' to evil and to everything that leads to indifference."

Pope Francis concluded, by praying, "Let us therefore rediscover in the Gospel the fortitude of Jesus, and learn it from the witness of the saints."

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