Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pope Francis: Fortitude Holds The Key

The Holy Father, in the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience, mentioned the first three gifts of the Holy Spirit considered during the previous weeks: wisdom, understanding and counsel, and went on to talk about the fourth gift, fortitude. 

To explain the importance of this gift, he offered the example of the parable of the sower. The seeds which fall on the road are eaten by birds, and those which fall among the stones dry out; only those that fall on good soil grow and bear fruit.

The sower is the Father, who sows the seeds of His Word. “The seeds often encounter the aridity of our heart and, even when accepted, risk remaining sterile. With the gift of fortitude, however, the Holy Spirit wakes the ground of our heart from its torpor, uncertainty and all the fears that may hold it back, so that the Word of the Lord may be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful manner”. The Pope spoke about all those difficult moments and extreme situations in which the gift of fortitude manifests itself in an extraordinary way, and remarked that the Church is “resplendent with the witness of many brothers and sisters who have not hesitated to give their lives in order to remain faithful to the Lord and to His Gospel”, and that nowadays there are still many Christians who offer witness to their faith in perilous circumstances. 

He added, “We all know people who have experienced difficult situations and great suffering. But, think of these men, these woman, who lead difficult lives, who struggle to maintain their families, to bring up their children: they do all of this because the spirit of fortitude helps them. ... These brothers and sisters of ours are saints, everyday saints, saints who are concealed among us; they have the gift of fortitude that allows them to carry out their duties as persons, as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and citizens. … And it is good for us to think about these people: if they do all this, if they can do it, why can't I? It is good for us to ask the Lord for the gift of fortitude”.

However, “it should not be thought that the gift of fortitude is necessary only on some occasions or in particular situations. This gift must constitute the base note of our Christian being, nurturing in us a sanctity lived in the ordinariness of our daily life”. Pope Francis commented that the phrase of the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. 

Before concluding, the Pontiff added that “at times we are tempted by idleness or we are discouraged, especially when faced with the burdens and trials of life. In these cases, we must not lose heart, but must instead invoke the Holy Spirit, so that the gift of fortitude might lift our hearts and transmit new strength and enthusiasm to our life and to our following of Jesus”.

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