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Monday of the sixteenth week after Pentecost

The gifts of fortitude

From book "Divine Intimacy - Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day Of The Liturgical Year"... Presence of God O Holy Spirit, You know how weak...

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Divine Intimacy

Fr. Gabriel

Presence of God

O Holy Spirit, You know how weak I am; make me strong with Your divine fortitude.


I. Under the influence of the gift of fear, the soul puts itself completely into the hands of God and has but one desire, that of never being separated from Him. The gift of fortitude comes to strengthen it so that it may be always more and more courageous in serving God.

In the measure that the soul advances in the spiritual life, it should follow God’s initiative, and let itself be guided by the Holy Spirit, rather than proceed according to its own ideas; however, its activity is necessary here too, consisting as it does in a prompt, docile adherence to the promptings of the divine Paraclete, accepting and willing all that He does for it and in it. Thus this gift comes to help and to perfect the virtue of fortitude, which, in spite of our good will, is always weak and too often fails us, especially when we are faced with the rigorous demands of a more perfect spiritual life. We need courage to remain faithful to God’s law and the duties of our state—even at the cost of great sacrifice—and to endure patiently the difficulties of life. We need it even more to second the action of God in our soul, to follow faithfully the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and not be frightened by the trials God makes us undergo. He is a kind, gentle Master, but at the same time, a very exacting one, because He cannot lead us to sanctity without asking us for all. And this is just where we most experience our frailty : we feel intuitively what God wants from us, perhaps we see it very clearly, and yet we are not capable, we lack the strength to do it. This is a great grief for a soul of good will, not yet fully matured. It is the condition of human weakness which actual grace and the infused virtue of fortitude can do much to relieve, but which they cannot completely cure, acting as they do by means of our limited faculties. The direct intervention of God Himself is necessary and God does intervene by putting the gift of fortitude into action.

II. The virtue of fortitude and the gift of fortitude have the same end, to strengthen us in the spiritual life, but they differ as to the manner in which they act. The virtue acts in us by means of our own efforts, sustained, certainly, by grace, but yet these efforts are always human efforts; hence, even though they are supernatural, they must necessarily adapt themselves to our human way of acting; consequently, they will always be affected by our limitations. On the other hand, the gift—like all the gifts of the Holy Spirit—is supernatural not only in itself, but also in its activation. In fact, instead of being put into action by us—as is the case with the virtue—it is activated by God Himself. By means of the virtue and using our good will, the little sister of grace, it is we who try to acquire fortitude to make ourselves strong; by means of the gift, however, it is the Holy Spirit who fortifies us interiorly, communicating to us something of His omnipotence, something of His infinite fortitude. Between the fortitude acquired by our own efforts and that infused by the Holy Spirit, there is a difference similar to that which exists between the work of an inexperienced student and that of a skillful artist, or rather, between man’s capacity and power, and God’s. "You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you," Jesus said to the Apostles, ’’and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem" (Act. 1, 8). Indeed, those poor fishermen full of fear, who did not have the courage to accompany Jesus to Calvary, became as brave as lions after the coming of the Holy Spirit, ready to face every danger, even death itself. This shows us how necessary is the gift of fortitude; without it, we would always be vacillating, always uncertain, always inconstant. But the Holy Spirit wills that we should be disposed to receive this gift by practicing the virtue. Our efforts, repeated with humility and constancy, are in themselves a tacit plea for the gift offortitude. Through these efforts we unfurl the sails of our souls to the breeze of the Holy Spirit. It remains for Him to choose the moment to move us, but He will not do this unless He finds us disposed to welcome His divine impulse, that is, applying ourselves to the practice of virtue.


"O eternal God, You are Fortitude and You give fortitude to the soul, making it so strong that neither the devil nor any other creature can take this strength away unless it consents. It will never do so if it clothes itself with Your will, because it is only its own will that weakens it. O eternal God! inestimable love! I, Your creature am wholly incorporated into You, and You into me by creation, by the force of Your will, by the love with which You have created me!" (St. Catherine of Siena).

"Veni, Spiritus fortiludinis, robora me!" Come, O Spirit of fortitude, strengthen me! Grant me the gift of fortitude, to confront with courage, to support with patience, difficult and painful things, overcoming all obstacles. I am in great need of this Your gift, because I am little and weak, and I tire as easily as a child. ‘ But You do not tire, grow weary, and Your wisdom is unsearchable. Give strength to the weary; and to those who have little, increase their strength and vigor. Youths shall faint, and young men shall fall by infirmity. But they that hope in You shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint! ’ (cf. Is. 40, 28-31).

"O Holy Spirit, sustain me and then I shall become strong with Your strength. If You are my strength and my salvation, what shall I fear? My own power cannot sustain me, but I can do all things in You who strengthen me! Come to my aid, and in spite of my weakness, I shall overcome temptations and obstacles; I shall accomplish great things, and strong with Your strength, I shall bear suffering with patience and joy.

"O Holy Spirit, with all my heart I beg this gift; let it make me generous, fearless, loving in sacrifice, virile, desirous of tending to perfection resolutely and wholeheartedly" (Sister Carmela ofthe Holy Spirit, O.C.D.).

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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost