By John Murphy
fortitude and faithfulness: Fortitude is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Faithfulness is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit called faith in some translations of Galatians 5. The Greek word (pronounced "pistis") translates to faith, faithfulness and honesty. For us, who speak English, we get three fruits for the Greeks one!
The new Catechism (1805) reminds us that "Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called 'cardinal'; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, FORTITUDE, and temperance. 'If anyone loves righteousness, (Wisdom's) labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage. [Wis 8:7 .] These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture."
Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good., according to the Catechism (1808) It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. 'The Lord is my strength and my song.' [Ps 118:14 .] 'In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' [Jn 16:33 .]
An example of the gift of fortitude working in our daily lives, would be when a person will continue doing what the Lord wants in the face of opposition and adversity. Faithfulness is similar but different in that the person does not abandon the Lord for other pursuits and interests. It is a response to enticements rather than opposition. Both are two aspects of the fruits of the Holy Spirit working in us.
The fruits of the Spirit are perfection's that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: 'charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, FAITHFULNESS, modesty, self-control, chastity (Gal 5:22-23. Also the new Catechism 1832)"
For many of us who have found the Lord and have served him for a long time, this Gift of Fortitude and this Fruit of Faithfulness are true marvels of the work of the Holy Spirit. When we first received the Lord in our hearts, when we converted, when we were baptized in the Spirit, when we received a special healing or Charismatic gift, we felt an emotional high along with the spiritual high. Many continue to go about seeking that experience again and again and are disappointed that everything seems the same as before.
We need to balance our descriptions of that moment in our lives with the day to day constancy of living in the presence of the Lord. Many of us do so by telling how the Lord touches us today in little ways or used us in his service.
We can share how in the face of opposition from our friends and acquaintances and even family members we have remained committed to the Lord and how the Lord has honored it. We can share the times that we were dried up in prayer and felt like the Lord did not even exist and how he honored that with showing himself to us in a new way in the end. Many have shared the times they have felt like staying away from prayer meetings for no really good reason and that when they went, the Lord blessed them and spoke to them more powerfully or used them to reach someone in particular.
Faithfulness is a quality of God that is mentioned so many times in the Old Testament that you might title it, The Story of the Faithful God. In the New Testament, Jesus seeks faithfulness in his followers. In the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom, the oil in the lamps is faithfulness (Matthew 25: 1-13). In Luke 12:35-38, Jesus says: "Let your belts be fastened around your waist and your lamps be burning ready. Be like men awaiting their masters return from a wedding, so that when he arrives and knocks, you will open for him without delay. It will go well with those servants whom the master finds wide-awake on his return. I tell you, he will put on an apron, seat them at table, and proceed to wait on them. Should he happen to come at midnight or before sunrise and find them prepared, it will go well with them." Jesus knew that we would have to wait on His return and that in our daily lives, in little ways, we really have no concrete way to know that he is really coming for us. We live our lives by faith, trusting in him and what he has promised. he promises us that he will wait on those servants he finds waiting wide-awake and prepared.
In this Year of the Holy Spirit, the Lord is calling us to be faithful to him, to continue in our service to him, to not falter in our trust in him. We will see the glory of His working through us and among us. This has been a century in which the People of God have been assaulted from persecutions and wars and have been given every manner of pleasure and enticement to give up on God, to abandon Jesus Christ. But there have been those heroic few and many more quiet sufferers and faithful ones who have continued to serve the Lord. As this century closes, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! Let all who hear answer, Come! Let those who are thirsty come forward; let all who desire it accept the gift of life-giving water." (Rev. 22:17)
the year 2000 might not be the year Jesus returns in glory on the clouds of heaven, but from Pope John Paul II the Holy Spirit wants to launch a period of evangelization. Even our fellow Christian senses it. The Holy Spirit will enlist the help of those faithful servants with their belts secure and the lamps lit. Are you ready for some evangelization?
Are you ready to go wherever the Spirit leads you?
John Murphy is a member of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Charismatic Renewal Board and is from St. Gregorys Parish, San Mateo. He is an Electronics Instructor at OICW, Menlo Park.
Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the Septembert 1998 edition of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.