Gifts of the Holy Spirit // Fortitude

Images by Beautiful Light Photography

Images by Beautiful Light Photography

Bible verse: Isaiah 11:2‐3

Bible verse: Philippians 4:13

Bible verse: 2 Corinthians 4:16‐18

Bible verse: Romans 5:3‐5

Several years ago, I finally became fed up with an unhealthy habit of mine. I felt so weak and powerless against it, but I had finally had enough. In an act of desperation and low self‐esteem, I silently cried out to God, "PLEASE God help me! I can't do this. I'm so helpless on my own."

Then I realized something. That's exactly what God was waiting for me to do. If I cannot even breathe without God's sustaining grace, why should I expect to overcome any difficulty or habitual sin without His grace? And if I can't overcome them without that grace, why not specifically ask for it? From that day forward, my prayer changed. My disposition changed. I realized my helplessness and weakness when I tried to do everything on my own, and I specifically invited Christ to give me the grace to overcome temptation and sin. And guess what? It worked.

Philippians 4:13 says,

"I can do all things in [Christ] who strengthens me."

Notice that it does not say,

"I can do all things by my own strength so God is proud of me."

So why is it that there are some things we accept as needing God's divine providence, but when it comes to our attachments and sins and resentments and fears we seem to forget this verse? The gift of fortitude is that gift which allows us to face extraordinary situations, harsh and painful experiences, and obstacles that keep us from a deeper relationship with God.

Pope Francis has good advice.

"Dear friends, sometimes we may be tempted to allow ourselves be overtaken by laziness or despondency, especially when faced with the hardships and trials of life. In these cases, do not lose heart, but invoke the Holy Spirit, so that with the gift of fortitude He can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following Jesus."

Do not lose heart! In 2 Corinthians 4:16‐18 and Romans 5:3‐5 we find encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of fortitude. What is it in your life right now that you are trying to do on your own? Have you invited God to be your strength? Have you welcomed him into those parts of your heart with true humility?

I challenge you to find at least one thing every day that you can pray with St. Paul, as in his prayer in Philippians 4:13.

For example:

"I can wake up to my alarm right away through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can speak more lovingly to my family through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can live a chaste life through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can choose to eat healthy right now through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can choose to eat right now through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can study for my exam through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can desire holiness through Christ who strengthens me."

"I can love God more than sex/alcohol/porn/attention/straight A's/etc. through Christ who

strengthens me."

Do not lose heart.

Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my heart, that I may see the things that are of God.

Come Holy Spirit, into my mind that I may know the things that are of God.

Come Holy Spirit, into my soul, that I may belong only to God.

Sanctify all that I think, say, and do, that all may be for the glory of God.

Reflection: Is there something you are struggling with to the point of despondency? Have you considered giving up?

Reflection: Can you think of a time in your past when you relied on the Holy Spirit to give you fortitude?

Act: Turn to Philippians 4:13. Pray with St. Paul his prayer, substituting something you are struggling with. Continue to pray the prayer to the Holy Spirit.