Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fortitude, Part 1

From A Tour of the Summa, by Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, which, according to the editor, is "a complete, chapter-by-chapter restatement of St. Thomas' work, intended to expose readers to the totality of St. Thomas' thought, and yet be brief enough to fit into one volume."

This book was recommended to me by Fr. Stephen Zigrang. I have never read it all the way through. Instead, it seems to be one of those books that I am content to sample as the need arises, but when it does, it is so helpful. I read about "fortitude" this morning and thought it so appropriate to our times.

The explanation of fortitude is not divided into two parts in the book. That division is my own editing. There are six more statements. I first posted this with the intent of completing 7-12 tomorrow. I've re-thought that, though, and instead recommend that you buy the book. It's published by TAN and sells for $22.50. The link above will take you to the book on Amazon.


1. We speak of fortitude as a virtue. In another place we shall discuss the gift of the Holy Ghost which has the same name. Fortitude is the virtue which enables a person to withstand the greatest difficulties that block him from attaining his true goal.

2. It is the special business of fortitude to stand up to grave difficulties and dangers. Since it it has a special business, a special aim and purpose, it serves good in a special way, and is a special virtue. This means that fortitude is specifically distinct from other virtues, and is a clear-cut virtue on its own account.

3. Fortitude puts down the paralysis of fear that would keep a person from facing up to danger. On the other hand, it moderates daring or courage which, without it, might lead a man to wildly impulsive and ineffective action.

4. In strictest interpretation of its meaning, fortitude is the virtue of bravely facing the danger of death. A man capable of meeting with fortitude this greatest of dangers is not daunted by lesser perils.

5. Therefore, fortitude is a soldierly virtue which faces danger of death in defense of a just cause, whether in actual war, or in the warring we wage in daily life against the enemies of our soul and its salvation. Fortitude is the hero's virtue, the martyr's virtue; it faces death bravely in spite of inner fears. Fortitude strengthens the soldier in war; fortitude helps a man practice religion in the face of of derision and persecution; fortitude enables a person to care for the sick or to bury the dead in spite of the serious risk of deadly infection.

6. The chief act of fortitude is is that of enduring, of bearing up, of seeing the business through. It is not alone the virtue of coming to grips with danger; it is also the
holding on.

No comments: