Pope Francis has continued his catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this week discussing the fourth gift, fortitude.
During today’s General audience, Francis explained that the gifts of the Spirit – wisdom, understanding and counsel – “enable us to contemplate God’s loving plan and to know his will,” but through the gift of fortitude, “we receive the strength to do God’s will in spite of our own natural weakness and limitations.”
“In our everyday life, in difficult times it would do us good to say this ‘I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me,’” said the Pope. “The Lord always gives us strength, the Lord never gives us more than we can handle, ‘I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.'”
The Holy Father acknowledged that “sometimes we may be tempted to allow ourselves to be overtaken by laziness or despondency, especially when faced with the hardships and trials of life.”
Yet, he said, “do not lose heart, but invoke the Holy Spirit.” In doing so, “He can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following Jesus.”
The Pontiff stressed three aspects of this gift: the first helped faithful grasp its importance, the second showed its power to help us, and the third explained how often it’s needed.
In the parable of the sower and the seed, the Pontiff first showed “Jesus teaching us that the seed of God’s word sown in our hearts can encounter not only interior resistance,” but also be “choked by life’s sufferings and trials.”
Francis says this analogy proves that with fortitude the Holy Spirit “frees the soil of our heart from torpor, uncertainties and all the fears that can stop it, so that the Word of God can be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful way.” This is a “real help,” he said, as it “gives us strength and frees us from many obstacles.”
Turning to the second aspect, the Pope said “there are numerous Christians who continue to celebrate and witness to their faith with deep conviction and serenity, and resist even when they know that this can result in them paying a very high price.”
Fortitude gives them the power to do this, he said, noting in “difficult moments and extreme situations” the gift of fortitude is “manifested in an extraordinary, exemplary way.”
He told Christians to open their eyes to the “every day saints! Hidden saints among us! They have the gift of fortitude in carrying on in their duty as people, mother, father, brother, sister, citizen.”
Encouraging Christians to follow suit, he asked: “If they do this, then why not me?”
Noting the third thing to realize, Francis said that “we must not think that the gift of fortitude is only necessary on some occasions or in certain situations,” but, rather it must be the “base note of our being Christians, in our ordinary everyday lives.”
Recalling how the Apostle Paul was propelled, he quoted Paul’s words: “‘I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.'”
“Whenever we feel weary or discouraged along the journey of faith,” the Pontiff noted, “let us ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the gift of fortitude, to refresh us and to guide our steps with renewed enthusiasm.” (D.C.L.)
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