The Gift of Fortitude

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Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

John 16:29-33
 
His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
 
Opening Prayer: Lord, I am searching for you and I want to follow you. I know you are here with me in this time of prayer. I want to be filled by your presence. Give me the courage to follow you more closely.
 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Just Tell Me What to Do: Do you wonder if the disciples grew tired of trying to interpret Jesus’s parables to understand what he meant? He had just finished telling them that he came from the Father and will be returning to the Father. The disciples must have thought, “Suddenly everything is clear! Or is it?” Just like the disciples we are never going to completely understand everything before we feel called to do it. By our faith we show that we are willing to follow Jesus. We don’t read the signs and follow the directions. We are often called to follow him without seeing the whole picture. Jesus asked, “Do you believe now?” because he knew the disciples’ faith would be tested during the dark time to come: Jesus’s Passion. He asks us the same question, “Do you believe?”
  2. Scattered and Alone: The “hour” of Jesus’s Passion was approaching, and Jesus foretold that his disciples would fall short in the measure of their friendship with him. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane would test their loyalty, and their love. They fell asleep “from grief” (Luke 22:45) and then scattered when the High Priest’s soldiers came to arrest Jesus with the temple guards. One disciple ran off without clothes (Mark 14:52), Peter struck the High Priest’s servant’s ear (John 18:10), Judas betrayed Jesus with an embrace (Luke 22:48). Are we surprised at the weakness of the disciples’ ability to stay awake and pray with Jesus, to stand beside him during this most difficult time? We fail in similar ways when we neglect our night prayers because we’re too tired; struggle to stay awake for an hour of adoration when it is so quiet and warm in the chapel; or shorten our visit to Jesus in the Tabernacle, pressed for time—and Jesus loves us anyway! “Jesus is not an idea or a feeling or a memory. Jesus is a living ‘person’ always present among us. Love Jesus present in the Eucharist” (St. John Paul the Great).
  3. Conquered the World: By his death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death. He has already won the battle for our souls. This should give us great peace. Our failures to love Jesus shouldn’t dismay us. We know that Jesus is there to pick us up and brush off our scrapes and bruises. When we acknowledge our weaknesses, we have an opportunity to ask for the gift of fortitude. Fortitude “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” (CCC 1808). 

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, sometimes I am discouraged by my failure to stay faithful to my prayer life. Help me to run to you, rather than give in to these feelings. I can count on you to help me if I ask for the grace of fortitude. Please give me the grace of a courageous heart.
 
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace  I will turn over to you an area of my life that I have been struggling with on my own. Jesus, help me to overcome the temptation to give up by your gift of fortitude. Strengthen me.
 
For Further Reflection: Read the section of the Catechism on the virtues.
 
Leah Nguyen, mom to six children ranging in age from nine to twenty-four, resides in Kansas City with her deacon husband. She graduated with a master’s degree in theology from Holy Apostles College in 2019, which helps her lead Bible studies in her parish as well as defend the Catholic faith when talking with her teenagers.

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