7th Sun Easter B 2018: FORTITUDE
We can say to ourselves today Happy Birth Day to the Church!
Pentecost for the Jews was one of three days of obligation. On Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover, the Jews were to come to Jerusalem and make an offering of their first spring fruits that God has blessed them with. This is why there is note in the Acts of the Apostles of so many people being in Jerusalem. When Peter spoke, they all heard him speak in their own tongue and dialect. How wondrous! We still celebrate that gift of tongues today in the fact that the Good News is proclaimed in every nation throughout the earth.
What is it that changed the Apostles from being cowards to men of dauntless courage. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Today we hear of their fearlessness, the Spirit’s gift of Fortitude. What is Fortitude?
Let us begin with what it is not: It is not just mere strength, or endurance, or determination. It is not mere boldness like being in another’s face without fear or disregard for the other or the consequences of one’s actions.
The Spiritual Gift of Fortitude enables a person to live their faith and the other virtues heroically. It is centered on love. Without love any gift of the Spirit becomes worldly and selfishly motivated. The Spirit moves us to use His gifts for the glory of God. Love empowers us to do all things with joy. With a love of God and for God all we do is directed to serve Him who loves us. Fortitude ennobles us to act as Jesus did in the face of opposition and even death for the glory of the Father.
Fortitude charges us with strength to resist evil, to overcome our lukewarmness, and persevere to everlasting life. Fortitude brings a confidence of success and certain hope, despite the most difficult circumstances. Some examples of this are Maxamilian Kolbe who promptly gave his life for another knowing it meant suffering a horrible and torturous death, or St. Theresa of Calcutta who generously spent her whole life in her work amongst the poor despite its dangers, her tiredness and the poverty she lived in.
Fortitude keeps us determined to keep a spiritual regimen. It helps us to persevere:
- In making sure we keep tuned to our spiritual disciplines in our daily prayer.
- in our faithful attendance at Mass on Sunday and even daily Mass.
- In keeping faithful to a nightly examination of our hearts.
- It also helps us to be disciplined in spiritual sacrifices such as fasting, devotions, and charity.
- It strengthens us to stay away from sinful situations, and to repent quickly when we sin, and keeps us steadfast in the regular commitment to monthly confession.
When we work at being faithful in the small and daily things it strengthens us to be faithful in the great and unexpected things.
Fortitude graces us to desire to remain faithful to God and our salvation, and spurs us to desire and act for the salvation of all. It is a great gift to pray for to help us be faithful in each of our vocations: in our single life as we are called to remain chaste, in marriage to be faithful to the promises we have vowed and the person we are vowed to, and in our choice to serve the Lord in a vocation to the Deaconate, Priesthood or Religious Life.
Jesus did not leave the disciples on their own to carry out this commission, rather, he sent the Holy Spirit to be an advocate for them and with them.
This is Jesus’ vision for the Church: to carry on the movement, the work he started, so that the good news could be proclaimed to the whole creation.
The same mission is for all the baptized. We are called to share and carry out in our lives, our parish, our places of work, our families, and our neighborhoods. It includes calling others to be disciples, witnessing by our lives, teaching the faith, celebrating the sacraments, and loving one another.
So what is our task:
- To open our hearts to realize . . . to wonder at . . . and to accept the mission given to us at our Baptism
- To give our hearts to Jesus, so that He and the Holy Spirit may work in us and through us, in whatever way God needs, to carry out our part of the mission.
- All of this will lead us to be missionary parishes in a missionary diocese.
Please take time to bring home and read today’s bulletin insert. It is the Bishop’s message regarding the establishment of a Family of Parishes Commission. This week’s focus is on Evangelization and our call to Mission. This is one of five inserts.
Lord, bless us with your strength, and the Spirit’s Gift of Fortitude.