Welcome to the second week of Lent. This week the virtue to consider is the virtue of fortitude. My understanding of fortitude has been basic stick-with-it-ness. But as you can see by St. Augustine's quote above, fortitude is a little more.
In Fr. Ripperger's conference on this virtue, he breaks the virtue down into five integral parts. Let's consider how each of these integral parts can apply to marriage in a quick summary here.
The first integral virtue of fortitude is magnanimity. Fr. Ripperger says this is the desire for greatness. Do you desire a great marriage or do you just want get through each day without an argument? The world needs great marriages. Why not be one of them? Couples who greatly desire to have a great marriage will naturally desire great families too. Then great families will create great communities which will create great cities, and so on and so on. As you have read here before, one of our favorite quotes of Pope St. John Paul II is, "As goes the family, so goes the nation, and so goes the world in which we live." Aspire to a great marriage by growing in fortitude and you will change the world.
The second integral virtue of fortitude is magnificence. This sounds like it should be the same thing as the first integral virtue, but it is a bit different. Where magnanimity is to desire greatness, magnificence is to do great things. That thought might bring some anxiety because we are all so busy and we think that we don't have time to do great things. But you are already doing them. If you are working on having a holy and happy marriage, you are doing something great! You simply need to make a tiny change and that is in your thinking. When you get up one more morning to go to work, embrace it as something great that you are doing for your marriage and family. When you wash one more dish, or load of laundry, or change one more diaper, do it with the recognition that this is the greatness that you can do for your family at this moment. Greatness doesn't have to be something everyone else sees, but only God sees your gift, so give it with a sense of greatness. Mother Teresa said it best when she said, "Not all of us can do great things but we can all do small things with great love." That is greatness!
The third integral virtue of fortitude is patience. Isn't this something that everyone prays to have? It is explained as the ability to suffer evils well. That puts a different thought on it. It isn't simply waiting quietly at a red light when you're already ten minutes late. It's when your spouse comes home after a really rough day and spouts nothing but negative and grouchiness. It's learning to let that bounce off and not seep into your heart causing hurt and possibly arguments. How might you do that? Learn some quick and short prayers that you can send up asking for spiritual protection against the evil one who trying to get your dander up. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" is a long-time favorite. You're calling on the Holy Family to help you, and they usually do!
Moving to the fourth integral virtue of fortitude, we will hear about perseverance. Fr. Ripperger says this is persisting in the good until you get there. This is more of what I thought fortitude was all along, sticking with something until you meet your goal. We can see that this is required in marriage, because it is a sacrament that is indissoluble. But even in the day-to-day when we are going through a tough time in our marriage, our family, or our personal life, we know that our marriage is a good given to us by God and sealed in a sacrament, so we persevere through that tough time, maybe with some help, to eventually arrive at that good again. If fact, often times the good is even better than before. We become closer as husband and wife as we become "one."
Finally, the fifth integral virtue of fortitude is longevity. This goes along with perseverance. It is the ability to wait for the good. In our society, we are taught to "make things happen." That's good to a point, but we also have to understand that "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven," (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Sometimes we are called to just hang on and keep hoping. Even if we think that we are in control of when the good will come, ultimately God is always in control. Draw together in prayer and hope as a couple when you are waiting for the good that the Lord wants to bring to your marriage and family and together shore each other up in expantant joy, growing in the virtue of fortitude.
I hope you all have a blessed second week of Lent and that you will consider where growing in the virtue of fortitude can help your marriage to become happier and holier!
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