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From the Pastor 05/07/17

Thank you from Laura Curran, Executive Director of Pregnancy Center East.

Dear Fr. LaCasse,
I want to thank your parishioners for their continued support for PCE. The generous gift of $5,723.00 is directly impacting lives. In a real sense, you are doing the most important work of PCE by making it possible for us to serve over 500 women struggling with an untimely pregnancy and over 800 families needing material assistance. Since 1982 we have counted on faithful partners like St. Gertrude’s to sustain our ministry through your gifts and prayers. We so appreciate our relationship with your parish. May God abundantly bless St. Gertrude’s for your continued faithfulness.

Congratulations to all our children who are making their First Holy Communion. This is such a special time in their lives. I wish to thank our parents who have entrusted their children to our School and Primary Evangelization Program. Second, I wish to thank all our teachers and administrators for their hard work in preparing the children for their sacraments. May the Lord continue to bless so many who work in the field of evangelization.

This is the third week of my four part series on the Four Cardinal Virtues. The theology presented is of course from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. This week is the second installment with the Virtue of Fortitude.

The Virtue of Fortitude

Fortitude is synonymous with courage and bravery. It must be based on justice. The purpose of fortitude is to remove obstacles to justice. In its extreme form, it is the willingness and readiness to risk one’s life for the sake of that which is just. Justice can be destroyed in two ways. First, because something pleasant draws us away from what is just, and it is the purpose of temperance to govern our desire for pleasure. In the second way, we may be unwilling to do what is just because we face some difficult obstacle. Fortitude enables us to face these difficulties for the sake of justice. A brave person still has fear. Fear is the natural reaction to anything that threatens us, and it is necessary in the face of evil. It is unreasonable to say that we can extinguish all our fears simply by positive thinking. The brave man acts in the face of his reasonable fear.

While the most obvious part of fortitude is to attack evil at the risk of injury or death, the more important part is to stand firm patiently in the face of threats. Fortitude is principally in the mind, because the brave man must hold firmly to the thought of some future good when all he faces in the present is evil. He can and should harness his emotional powers to cooperate. For that reason, the brave person uses his anger in his actions in order to act or to stand firm. Aristotle and the philosophers who followed him said that the virtuous man will be angry, but that his anger must be ruled by reason. The brave man must have an intelligent anger.

The vices opposed to fortitude are cowardice on one end, and fearlessness and recklessness on the other. In the coward, fear overcomes his reason and prevents him from doing what he should do for the sake of justice. The fearless person is not precisely brave, because the brave person knows the risks he faces, has a respectful fear of them, and acts in the face of his fears. The reckless person rushes into battle in an untimely way, ready to risk everything even when this is not the best course.

Perseverance or standing firm is the most necessary part of fortitude, and the most common. According to the philosophers (Aristotle and Aquinas), perseverance is undermined by a soft life. The person who indulges in pleasure and always avoids discomfort will be unwilling to put up with the sadness he must experience if he is to stand firm in difficulty. For this reason, part of military training and monastic life is to do without many of the superfluous comforts of daily life. Also, there is an excess of perseverance which is a vice, and this is obstinacy. A stubborn person may “stick to his guns,” but he is persevering at something even when he should yield to others.

A blessed Easter Week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor