A modern examination of conscience. (But not too modern… we’re loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church here!)
When we talk about virtues, we sometimes try to put them into practice in a restrictive sense:
- don’t yell
- don’t gossip
- don’t eat too many sweets.
Even the 10 commandments guide us with “thou shalt not”s.
And that’s a good thing. We need to have healthy boundaries in our lives and avoid things that would harm us physically and spiritually.
But this month’s virtue breaks the mold. Fortitude calls us to action. Fortitude tells us “thou shalt.”
Fortitude is holy courage. It’s the virtue that helps us to go out and do the right thing. To stand up for what’s good. To defend truth.
Fortitude is the virtue of martyrs. Those who made the choice to put God before everything – even their own lives. Those who left behind all trace of fear for the sake of salvation.
This month our goal is to put complacency behind and strive to step out in faith. To pray for the grace to be holy and courageous witnesses of Christ.
This means we’ll challenge ourselves to be active. We’ll look for opportunities to practice virtue. We’ll go out of our way to live our Christian faith, to speak up loud and clear about our beliefs.
Embrace the call to action today. Life a life of fortitude.
Fortitude is the virtue of martyrs: those who chose to put God before everything. Tweet this.
Have Holy Courage
In your words:
- Speak out.
And do it charitably. Admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy. And I know it’s so hard, but there’s so much at stake. Especially in matters of mortal sin, be brave and look out for your neighbor’s eternal salvation. Whether it’s something as small as gossip or stealing paperclips from work, or as big as issues of contraception and abortion. Take action. Speak out against the wrongdoing.
- Speak up.
Be loud and clear about your faith. Often, we’re more open about our faith with our religious friends than with our nonreligious friends. How many times have we kept quiet about religious topics, or skipped saying Grace or making the Sign of the Cross out of fear of making someone uncomfortable? Don’t be afraid to publicly be who you are: a child of God, a faithful follower of Christ. Speak up about God, for God, in defense of God. Pray before meals and defend His Holy Name. Speak up with courage.
In your actions:
- Act with charity.
Make it a point to do something kind for someone unappreciated. Step out and be Christ to others. Offer a smile or a kind word to a stranger. Bring your garbageman a cup of coffee. Stop and talk to the lonely elderly lady at the grocery store. Take a moment to remind someone of their worth and dignity. Spread the Good News of the Gospel through small acts of charity.
- Go out of your way.
Fight the urge to say “no” just because you don’t feel like it. There are so many opportunities for good in our lives that we pass over in carelessness or laziness. It’s time to snap out of our complacency. Time to go the extra mile. To listen to the voice of God inspiring us to give of ourselves. So plan that special surprise for your spouse. Snuggle your child for an extra minute or read that extra book before bed. Fold the laundry with cheer. Do that overdue paperwork. I challenge you to take action. Step out and do good.
In your vocation:
- Fortitude in marriage.
Stick up for your relationship. Persevere in doing the right thing. We have to do the difficult tasks and hard work it takes to maintain a healthy relationship. This month, commit yourself to going the extra mile in your marriage. Respect your spouse’s reasonable requests. Look for opportunities to love and serve your spouse, for the sake of both your sanctification. For the best effects on your marriage, invite your spouse to join you in this virtue challenge.
- Fortitude in single life.
Be intentional about living your vocation. Even if you long for marriage, your “vocation” doesn’t wait until then to start. We all have a call to holiness in every walk of life. Pray and discern how God is calling you to use your gifts and talents for his glory right now. Then go out and do it. Don’t live in fear and waiting. Take action and embrace your vocation today.
In overcoming fear:
- Let go of irrational fear.
We all have fears that are overblown or don’t make sense. Maybe it’s the fear of spiders or snakes. Maybe it’s the worries that keep you up all night. Perhaps you feel called to confront people about their errors, or with difficult topics, but you feel that anxiety gripping you and holding you back. We can’t always change our circumstances. We can’t rid the world of spiders, snakes, worries, or error. But we can always have courage to do the right thing. Let go of your irrational fears. Give them to God, and then step out in action to right wrongs and clear your house and your head of those nasty creepy crawlies.
- Develop a healthy sense of guilt.
One of the things that often paralyzes us is “Catholic guilt.” We’re afraid to do wrong, and we’re overcome with guilt at every mistake. Guilt is good when it motivates us to make a change for the better. But when it keeps us from moving forward, then it’s overstepped its boundaries. Avoid scrupulosity. And when you do have sins on your conscience, take them to confession. Let them go, and then move forward with watchfulness, prayer, and discipline. Have faith in God, and courage to move past your past.
Fortitude is holy courage. It’s the virtue that helps us to go out and do the right thing. Tweet this.
Take the Challenge:
Are you ready to grow in fortitude? Let’s get started! Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare. If you haven’t already, read the fortitude post carefully and reflect on what it means in your life. Print out your materials and place them in convenient places in your home. Join the Virtue Challenge Team on Facebook.
- Every morning, start the day with prayer (find it on your Nightstand Guide).
- Throughout the day, use your Fridge Guide to help integrate fortitude and eliminate fear from your life. Your Fridge guide has brief reminders, and some bonus extras (like an indulgenced prayer – woot!).
- Every evening, pray the nightly Examen (find it on your Nightstand Guide). This is a step-by-step review of your day, including praying for forgiveness, and resolving to do better tomorrow.
- Before confession (or weekly at least), prayerfully read the Examination of Conscience. Reflect, not only on your sins and failings, but also on how God has blessed you with growth in virtue!
This Virtue Challenge is going to change your life! I pray God gives each of you (and me too, I need this) the grace you need to grow in fortitude and to become the saint He’s calling you to be.
Take the Fortitude Virtue Challenge now! Grab some cardstock, print your printables, and get ready for a grace-filled, growth-filled month.
Created in conjunction with Momsters Raising Monsters