There are times, when the Holy Spirit requires from a Christian something beyond interior resistance of the enemies of his soul: he must make an outward protestation against error and evil, as often as position or duty demands it. On such occasions, he must bear to become unpopular, and console himself with the words of the apostle: “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10) But the Holy Ghost will be on his side; and finding him resolute in using His gift of fortitude, not only will He give him a final triumph, but He generally blesses that soul with a sweet and courageous peace, which is the result and recompense of a duty fulfilled.
Thus does the Holy Ghost apply the gift of fortitude, when there is a question of a Christian’s making resistance. But, as we have already said, He imparts also the energy necessary for bearing up against the trials, which all must go through who would save their souls. There are certain fears, which damp our courage, and expose us to defeat. The gift of fortitude dispels them, and braces us with such a peaceful confidence, that we ourselves are surprised at the change.
Look at the martyrs: not merely at such an one as Saint Mauritius, the leader of the Theban legion, who was accustomed to face danger on the battlefield; but at Felicitas, a mother of seven children; at Perpetua, a high-born lady with everything this world could give her; at Agnes, a girl of thirteen; and at thousands of others like them; and say, if the gift of fortitude is not a prompter of heroism.
Where is the fear of death — that death the very thought of which is sometimes more than we can bear? And what are we to say of all those lives spent in self-abnegation and privation with a view to make Jesus their only treasure and to be more closely united with Him? What are we to say of those hundreds and thousands of our fellow-creatures who shun the sight of a distracted and vain world, and make sacrifice their rule? Whose peacefulness is proof against every trial, and whose acceptance of the cross is as untiring as the cross itself is in its visit? What trophies are these of the Spirit of fortitude! and how magnificent is the devotedness He creates for every possible duty! Oh! truly man of himself is of little worth/ but how grand when under influence of the Holy Ghost! …