Fear and Fortitude

Pentecost is one of my favorite Holy Days. It is called the ‘birthday of the Church’. But the origins of Pentecost dates back to Moses and the giving of Torah (the first five books of the Bible) on Mt. Sinai. It was and is now celebrated fifty days after Passover by those of the Jewish faith at the time of the early harvest in Israel (May/June). As Passover coincides with Holy Week for Christians, Pentecost comes fifty days after Passover and also after Easter. Without Pentecost we would not have the Christian Church.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus comes walking on the Sea of Galilee and says “Do not be afraid…” to His fearful disciples. After Jesus death and even after His resurrection and appearances to them, the apostles huddled in fear in the Upper Room. At Pentecost He sent the Holy Spirit that came as tongues of fire and those cowards in the Upper Room were baptized and received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, one of which was fortitude.

“The gift of fortitude is bestowed upon us by God through the Holy Spirit at our confirmation; the moral virtue of fortitude is ‘acquired by human effort’ according the the Catechism of the Catholic church.”

In his Summa Theologica St. Thomas Aquinas says; In strictest interpretation of its meaning, the virtue of fortitude is bravely facing the danger of death. A man capable of meeting with fortitude this greatest of dangers is not daunted by lesser perils.

We are facing constant reinforcement of fear from the onset of the covid panic: fear of people giving us the virus, fear of nuclear war from our enemies, fear of inflation, fear of going to church, fear of speaking our views on abortion, masks, vaccines, BLM, gender confusion, fear of the “dark winter’ and the great reset.

Another of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is Fear of God, Holy fear in which we see ourselves as finite beings who were graciously given the greatest gift, eternal life. We need to constantly ask ourselves: “Whom shall I fear?” The Apostles went on to spread the Gospel in spite of the danger of death and the Church exists after more than 2000 years in spite of everything.

To be continued…

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