Trusting in God

St. Luke tells us that on one occasion our Lord was preaching by the shore of the Sea of Galilee and so many people wanted to listen to him that he had to ask for help. Some fishermen were washing their nets on the shore. They had finished the bulk of their work and were tidying things up, surely with the idea of getting home as soon as possible to rest. Jesus got into one of the boats, that of Simon, and from there continued speaking to the crowd.

The evangelist does not tell us what our Lord taught. He wants to draw our attention to other aspects that contain important lessons for our Christian life.

Struggle and trust

Perhaps Peter and his companions thought that Jesus, after finishing speaking, would return to shore and go on his way. But instead he turned to them and asked them to take up anew the work they were about to set aside for the day. They were surprised, but Simon had the greatness of soul to overcome his fatigue and reply: Master, we toiled all night and took nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets . [1]

They had worked all night—with nothing to show for it. They knew their work well, since it was their job and they had a lot of experience. But all this had not been enough to guarantee success, and they had returned tired and empty-handed. We can easily imagine their discouragement. Some, overcome by a feeling of uselessness, might even have been thinking of giving up that business entirely.

We know that the narrative ends with an abundant catch of fish. If we look for the difference between their success and the previous night’s failure, the answer is clear: the presence of Jesus. All the other circumstances of the second attempt seem less favorable than those of the earlier one. The nets not fully cleaned, the wrong time of day, the fishermen’s physical and mental exhaustion.…

Our Lord makes use of all this to give them, and us, a very important spiritual lesson: without Christ we can’t achieve anything. Without Christ, our struggle will yield only exhaustion, tension, discouragement, a desire to give up; without Christ we will try to fool ourselves by blaming circumstances for our lack of effectiveness; without Christ we will be overcome by a feeling of uselessness. But with him, the catch is abundant.

Sanctity does not consist of fulfilling a set of norms. It is Christ’s life in us. Therefore, rather than “doing something,” it consists of “letting something be done,” letting ourselves be led—but responding fully. “You are a Christian and, as a Christian, a child of God. You should feel a grave responsibility for corresponding to the mercies you have received from the Lord, showing careful vigilance and loving firmness, so that nothing and nobody may disfigure the distinctive features of the Love he has imprinted upon your soul.” [2]

When we struggle to be saints, the thread of our will meets the thread of God’s will and interweaves with it to form a single fabric, a single piece of cloth that is our life. This woven fabric has to become fuller and fuller, until the moment comes when our will is identified with God’s, and we are unable to distinguish one from the other, because both seek the same thing.

Almost at the end of his life on earth, Jesus told St. Peter: Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would: but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go . [3] Before, you relied on yourself, on your own will, on your strength; you thought that your word was surer than mine. [4] And now you see the results. From now on you will depend on me and want what I want…and things will go much better.

Interior life is a work of grace that requires our cooperation. The Holy Spirit fills the sails of our boat with his wind. In responding, we have, so to speak, two oars: our personal effort, and trust in God, the certainty that he will never leave us. Both oars are necessary and we have to employ both arms if we want our interior life to advance. If either is lacking, the boat will start turning in circles and be very hard to control. The soul then, as it were, “limps along;” it fails to make progress and becomes exhausted, and easily falls.

If an effective decision to struggle is lacking, piety becomes sentimental, and virtues become scarce. The soul seems to be filled with good desires, but they prove ineffective when the moment comes to make an effort. If, on the other hand, everything is entrusted to a strong will, to a determination to fight without relying on our Lord, the fruit is dryness, tension, exhaustion, distaste for a battle that fails to draw any fish to the nets of the interior life and apostolate. The soul finds itself, like Peter and his companions, in a fruitless night.

If we notice that something similar is happening to us, if at times we fall into discouragement because we are depending too much on our own knowledge or experience, on our own will-power… and too little on Jesus, let us ask our Lord to come into our boat. Much more than the results of our own efforts, we are in great need of his presence. We see that our Lord did not promise them a great catch, and Simon did not expect it. But he knows that it is worthwhile working for our Lord: in verbo autem tuo laxabo retia , [5] at your word I will let down the nets.

Abandonment

Let us backtrack a bit and turn our attention to Jesus’ request. Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch . [6] Duc in altum .Steer your boat into the deep water. To enter deeply into interior life, we need to give up keeping our feet on solid ground, totally under our control; we have to go where there might easily be waves, where the boat will rock and the soul realize that it doesn’t have control over everything, where we might sink if we fall into the water.

Wouldn’t it be safer on the shore, or where the water doesn’t come above our knees or waist, or at most our shoulders? Perhaps we would feel safer there. But on the shore no worthwhile fish can be caught. If we want to cast our nets for fish, we have to take the boat into the deep water and throw off our fear of losing sight of the shoreline.

How often Jesus chided his disciples for their fear! Why are you afraid, O men of little faith? [7] Don’t we too merit the same reproach? “Why don’t you have faith? Why do you want to control everything? Why is it so hard for you to walk when the sun isn’t shining in all its splendor?”

The soul instinctively tries to find reference points, signals that confirm it on its path. Our Lord often gives these to us, but we will not grow in interior life if we become obsessed by the need to measure our own progress.

Perhaps we have the experience that in moments of unease, when we aren’t sure of our course of action and are overcome by the desire to seek an answer at all costs, we end up attributing to some small circumstance an importance it doesn’t objectively have—a smile or a serious look, a word of praise or a rebuke, a favorable circumstance or a setback, can color with their bright or dark hues things with which they have no objective relation.

Growth in interior life does not depend on being sure of God’s will. An exaggerated desire for certainty is the point where voluntarism joins up with sentimentalism. At times, our Lord allows a lack of certainty which, well focused, helps us to grow in rectitude of intention. The important thing is to abandon ourselves in his hands, for it is by trusting in him that peace is found.

The goal of our struggle is not to provoke pleasant feelings. Often we will have them; other times not. A brief examination can help us discover that perhaps we are seeking them more frequently than we think, if not for themselves, then as a sign that our struggle is being effective.

We will find this, for example, in feeling discouraged when faced with a temptation to which we have not given in but which persists; in becoming upset because we find something hard and, we think, it shouldn’t be difficult for us; in noting displeasure because dedication does not bring with it the warm feelings we would like….

We have to struggle in what we can struggle in, without worrying about things that are not under our control. Our feelings are not totally subject to our will and we cannot try to make them so.

We have to learn to abandon ourselves, leaving the results of our struggle in God’s hands, for only abandonment, trust in God, can overcome this unrest. If we want to be successful fishermen, we have to take our boat in altum ,where we cannot reach the bottom. We have to overcome our desire to seek reference points, to be sure that we are going forward. But to attain this we have to rely on contrition.

Beginning again

Simon and his companions followed our Lord’s advice and they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and . . . their nets were breaking . [8] Those who came to help them also benefited from their daring, and the two boats were filled to overflowing, almost to the point of sinking. Such an extraordinarily abundant catch led Peter to realize the closeness of God and to feel himself unworthy of such familiarity: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord . [9] Nevertheless, a few minutes later, they left everything and followed him . [10] And they were faithful till death.

Peter discovered our Lord in that extraordinary catch of fish. Would he have reacted the same way if his work the previous night had gone well? Perhaps not. Perhaps in an especially generous catch he would have recognized Christ’s assistance, but he would not have realized how close God was and that he owed everything to him. In order for the miracle to touch Simon’s soul, it was good that things had gone so badly the night before despite all his sincere effort.

Our Lord makes use of our defects to draw us to him, provided we make a sincere effort to overcome them. Therefore, in struggling, we have to love ourselves as we are, with our defects. Upon becoming man, the Word assumed the limitations that are part of the human condition, those against which we ourselves sometime rebel. On the path of identification with Christ, a key area is accepting our own limitations.

How often it is precisely the calm awareness of our own unworthiness that leads us to discover Christ at our side, because we see clearly that the fish we find in our net are not due to our own skill, but to God. And that experience fills us with joy and convinces us once more that it is contrition that leads us to advance in the interior life.

Then, like Peter, we throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet, and we leave behind everything—including the extraordinary catch—to follow him, because only he matters to us.

Prompt contrition marks out the path of joy. “Your interior life has to be just that: to begin…and to begin again.” [11] What deep joy our soul experiences when we discover in practice the meaning of these words! Never getting tired of beginning again: this is the secret of effectiveness and peace. Those who foster this attitude allow the Holy Spirit to work in their souls, cooperating with him, but without trying to take his place. They struggle with all their strength and with complete trust in God.


J Dieguez | Link

Footnotes: [1] Lk 5:5.

[2] The Forge ,no. 416.

[3] Jn 21:18.

[4] Cf. Mt 26: 34-35.

[5] Lk 5:5.

[6] Lk 5:4.

[7] Mt 8:26. Cf. Mt 14:31.

[8] Lk 5:6

[9] Lk 5:8.

[10] Lk 5:11.

[11] The Way , 292.

 

 

Peter Kreeft: St. Augustine ‘Is a Man for Our Times’

Philosopher Peter Kreeft has published 75 books on the Catholic faith. In his writing and his teaching (he is a professor at Boston College), he often revisits the works of classic philosophers and thinkers, such as Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis, introducing their inexorable logic to a new generation.

In I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked, Kreeft explores timeless questions and leads his readers into a deeper understanding of the saint and his God.

Kreeft spoke recently with the Register about his most recent work, which looks at some of the “big ideas” found in the fifth-century writing of St. Augustine of Hippo.

 

There are so many vital works from Catholic intellectuals throughout the ages — from St. Thomas Aquinas to St. John of the Cross and St. John Paul II. Why do you consider Augustine’s Confessions the most beloved book in the world next to the Bible?

Well, first of all, polls support that. Augustine’s Confessions has been the single most read, reread and quoted post-biblical Christian book ever written. But, secondly, the reason the book is held in such high esteem is Augustine himself.

Historically, Augustine has probably influenced Christians more than anyone else outside of the Bible. Psychologically, he is a complete, compound and compassionate human being. He combines a compassionate heart and a great mind — and he’s a saint! He used the burning light (his mind) and his heart to get through to God. Augustine shows us the errors and truth — the byways, not just the main ways.

I would say that Augustine’s Confessions is actually the single most compelling and attractive and fascinating book ever written by a saint. It is, to the books of the saints, what A Man for All Seasons is to movies about saints — it’s No. 1. And that’s mainly because of the incredible conversation between brilliant thought and genuine love and passion, agony as well as ecstasy. His heart and his head are both at work.

 

What is the chief reason for Augustine’s broad appeal? Why does his message resonate with both Protestants and Catholics, with both men and women?

He’s a mirror. In reading Augustine’s story, we recognize ourselves. He shows us who we are or who we can be — our heads and our hearts; our sins and our virtues; our darkness and our light; our mistakes and our truth. He asks the questions that everyone asks: “How can I possibly conceive God? How can I find him?”

 

Augustine was one of the most prolific writers in the history of Christianity. Why do you consider his Confessions his most important work?

It’s important because it attracts people to a life of sanctity. It’s important because it has helped to shape the public history of Western Civilization — although for that, it’s not as important as City of God, which almost singlehandedly created the Middle Ages. But City of God is about 1,000 pages, so Confessions — with just over 300 pages — is much more accessible.

 

There are many nuggets or truths offered by Augustine in Confessions. Is there a single message that stands above all the others?

If you could state the theme in a single sentence, it would be the sentence on the first page of Confessions, which has been quoted more than any other: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

 

Is that message — as profound and as universal as it may be — becoming less and less relevant in a world that seems to focus more each day on itself and less on God?

No, I think exactly the opposite is true: The more lost you are, the more relevant is a road map. So Augustine is a man for our times — not only because he shows us the twistings and turnings of the dark and crooked mind, but because he shows us the way out of sin and debauchery: the way back to God. Augustine is also extremely relevant in the modern world because he was a sex addict [before his conversion].

 

Augustine knew what it was like to push God away — to hold him at bay — while he experienced the attractions of the world. The danger inherent in this is that one may fall too much in love with the world and never know the joy of falling in love with God. What would Augustine say to those today who have fallen too much in love with this world?

The first thing he’d say is: “Be totally honest.” Experience — even the experience of sin — is a teacher. The world promises what it can’t deliver. What it promises is freedom, and what it delivers is addiction and slavery. Whether we’re talking about pride or lust or greed or any of the sins, they’re all addictive.

 

A recent CARA study reveals that children as young as 10 years old are leaving the faith, being drawn into the secular culture. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is being celebrated around the world. Given that, may I ask you to reflect on your own conversion?

Well, first, I don’t buy that [about children being drawn into the culture]. What I mean is that the facts are there — children and adults are really being drawn away from their faith — but the explanation is wrong. The so-called “war” between science and religion is a fake war, which has absolutely no casualties. There is no study in the Christian world that supports that hypothesis. The real reason that people leave the faith is personal.

As for my own conversion story, I was motivated by facts, by truth. As an undergraduate at Calvin College, I read the Early Church Fathers. My goal had been to persuade myself that I was in the right church; but the continuity, the historical case, the seamless web of Catholic doctrine was overwhelming.

The best professor I had during my years at Calvin College taught philosophy. We became good friends, and I confided to him that I was thinking of becoming a Catholic. It turned out that he had almost converted when he was my age; and he was most sympathetic.

 

You point out that what Augustine confesses is, most fundamentally, God and his grandeur, not just himself and his badness. Isn’t Christianity’s journey a metaphor for the Christian pilgrimage from love of self to love of God, from the city of the world to the city of God?

Yes. What attracts most people to Augustine is the hope of redemption from a life of despair to a life of meaning. He’s not just conventionally confessing his faith in God; the reader senses that he’s truly standing in the presence of that God.

There’s a line in which Augustine says, “Don’t leave — read this book! Have your ear to my heart.” His heart is absolutely, fanatically in love with God. Augustine is like Job: His wildness gets him into a lot of suffering, but his restless heart — that famous line — is the key to the story. He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t substitute a smartphone for a real encounter with God.

 

You offer a template for the reading and appreciation of your book — one that encourages individual thought and consideration on the part of the reader. Have you used this template effectively in any other venue? In a class, perhaps?

Definitely. I’m a bridge builder because great books are written for ordinary people, despite our obstacles. If you can get in dialogue — Augustine is in dialogue with God — it’s an exciting thing, to read this book. Confessions is not just a research tool full of dusty old facts; you encounter a real person.

 

What is your next project? What can we look forward to in the months and years ahead?

Well, first let me also recommend a movie on Augustine put out by Ignatius Press, called Restless Heart. I’m skeptical of most religious movies, but this is truly excellent.

I’ve got a book coming out from Ignatius Press: Ecumenical Pensees: How Protestants and Catholics Can Learn from Each Other Without Compromising.

And at long last, a four-volume History of World Philosophy will be coming out, published by St. Augustine Press.

 

What question have I not asked that you would like to answer? What would you like to say about Augustine that you would like everyone to hear?

One thing I can tell you about my conversion that differs from some people’s experience: Typically, when Jews convert to Christianity, they’ll describe themselves as “completed Jews.” But when I converted, I didn’t become any less evangelical, but more.

When Augustine is depicted in art, he is always shown with a heart on fire in one hand and a Bible in the other. That image aptly describes the urgency of his search for God.

But, most importantly, read Augustine’s book. You’ll fall in love with him; he will change your life.


(c) Kathy Schiffer | Link

Saints’ Quotes for Trials and Sufferings

Sufferings include not only the difficulties of daily labours, but also holy inconvenience like self-denial, self-sacrifice, patience, humility, and obedience.

In no particular rank.

1. “Fire cannot last long in water, nor can a shameful thought in a heart that loves God. For every man who loves God suffers gladly, and voluntary suffering is by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

2. “Be very careful to retain peace of heart, because Satan casts his lines in troubled waters.” -St. Paul of the Cross

3. “If you purify your soul of attachment to and desire for things, you will understand them spiritually. If you deny your appetite for them, you will enjoy their truth, understanding what is certain in them.” -St. John of the Cross

4. “Do not put faith in constant happiness, and fear most when all smiles upon you.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

5. “Patience obtains everything.” -St. Teresa of Avila

6. “Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father Who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” -St. Francis de Sales

7. “If you attach your heart to certain places and occupations, obedience oftentimes places you in some other place that you may not like; to be always cheerful, be always humble and obedient.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

8. “When harmed, insulted or persecuted by someone, do not think of the present but wait for the future, and you will find he has brought you much good, not only in this life but also in the life to come.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

9. “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” -St. Catherine of Siena

10. “No man discovers anything big if he does not make himself small.” -Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

11. “Don’t say: ‘That person gets on my nerves.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.'” -St. Josemaria Escriva

12. “We put pride into everything like salt. We like to see that our good works are known. If our virtues are seen, we are pleased; if our faults are perceived, we are sad. I remark that in a great many people; if one says anything to them, it disturbs them, it annoys them. The saints were not like that—they were vexed if their virtues were known, and pleased that their imperfections should be seen.” -St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

13. “Place your hopes in the mercy of God and the merits of our Redeemer; say often, looking at the crucifix: There are centered all my hopes.” -St. Paul of the Cross

14. “The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask.” -St. Albert the Great

15. “Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.” -St. Teresa of Avila

16. “Obedience is the complete renunciation of one’s own soul, demonstrated, however, by actions. More exactly, it is the death of the senses in a living soul. Obedience is a freely chosen death, a life without cares, danger without fears, unshakable trust in God, no fear of death. It is a voyage without perils, a journey in your sleep. Obedience is the burial of the will and the resurrection of humility. Obedience is to give up one’s own judgement but to do it with wise consultation. It is very costly, beginning to die to the will and the senses. To continue dying is hard but not indefinitely so. In the end all aversion stops and absolute peace takes command.” -St. John Climacus

17. “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” -St. Augustine

18. “Suffering is the very best gift He has to give us. He gives it only to His chosen friends.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

19. “Blessed the one who continually humbles himself willingly; he will be crowned by the One who willingly humbled himself for our sake.” -St. Ephrem of Syria

20. “When we have to reply to anyone who has insulted us, we should be careful to do it always with gentleness. A soft answer extinguishes the fire of wrath.” -St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

21. “Humility if the true guardian of chastity.” -St. Philip Neri

22. “God sends such purgations to you, directors of consciences, that you may acquire the science of the saints and the art of directing souls. You will suffer also in another way. Love will be your executioner. Let it do its work; it knows how. In this martyrdom we have need of extraordinary grace and strength; but God will bestow it. Without this divine help it would be impossible to bear up.” -St Paul of the Cross

23. “We must submit to the Will of God and kiss the hand that strikes us, for we know it is better to suffer in this life than in the next, since one moment of suffering willingly accepted for the love God, is worth an eternity of happiness.” -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

24. “The more the intellect withdraws from bodily cares, the more clearly it sees the craftiness of the enemy.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

25. “They who load us with insults and ignominies give us the means of acquiring treasures more precious than any that man can gain in this life.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

26. “We should let God be the One to praise us and not praise ourselves.” -Pope St. Clement I

27. “If humble souls are contradicted, they remain calm; if they are calumniated, they suffer with patience; if they are little esteemed, neglected, or forgotten, they consider that their due; if they are weighed down with occupations, they perform them cheerfully.” -St. Vincent de Paul

28. “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending.” -St. Augustine

29. “Humility is the mother of many virtues because from it obedience, fear, reverence, patience, modesty, meekness and peace are born.” -St. Thomas of Villanova

30. “Consider the outcome of every involuntary affliction, and you will find it has been the destruction of sin.” -St. Mark the Ascetic

31. “I often thought my constitution would never endure the work I had to do, (but) the Lord said to me: ‘Daughter, obedience gives strength.'” -St. Teresa of Avila

32. “Don’t give in to discouragement. If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be obedient to truth. For with humble obedience, you will never be disturbed.” -Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

33. “As iron is fashioned by fire and on the anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive that form which our Lord desires them to have.” -St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

34. “Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” -St. John of the Cross

35. “If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

36. “Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.” -St. Faustina

37. “Trials are nothing else but the forge that purifies the soul of all its imperfections.” -St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

38. “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” -St. Francis de Sales

39. “Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.” -St. Jerome

40. “She who desires peace must see, suffer and be silent.” -St. Teresa Margaret

41. “He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God. As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.” -St. Faustina

42. “Peace is not just the absence of war. Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakable faith.” -Blessed Pope John Paul II

43. “The greatest greatest honor God can do for a soul is not to give it much, but to ask much of it.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

44. “We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.” -St. Teresa of Avila

45. “When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly.” -St. Sebastian Valfre

46. “Suffering borne in the will quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God.” -St. Jane Frances de Chantal

47. “Thank God I am deemed worthy to be hated by the world.” -St. Jerome

48. “It is good to think about our having our citizenship in Heaven and the saints of Heaven as our fellow citizens…Then it is easier to bear the things that are on Earth.” -St. Edith Stein

49. “The angels and the saints rejoice at the sight of men on earth who struggle, suffer and labor for the love of Christ.” -Blessed Rafel Arnaiz Baron

50. “He that rises after his falls, with confidence in God and profound humility of heart, will become, in God’s hands, a proper instrument for the accomplishment of great things; but he who acts otherwise can never do any good.” -St. Paul of the Cross


http://bentbow.blogspot.com/2012/10/top-50-saints-quotes-for-trials-and.html

Pope Francis on the Spiritual Gift of Fortitude and the Hidden Saints Among Us

http://www.catholic.org/news/international/europe/story.php?id=55408

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – Below is the official Vatican Radio Transcript of the catechetical message Pope Francis gave on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peters square. It is a part of his continuiing series of teachings on the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

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Pope Francis on the Spiritual Gift of Fortitude
Dear brothers and sisters!

In recent catechesis, we examined the first three gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding and counsel. Today we think about what the Lord does, He always comes to support us in our weakness with a special gift, the gift of fortitude .

1. There is a parable told by Jesus, which helps us to grasp the importance of this gift. A sower goes out to sow; not all the seed he sows, however, bears fruit. What ends up on the street is eaten by birds; what falls on stony ground or among thorns sprouting, but is soon dried by the sun or choked by the thorns. Only what ends up on the good soil can grow and bear fruit (cf. Mk 4.3 to 9 / / Mt 13:3-9 / / Luke 8.4 to 8 ) .

As Jesus himself said to his disciples, the Father is the sower, who sows the seed of His Word abundantly. The seed, however, often clashes with the aridness of our hearts and, even when welcomed, is likely to remain sterile.

Instead, with the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit frees the soil of our heart from torpor, uncertainties and all the fears that can stop it, so that the Word of God can be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful way.

This is a real help, this gift of fortitude it gives us strength and frees us from many obstacles.

2 . There are difficult moments and extreme situations in which the gift of fortitude is manifested in an extraordinary, exemplary way. This is the case of those who are facing particularly harsh and painful experiences, that disrupt their lives and those of their loved ones.

The Church shines with the testimony of so many brothers and sisters who have not hesitated to give their lives, in order to remain faithful to the Lord and His Gospel.

Even today there are numerous Christians in many parts of the world who continue to celebrate and witness to their faith with deep conviction and serenity, and resist even when they know that this can result in them paying a very high price.

All of us know people, people who have experienced difficult situations, so much pain, let us think of those men and women who have a difficult life, who fight for the survival of their family, educate their children.

They do this because the Spirit of fortitude helps them.

How many, many men and women – whose names we do not know – honor our people, honor our Church because they are strong in carrying forward their lives, their work, their family, their faith – these our brothers and sisters are saints!

Every day saints! Hidden saints among us! They have the gift of fortitude in carrying on in their duty as people, mother, father, brother, sister citizen. We have so many – so many.

Let us thank the Lord for these Christians who are the hidden saints among us. It is the Spirit within who carries them forward and it would do us good to think of these people. If they do this, if they can do this then why not me and we ask the Lord to give us the gift of fortitude.

3 . With this, we must not think that the gift of fortitude is only necessary on some occasions or in certain situations.

This gift must be the base note of our being Christians, in our ordinary everyday lives. As I said we must have fortitude in our everyday life as Christians we need this fortitude to carry on in our lives, our families our faith. Paul, the Apostle Paul, said something that it would do us all good to hear: “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” (Phil. 4:13).

In our everyday life, in difficult times it would do us good to say this “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me”. The Lord always gives us strength, Lord never gives us more than we can handle, “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me”.

Dear friends, sometimes we may be tempted to allow ourselves be overtaken by laziness or despondency, especially when faced with the hardships and trials of life. In these cases, do not lose heart, but invoke the Holy Spirit, so that with the gift of fortitude He can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following Jesus.