Fortitude is a virtue that is admired by even the non-religious. Even people who think temperance is for the overly pious, consider meekness a weakness, and scoff at humility believe that fortitude is a laudable attribute. For thousands of years, cultures have honored the courageous, recognizing the hero that finds the balanced mean between fear and impetuousness. As C. S. Lewis notes in The Screwtape Letters, people are “proud of most vices, but not of cowardice.”
The Catechism tells us, “Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life” (CCC 1808). Living a virtuous life requires courage. This is something we need to teach more frequently. The call to fortitude is not just in tales about knights or the stories of the martyrs, but in the life of every believer. The daily life of a Christian is not for the faint of heart.
For many years, catechesis shied away from presenting the Sacrament of Confirmation in “militaristic” terms. Avoiding language about battle and warfare, students were no longer taught about being “soldiers for Christ.” Some explain this language was omitted to avoid the sacrament being interpreted as a coming of age ritual or sign of maturity. If that was the case, the attempt has failed. Survey the average confirmation class and you will find most students, if not the catechist as well, has a misunderstanding of the sacrament along these lines.