Knowing what to do and acting in a just manner are necessary virtues in the good society, but getting the job done often requires courage. That’s where the virtue of fortitude comes in; it fires us, propelling us to do our duty. We often think of fortitude as bravery, such as when a soldier lays down his life for a just cause. That certainly would qualify. But there are other instances, more mundane, that also meet the test. The sick and dying need fortitude just to face their condition, as do their loved ones (they often suffer more, needing plenty of courage not to give up). Going against the grain requires fortitude as well, as in standing up for what is right when it is not popular to do so. The opposite of fortitude, cowardice, has nothing to recommend it, although it may temporarily appeal to those looking for an easy way out. Fortitude, then, is something that needs to be nourished in everyone. We never know when and where we may be required to draw on it; we also have a vested interest in seeing to it that others possess it as well.
Excerpted from Why Catholicism Matters pp. 30-31 by Bill Donohue. Copyright © 2012 by Dr. William Donohue. Excerpted by permission of Image Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.