Fortitude of the Martyrs
What is it that gives the martyrs such strength and courage? It is the Gift of Fortitude, the last of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit which we have been considering.
Fortitude makes the soul "intrepid and valiant in every type of danger or against every kind of enemy" such as was evident among the apostles and disciples of Christ after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Fortitude also gives the soul "the quality of heroism in great things and in small things". Thus fr Jordan Aumann OP holds that "No greater fortitude is required to suffer the martyrs' death at one stroke than to endure without failing the prolonged martyrdom of the heroic practice of virtue and the fulfillment of one's daily duties to the smallest detail."
Therefore the Gift of Fortitude is given not just to the martyrs but to all of us, in order that we may persevere and live a life of Christian virtue. Fortitude enables us to stand up for our faith and what we believe in, even in difficult situations, it gives us the strength to perform acts of virtue and overcomes all lukewarmness in the service of God.
To grow in the Gift of Fortitude we ought to ask God for the strength to bear our cross patiently, enduring all trials and sufferings for the love of Christ, to undertake voluntary acts of mortification, such as fasting or the traditional Friday abstinence, and to fulfill our duties with a willing and uncomplaining heart.
If we can be faithful in such little things, the Gift of Fortitude will aid us for our lifetime to persevere in a virtuous Christian life or give us the courage needed to witness to Christ, even to the shedding of our blood in His name, as the holy martyrs did. May the Martyrs of Uganda pray for us and their countryfolk.
"O Holy Spirit of God, take us as Your disciples. Guide us, enlighten us, sanctify us. Bind our hands that they may do no evil. Cover our eyes that they may see it no more. Sanctify our hearts that evil may not dwell within us. Be our God and our Guide. Wherever You lead us, we will go. Whatever You forbid us, we will renounce. And whatever You command us, in Your strength, we will do. Lead us, then, into the fullness of Your Truth."