Sunday, 10 March 2019

Fortitude - Evensong First Sunday of Lent

During Lent we may need fortitude which the shorter Oxford Dictionary defines as “ moral strength or courage, firmness in the endurance of pain or adversity. It is one of the Cardinal virtues and in Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica he explains that “Fortitude is the virtue that enables a person to withstand the greatest difficulties that block them from achieving their true goal.” He goes on to discuss the greatest example which is to face death in a just cause. He goes on to expand his ideas by saying:

“Fortitude is that of enduring, of bearing up, of seeing the business through. It is not alone the virtue of coming to grips with danger, it is also the holding on.”

Which by the way what I desperately needed during the Lent that I decided to give up cheese - really a foolish endeavour which I may discuss on another occasion.

The main reason though that I want to talk about fortitude is that on Monday I am going to the Primary School to hold an assembly and this term they are exploring the virtue of PERSEVERANCE.

You will be relieved to know that I am not planning to talk about Summa Theologica or Thomas Aquinas to these young people but rather I shall explore other examples. Of my father, for example, who was a mechanical engineer and was determined to maintain his own vehicles.
When I was a boy I spent many a Saturday morning on my back underneath a HIllman or an Austin “helping” dad - which meant passing him spanners, screwdrivers, torque wrenches,  as he struggled to remove an obdurate part which was broken or needed replacing. He would never give up working his way through his tool box, the penetrating oils and even fashioning special devices if needed. It was a good lesson, if rather frustrating for a young chap who had other plans for the day.

Of course perseverance is a good lesson for young people to learn, a good virtue to cultivate. It feels to me a perfect counter to society’s prevailing view that if something is not working or not to your liking then change it.  Advertising works like this, it creates discontent in your mind - with your car, your hair, clothes, lifestyle and then offers you an apparently easy off the shelf solutions effortlessly delivered to your door in an instant. This is a pervasive culture - from how hard we study at school - and some things take time and dedication to learn to whether the young will work at marriages or take to divorce at the first hurdle.

Sarah’s story of  which we heard the conclusion, is a story of perseverance, she followed her husband Abraham into Egypt, pretended to be his sister, bore him a son in her very old age but even more ir is a story of God’s faithfulness to Abraham.

“Do not be distressed because of the boy, I will make a nation of him because he is your offspring.”

God PERSEVERES he is constant beyond our understanding, from the moment of the fall until now and beyond he is with us - all our fortitude is nothing compared with his faithfulness:

As we heard from Psalm 119

“O let your merciful kindness be my comfort”


No comments:

Post a Comment