For she teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude, and nothing in life is more useful than these -- Wisdom 8:7
Above the choir loft is an arch. It matches the one in the front of the church in style--paintings done in peach, white, and blues, these depicting the virutes. There are different (and more) virtues than I learned in school--we learned the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (charity); and the cardinal virtues of temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude.
While charity shows up in this arch, and the four moral virtues, there is no faith or hope involved, and 5 others--liberality, patience, chastity, diligence, and humility. Fine concepts. I'll deal with those later (still learning about them--I mean why them). Today, it is fortitude. A cardinal virtue--which has nothing to do with either old men dressed in red or little red birds (who of course were named for the old men) or the ball team (who were named for the little red birds with the pretty song: whatchoo, whatchoo, birdy birdy birdy). Cardinal comes from the latin (duh) cardo, meaning that on which something turns...literally, a door hinge. The papacy turns, the church turns, the councils turn--dependent on the cardinals. Hmm.
Anyway, so fortitude is one of the virues, I suppose, on which our life turns. A hinge.
If I'm just going to "extrovert" for a moment, as Sr. Cathy puts it at meetings when we say what comes to our minds, fortitude is a hinge upon which the other moral virtues also swing--without fortitude, where is justice for the poor and sidelined? Where is temperance for the recovering alcoholic? Where is the follow-through on tough, prudent decisions?
At Pius, fortitude is an eagle. Downright American of us. Or German, I suppose. I might have picked a lion. But maybe that's not appropriate Catholically speaking.
Some banjo playing Missionary of La Salette taught me all about the virtues and sins against each one. They come up on occasion in conversation, believe it or not. I like classification, of birds, trees, and sin. That shouldn't be a surprise. Fortitude leads to the virtues of magnanimity and magnificence. Magnanimity is one very close to me because in high school, my principal Fr. Bill once told me that because I did not have a magnanimous heart, I was not going to be valedictorian. I might have had the highest GPA, but I had a small soul. What a great guy. It's a wonder sometimes I stick around with these Catholics.
Small soul or not, I know that that's a sin against fortitude. As are presumption, vainglory, cowardice.....rashness.....faintheartedness...false courage, ambition: none of these should be too shocking, really. Except for the vocabulary word pusillanimity (which is the lack of magnanimity, so I guess whatI was guilty of...), it's all standard stuff. You went too far to show off. You didn't try to help when you could. You rushed in. You didn't call the police because you thought somebody else surely would. Surely.
That somebody is each of us. And stop calling me Shirley.