So, when the Holy Spirit comes to us in our need with the gift of fortitude, it is no longer a demonstration of ‘our’ ability to endure. It is a deeply transforming gift that allows us to give to others and to be steady in our love even when it is not acknowledged or returned. This is the real strength on which the healing and the hope of our world depends. You can see it vividly in the women who stand at the foot of the cross, or in the constant care Paul has for his communities, whatever the risks and the challenges, the criticisms, threats, rejections and persecutions he must face. You can see it, too, in all those countless unknown and unsung women and men who have kept faith, who have kept on living, hoping, loving and caring, whatever the cost. They might be members of our family, or community; they might be a partner or parent, a son or daughter, or just the stranger that stayed with us when we needed support and protection.
Or you can find it in the constant round of prayer for us in the hidden communities of enclosed life or eremitical solitude, which carries us through the long silent nights when we feel lost and alone. In all these acts of faithfulness and constancy we experience the touch of Christ and God’s gracious faithfulness to us. In them all we see the witness of the Spirit who gathers the community of the Church and bestows upon it the grace of fortitude to carry us. We should never underestimate the courage and the fortitude of the Church and the way in which, whatever the difficulties, the Holy Spirit gives her the grace to continue faithfully in her mission to carry Christ to the weary and suffering world, and to carry the same world to him. It is the Spirit’s gift of fortitude that sustains us as community of faith. It is this gift of the Spirit that sustains the Church’s life and makes it a deep and unfailing well of grace from which a parched humanity can still draw the water of life and refresh its burdened soul.