Bishop Eric Menees
In over 28 years of ordained ministry - and the several years prior, as a layman - I have never ceased to be amazed at the fortitude that some of our brothers and sisters have: strength to fight and strength to die gracefully; strength to love, serve, and stand by the side of a loved one in the midst of great sorrow and fear.
This strength comes not from within ourselves, but as a gift of the Holy Spirit that is sometimes referred to as Godly Might or Godly Fortitude. Again, this is referenced as one of the foundational gifts by the Prophet Isaiah when he wrote: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3a)
In my ministry, throughout the years as a Hospice Chaplain, Hospice Board Member, and Fire Department Trauma Team founder and member, I've been both blessed and cursed to witness hundreds of people face traumatic injury or illness. When that happens, both the patient and their loved ones must come to a place of either resignation at their ill fate, or of recognizing that, even though we live in a fallen world that knows great pain and sorrow, we can, as Christians, face pain and suffering with the knowledge that even in suffering God can be glorified and others can be aided.
In my own family, I look to my brother as an example of one who has had Godly Might & Fortitude. Ken has juvenile diabetes and is now 58 years old. Ken's health has deteriorated over the years: he's had two heart attacks, several stints, his kidneys are not working well, he has no feeling in his feet, and his eyesight continues to weaken. In short, Ken has all of the problems that someone who has had diabetes for fifty years would have. In all that time, I've never heard him complain, nor ask for a break or to have things easier. Ken has gotten up every morning and gone to work to support his family, to be a productive citizen, and to help other people.
I'm not sure Ken would say that he's gifted with Godly Might, but he'd be quick to say that he could not have done all that he has without God's help. Ken and his family are faithful Catholic Christians - he serves with the Knights of Columbus and, throughout the years, has held about every position a layman can have at his church; never complaining about his illness, never asking for a break, and never giving in.
Two weeks ago Ken got to see something he secretly feared that he might not - his only child's marriage to a wonderful man. I was so proud of my brother as he walked my niece down the aisle. I stood at the altar and saw the beam in my brothers face that radiated the love of a father for his daughter, and the Love of our Heavenly Father for his adopted son.
Let us pray for all the Kens of this world, and for all of the men and women who love them and care for them in good times and in bad. Thank God for the gift of Godly Might and Fortitude - it is too frightening to think what this world would be like without it!
Let us pray: "Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake." Amen.
I pray you all a blessed week as you seek and serve the Lord!
Catechism Questions 127 - 130
127. What is the work of deacons?
The work of deacons, serving Christ under their bishops, is to assist priests in public worship, instruct both young and old in the catechism, and care for those in need. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)
128. What is marriage?
Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman, binding both to self-giving love and exclusive fidelity. In the rite of Christian marriage, the couple exchange vows to uphold this covenant. They do this before God and in the presence of witnesses, who pray that God will bless their life together. (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19; Mark 10:2-9; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39)
129. What is signified in marriage?
The covenantal union of man and woman in marriage signifies the communion between Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, and the Church, his holy bride. Not all are called to marriage, but all Christians are wedded to Christ and blessed by the grace God gives in marriage. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
130. What grace does God give in marriage?
In Christian marriage, God establishes and blesses the covenant between husband and wife, and joins them to live together in a communion of love, faithfulness and peace within the fellowship of Christ and his Church. God enables all married people to grow in love, wisdom and godliness through a common life patterned on the sacrificial love of Christ.