“A Christian isn’t a man who never does wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent” ~ C.S. Lewis
It’s interesting to note the presence and use of the rock in today’s readings, both literally and figuratively. First we re-visit the story of Moses striking the rock in the desert of Zin with his staff, thus miraculously allowing water to flow abundantly from it (Numbers 20:1-13).
Our Gospel (Matthew 16:13-23) tells the story wherein Jesus anoints Peter as the rock upon which he would build his church. In a day and age where cleric abuse, terrorism, war, and general malaise and discord reigns, it’s comforting to hear Jesus promise Peter that the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against his bride the Church.
If this weren’t enough, today the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Dominic, a cornerstone figure of the Church who in addition to establishing the Dominican Order is largely believed to be the driving force behind the beginning of the Rosary devotion as well. These 59 powerful little rock-like beads are fastened to the chain which binds our heart to our Lady, while binding Satan to the bowels of hell.
Perhaps you have a spiritual rock in your life, someone whom you aspire to emulate due to their ardent desire to live their life as Jesus did. Perhaps you are that rock to someone else. Those who live their lives fortified by and centered on the Eucharist, encountering Jesus in this most intimate of ways, will unquestionably grow in the virtue of fortitude, thus taking on the rock-like qualities needed to bring others to Christ. For it was Saint Peter Julian Eymard who said “the Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself.”
As a virtue, fortitude gives us the strength and courage to remain firm in our faith. The gift of fortitude sees difficulties as exceptional conditions in which to grow and develop, if when they arise we in fact stay close to our Lord. It allows us to speak the truth, to live in truth, to give witness to our faith and love of God. It is a gift to be prayed for everyday.
“Dear Lord, grant me the gift of fortitude, so that I may go forth in your name and bravely defend the truth, which is unchanging and everlasting.” ~ Amen