We often think of fortitude as the gift that makes us brave and strong in our witness to Jesus. The martyrs have been filled with the gift of fortitude. But many of us will not die as martyrs. Our living of the Christian life, nonetheless, requires the strength of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the midst of life's ordinary challenges and struggles. After the age of the martyrs with the Decree of Constantine in the fourth century, the followers of Jesus asked themselves how they would live their total fidelity to the Lord. Thus began the pilgrimage to the desert as our desert fathers and mothers left behind the comforts of ordinary life to struggle against themselves and to grow in love for the Lord in the harsh desert sands. Today few of us have the luxury of solitude. It would perhaps be easier to hide away in a mountain retreat all alone, undisturbed by the needs and personalities of other people. Instead we remain in communities, families, relationships in both workplaces and in friendships. Relationships take a great deal of fortitude to return love when another may hurt us, show patience when others may be aggravatingly slow, be interested in the one who is boring, care for the one who is aging and alone. All of this takes great fortitude to live on a daily basis...it takes a love that is above the strength we can gather on our own. That is where we need to cry out for the gift and power of the Holy Spirit.