Above the gift of knowledge, according to the enumeration of Isaias, comes the gift of fortitude.

Why does the prophet place fortitude above knowledge? Because to be able to discern good and evil is not sufficient.

We need strength to avoid the one and practice the other perseveringly without ever becoming discouraged.

We must undertake a war against the flesh, the spirit of the world, and the spirit of evil, which is at times exceedingly afflictive.

We have powerful, subtle, perfidious enemies. Shall we let ourselves be intimidated by certain worldly smiles, by a thoughtless speech?

If we yield on this point, we shall fall into the snares of him who wishes our damnation and who struggles so much the more desperately against us as our vocation is higher.

The gift of fortitude strengthens our courage in danger, and comes to the help of our patience in long trials.

It is this gift that sustained the martyrs, that gave invincible constancy to children, to Christian virgins, like Agnes and Cecilia, to St. Joan of Arc in her prison and on her pyre.

It corresponds, says St. Augustine, to the beatitude of those who hunger and thirst after justice in spite of all contradictions, of those who preserve a holy enthusiasm that is not only sensible, but spiritual and supernatural, even in the midst of persecution.

It gave the martyrs of the early Church a holy joy in their torments.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.