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Chapter 22.—Fortitude Comes from the Love of God.

40.  On fortitude we must be brief.  The love, then, of which we speak, which ought with all sanctity to burn in desire for God, is called temperance, in not seeking for earthly things, and fortitude in bearing the loss of them.  But among all things which are possessed in this life, the body is, by God’s most righteous laws, for the sin of old, man’s heaviest bond, which is well known as a fact but most incomprehensible in its mystery.  Lest this bond should be shaken and disturbed, the soul is shaken with the fear of toil and pain; lest it should be lost and destroyed, the soul is shaken with the fear of death.  For the soul loves it from the force of habit, not knowing that by using it well and wisely its resurrection and reformation will, by the divine help and decree, be without any trouble made subject to its authority.  But when the soul turns to God wholly in this love, it knows these things, and so will not only disregard death, but will even desire it.

41.  Then there is the great struggle with pain.  But there is nothing, though of iron hardness, which the fire of love cannot subdue.  And when the mind is carried up to God in this love, it will soar above all torture free and glorious, with wings beauteous and unhurt, on which chaste love rises to the embrace of God.  Otherwise God must allow the lovers of gold, the lovers of praise, the lovers of women, to have more fortitude than the lovers of Himself, though love in those cases is rather to be called passion or lust.  And yet even here we may see with what force the mind presses on with unflagging energy, in spite of all alarms, towards that it loves; and we learn that we should bear all things rather than forsake God, since those men bear so much in order to forsake Him.

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