1. Patience consists in preserving one’s serenity of mind amid all the contrarieties of this life for the love of God.
Some persons are patient in order to make themselves admired. Many on the other hand, accept cheerfully only a part of their suffer ing: e.g., they will endure sickness patiently, but they cannot endure to be a burden to others on account of it. That is not being truly patient. Our Lord affords us the most exalted example of patience in His Passion. Our heavenly Father also exhibits Himself to us as a model of patience, for He bears with sinners, even with those who provoke His justice, as perjurers and blasphemers do. Job and Tobias were remarkable for their patience. The patient man is like a rock in the ocean, on which the waves break. Again, he may be compared to a lamb, which does not utter a sound when it is slain.
The trials of life in which it specially behooves us to maintain our tranquillity of mind are: Sickness and reverses, relapse into sin, the pressure of many and onerous duties appertaining to our calling.
Sickness and reverses are not really calamities; they are graces. God sends them upon us for the good of our souls. We ought there fore to welcome them. We must not be irritated with ourselves if by reason of our frailty we relapse into our old sins, and thus are forced to acknowledge that there is more of the human than of the angelic nature about us. We must have as much patience with our selves as with our fellow-men. Our Lord says: “Bring forth fruit in patience” (Luke viii. 15). We must not lose our equanimity when our work is pressing and difficult. Excitement creates haste, and hastiness always does harm, just as an overflowing stream, or violent rain, destroys and devastates. We ought to imitate the angels who minister to man without disquiet or hurry. We ought also to wait with patience for the end of our life and our entrance upon eternal felicity (Rom. viii. 25).
Tranquillity of mind is displayed by not yielding to anger, or to sadness, or complaining to any great extent and calling for the commiseration of others.
We ought not to yield to anger. Anger obscures the reason and makes an act unjustly. “The anger of man worketh not the justice of God” (Jas. i. 20). Nor ought the tribulations of this life to render us sad. There is indeed a sadness which is pleasing to God, that which is caused by the loss of eternal things. Our Lord says: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. v. 5). But the sorrow of the world, i.e., that of the world ling over the loss of mundane things, worketh death (2 Cor. vii. 10). “Sadness hath killed many, and there is no profit in it” (Ecclus. xxx. 25). It is, however, allowable to complain on account of severe physical or mental suffering, so long as we submit to the will of God. Our Lord uttered complaints upon the cross; our heavenly Father frequently complained of the conduct of sinners by the mouth of the prophets. But a medium must be observed; we must not lament over trifles, nor let our complaining be prolonged or exaggerated; to do so is to evince selfishness or cowardice. Complain to God as long and as loudly as you will, for your complaints are an appeal to Him for help, and consequently are pleasing to Him. But if you fill a fellow-creature’s ear with the sad tale of all your care, he will soon weary of your conversation. Not so God; He is ever ready to hear you, and to impart to you such consolation as will cause you to forget all your sorrow. Our Lord says: “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matt. xi. 28).
2. Patience produces many virtues and leads to salvation.
St. Teresa says that if we bear slight things patiently, we shall acquire courage and strength to bear great things. The patient man displays fortitude equal to that of the martyrs. Patience is the guardian of all the virtues, for there are obstacles to be encountered in every good work, and they can only be overcome by patience. St. Gregory the Great declares that by unwavering patience the crown of martyrdom may be acquired without the sword. The patient man is greater than he who works miracles. Patience leads to salvation. “In your patience you shall possess your souls” (Luke xxi. 19). Fragile things are not so likely to be broken if they are wrapped in wool, nor are our souls so likely to be lost if they are safe guarded by patience. The patient man is like a ship at anchor in a peaceful harbor, protected from the stormy waves of the ocean.
3. If we would bear with patience the trials of life, let us place Our Lord’s Passion before our eyes; let us also consider that sufferings are a favor from God.
Think upon the Passion of Christ. He drank of the bitter cup, in order to overcome our repugnance to drink of it; He suffered first, that we might not fear suffering. Frequently think of Christ crucified; your sufferings cannot be compared with His, either in intensity or in number. A soldier scarcely feels his hurt, if he sees his general to be severely wounded. “Let the sick man,” says St. Francis of Sales, “offer his pains to God, and pray Him to accept them in union with the sufferings of Christ.” Remember the words the archangel Raphael said to Tobias: “Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary thattemptation should prove thee” (Tob. xii. 14). Without suffering there is no salvation, for “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts xiv. 21). As the bitter pill is coated with sugar to render it palatable, so when we look forward to the rich recompense in store for us the chalice of suffering loses its bitterness. The laborer could not labor all day long without the anticipation of the wages to be paid him, and the thought of our eternal reward enables us to bear the trials of life with patience. Think of the martyrs, and of others who have greater afflictions than you, and your thorns will lose their sharpness. Beware of losing merit by impatience; remember that you must suffer, either willingly or unwillingly; if you suffer willingly, you will earn great merit; if unwillingly, you do not diminish, but only add to your suffering. Patience is displayed pre-eminently by meekness and peaceableness.
This article, PATIENCE is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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