Patience

Patience is a virtue is an old “proverbial” phrase that refers to one of the seven heavenly virtues. This phrase has even been used in popular culture pointing out that patience isn’t always easily to practice, but it can be easily accessible if one so chooses to exercise it. Popular music has also allocated the need for more patience, which comes from a 1980s song that says, “all we need is a little patience.” Even secularism acknowledges the need for more patience.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” –St. Francis de Sales

The seven heavenly virtues are a response to the opposition of the seven deadly sins. In the case of patience, the deadly sin is wrath.

Forgiveness and mercy stem from patience, but in order to grasp the importance of this virtue, we also have to understand its formidable opposition–wrath. Wrath, or anger, is a powerful emotion. Anger in itself is not a sin, the virtue of patience allows one to reciprocate so that anger does not bloom into mortal sin.

“The term virtue is from the word that signifies man; a man’s chief quality is fortitude. Taken in its widest sense virtue means the excellence of perfection of a thing, just as vice, its contrary, denotes a defect or absence of perfection due to a thing. In its strictest meaning, however, as used by moral philosophers and theologians, it signifies a habit superadded to a faculty of the soul, disposing it to elicit with readiness acts conformable to our rational nature.” –Catholic Encyclopedia

Like any other virtue such as chastity, honesty, and humility, patience has to be put into action with a bit of practice. Habits have to be formed, much like charity. You choose to love God and neighbor. It doesn’t happen on its on accord. No. Virtues have to be learned and practiced. The seven deadly sins points to our own selfish desires. The heavenly virtues takes the focus from the individual and shines its light towards God and others.

The seven deadly sins are engrossed around the sin of sins–pride. Love or charity is the fuel needed to practice the heavenly virtues such as patience. With free will comes choice. We choose to either have patience or wrath. We choose. It is true that temptation plays a role in that choice, heavenly virtues can lead us away from temptation and sin, and help us grow closer to Christ.

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” –Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

We can look to the Holy Family to inspire us to pray for more patience in our life. In the story of the Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52), the Holy Family along with relatives travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After they sojourned in Jerusalem for the Passover they returned home. Mary and Joseph noticed Jesus was not in the caravan. They lost Jesus. Contemplate that for a moment. Mary and Joseph lost God. For three days they went looking for Him and finally found Jesus in the temple. Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Imagine the anxiety Mary and Joseph faced those three days looking for the boy Christ. How it took a great deal of patience, to battle the great level of anxiety, looking for Him.

All of the heavenly virtues work together. Patience being one of them. Without the grace of charity in the soul, patience along with the other virtues won’t be strong enough when tested.

In order to exercise the virtue of patience, or any other virtue for that matter, the person must be able to recognize if, when, and how frequent that virtue is being utilized. You have to be able to recognize the moments. Take an inventory how often you show anger, or any level of impatience. Also look for signs of depression or anxiety. It may be beneficial to ask your spouse, children, relatives, or friends if you’re patient. They’ll be honest I’m sure.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

Virtues like patience can be obtained if you so choose. It’s a choice. Much like charity, you choose to love even when the desire isn’t there. It takes strength and it takes exercising the other virtues to help gain the level of patience needed to grow closer to God. Continue to pray and fast for patience. Patience is a virtue and we could stand just a little more patience.

by John Connor

Related articles:
Distractions and the Devout Life
Battling Sin
Forgiveness is Divine

A Christmas Birthday

Christmas is a particularly special time for me. My birthday is on Christmas Day. As my faith developed I came to the realization that even though my birthday lands on Christmas, that there’s something much more significant. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) That is the realism we assist at in every Mass. The fact the Christ took on a human form, and we see His physical presence at every Mass under the veil of the Eucharist.

Christmas is not merely a jovial holiday, it is a holy day. The Nativity of our Lord is one of the holiest days we celebrate in the liturgical calendar.

The God of the universe took on human form and became one of us, yet He has two natures, fully human and fully divine. Christ took on human flesh to be the once and for all perfect sacrifice on our behalf, to save us from our sins, and to lay the foundation for the earthly Kingdom, the Church, as the cornerstone.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324) Without the Nativity of our Lord there is no Eucharistic sacrifice. No foretaste of Heaven to prepare us for the banquet that awaits those who are in friendship with God (e.g. in the state of grace). The Eucharist is so important to Catholics that our intellects cannot fathom what life would be like without it. We as Catholics thrive on the graces received from the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” –C.S. Lewis

At Christmas we receive Eucharistic overtones. Christ, the Living Bread from Heaven, was born in a town called Bethlehem, in Hebrew means “House of Bread,” and He was born in a manger, which is a feeding trough that animals eat from. These are foreshadows or antitypes of what would take place at the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist. Through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, He prepares us for the realism of what we’ll receive in Heaven, and we have a foretaste of that when we consume the Eucharist at Mass.

There are two times of the year where we should intensely focus our senses on the Eucharist: Christmas and Easter. Christmas because that is when the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. At Easter, specifically the Triduum, the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper.

Prior to receiving Holy Communion at Mass we say, Domine non sum dignus, or Lord I am not worthy. We are not worthy, but God in His self-sacrificial love (Greek: agape) invites us to participate in the Eucharistic feast. The Eucharist being the perfect thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God the Father. It would not be at all possible unless the Word had become Flesh, born on Christmas Day. There are some that may argue that Christ was not literally born on December 25, but the Church has celebrated the Nativity of our Lord on this day since the early ages of Christianity. It is one of the earliest feasts along with the Epiphany.

How splendid it is to lift up our hearts at a momentous time of the year. Christ offers us a super-substantial (Greek: epiousios) treasure in the Eucharist at Mass. A supernatural gift it is indeed. It’s important to remember the real meaning of Christmas. All the presents in the world cannot stack up to what we receive in the Liturgy. Christ’s Mass, or Christmas, is the beginning to an epic journey that reveals the truth of how much God loves us and wants us to be part of His family. Not only at Christmas, but every day of the year. The true meaning of Christmas is centered around Christ in the Eucharist.

“Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.” –Luke 2:14

by John Connor