GOD IS PATIENT WITH US: ARE WE TOWARDS OTHERS?
HELPFUL TIPS TO GROW IN PATIENCE.
Dear brethren in Christ, as we all know, one of the spiritual works of mercy is to “bear wrongs patiently (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2447).” Patience is a virtue which is related to the virtue of fortitude: necessary virtues if we want to be sowers of peace and joy not only in the different aspects of our family, professional and social life but also if we are to strive for holiness, grow in our love for God daily and finally reach our heavenly goal.
Furthermore, the motive why we need the patience stems from the fact that God, out of love, is patient with each one of us and will continue to do so till the end of time.
- Remember how right from the start, God waited for man to come to Him, sending prophets one after the other, until He sent us His Only-Begotten Son, so as to draw us towards Him? Up to this moment and till the end of time, God is waiting for man to rectify his ways. God never gives up on us, in spite of all our sins, errors, ingratitude, infidelities: He is willing to receive us with a strong embrace and pardon us of our sins. This is just a brief glance of the divine patience.
- In the same manner, Jesus Himself is patient with each one of us, with all our shortcomings, our sins. He demonstrated it during His life, most especially in His Passion and Death on the Cross. Furthermore, His Real Presence in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle, and the absolution He imparts in the Sacrament of Confession are objective examples of His loving patience. Just as He told us to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is, we need to be patient as our Heavenly Father is patient.
To grow in this important virtue, I would like to quote from the August pastoral letter of the Bishop of Opus Dei, Msgr. Javier Echevarría, who gave some practical tips for us to apply in our daily life.
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In our review of the works of mercy, we can now consider the one that the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses as “bearing wrongs patiently” – both those that arise from our own limitations, and those that come to us from outside.
- Let us maintain full confidence in the mercy of the Lord, who is able to bring forth good from everything that happens. Patience is also one of the richest fruits of charity for our neighbor.
- St Paul says this in his magnificent hymn to charity: Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Mercy should lead us to live facing others patiently, including at times when they are being unreasonable.
- We all have defects, shortcomings in our characters, and, although not on purpose, we often cause friction that hurts others: members of our families, colleagues, friends, or in the encounters that can occur, for instance, in traffic-jams…
- All these occasions give us an opportunity to make life more pleasant for others by not giving into bad temper.
Patience impels us not to dramatize other people’s failings, not to fall into the temptation of blaming them, or letting off steam by gossiping about them to others.
- For instance, there would not be much point in keeping quiet about a person’s defects, if we afterwards revealed them through some sarcastic remark;
- or if our displeasure made us treat them coldly;
- or if we fell into more subtle forms of gossip, harming ourselves, the subject of our gossip, and the people who listened to us.
Bearing other people’s failings patiently means trying to ensure that our love for them is not conditioned by those failings; we shouldn’t love them in spite of their defects, we should love them with their defects.
- This is a grace that we can ask our Lord for: not to hold back, or make excuses for ourselves when we are annoyed by others who displease us, because every single person always has good qualities that outweigh their bad ones.
- Therefore, when we realize that our heart is not responding, let’s place it within our Lord’s Heart: Cor Iesu sacratissimum et misericors, dona nobis pacem– most Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus, grant us peace! He will turn our heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
“Let’s put great care, then, into fulfilling all our duties, even those that seem less important. Let’s increase our patience in the face of daily annoyances and take care of small details in our work. Our effort to improve has to be more vigorous. So let’s fight in the little struggles in which God awaits us. Why be resentful in the face of the little everyday frictions that naturally arise from distinct characters and temperaments? Let’s struggle to conquer ourselves: here is where God awaits us.”
Smiling at people who approach us with harshness, or who respond rudely to our friendly enquiries, shows a wonderful spirit of self-sacrifice.
- As our Father [St. Josemaria] said, a smile is often the best sign of a spirit of penance.
- In The Way, among the practices of mortification that he suggested back in the 1930s were these:
“The appropriate word you left unsaid; the joke you didn’t tell; the cheerful smile for those who bother you; that silence when you’re unjustly accused; your kind conversation with people you find boring and tactless; the daily effort to overlook one irritating detail or another in those who live with you… this, with perseverance, is indeed solid interior mortification.”
Patience can also be applied to ourselves. We all have defects to conquer, goals to achieve with the help of God’s grace and many times we fall short. Patience leads us to be optimistic and to begin again daily without giving in to discouragement or despair. It gives us the indispensable sportsman’s attitude to keep on trying untiringly until one obtains his goal.
ARE WE WILLING TO BE PATIENT WITH OURSELVES AND WITH OTHERS, JUST AS GOD CONTINUOUSLY SHOWS HIS LOVING PATIENCE TO EACH ONE OF US?
Let us then ask God through the intercession of our Mother in heaven to help us be patient as our Heavenly Father is patient and apply these useful practical tips to grow in this virtue which is necessary both in our everyday life, being “sowers of peace and joy” in our surroundings through our merciful love shown through deeds of patience, and also in our daily fight to arrive at the finish line all for the love of God and His glory: heaven!
Fr. Rolly A., priest of Opus Dei.
ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: YBAMM IN FLICKR.COM
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2447.
 1 Cor 13:4-7. Cf. Pope Francis, Apost. Exhort. Amoris Laetitia, ch. 4.
 Cf. Ez 11:19.
 St Josemaría, notes taken from a meditation, June 24, 1937; in Growing on the inside, p. 123.