Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patience - December 15

Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings


In so far as anger gets the mastery over a man, in so far does he lose the dominion which he ought to possess over lower things, and so far he displaces reason from its throne. Our Saviour says: "In patience shall ye keep possession of your souls" (Luke xxi. 19); and in almost every language a man in great anger is said to be out of himself. I shall not give advice regarding those great excesses of fury which are too common in the world, but are surely unknown to interior men. Even by much less impatience and rebel­lion and by much smaller impetuosities devout souls can lose their peace of mind, can increase the habit of selfishness and diminish greatly the meri t of good works.

The most solitary life affords opportunities for exercising patience. Many crosses are permitted by God's providence to come to us from without, impatience in regard to which may be inter­preted as impatience against God. He that would be perfect must therefore observe the light­est motions of the heart, for it can be stirred by the vilest creatures, such as insects, flies, etc., or even by inanimate things, like pens and ink.

The following are the degrees of patience to be ascended before its perfection can be attained:
The first is to have a serious desire of patience, with an endeavor to hold it in our higher will under any provocation. If this cannot be done at first, then to procure it as soon as may be, be­fore the sun sets, or in our next recollection; and at least to restrain our tongue and members from expressing impatience, even though it show itself in sour looks. A person that cannot generally ab­stain from wilful angry speech, or, what is worse, from passionate action, has not yet reached the lowest grade of patience.

The second degree is to guard the heart that no cross or contradiction may enter therein to disturb it, esteeming the provocation as not worth considering save as an opportunity of merit.

The third is to use mild words and friendly looks to those that provoke us, desiring and en­deavoring to lay obligations upon them.

The fourth is, with holy David, to "expect up­braiding and affliction"; not perhaps seeking such mortifications, but at least not anxiously avoiding them. God ofttimes inspires His ser­vants to desire or seek occasions for patience. St. Syncletica begged St. Athanasius to assign her some cross, ill-natured person to wait upon; and when her prayer was granted, attained such per­fection of patience as to suffer the woman's frowned tempers with facility and joy.

The fifth degree is to bear with resignation and peace avidities and interior crosses, which are far more grievous than external ones, especially that great desolation which God sends for the purify­ing of the perfect.

The sixth and supreme degree of patience is to suffer all these things, not with quietness only, but with joy. This is something more than human - a supernatural gift of God whereby the su­perior will embraces sufferings without repug­nance, and even the lower nature endures them without resistance, even when coming suddenly and unexpectedly.
Without pure internal prayer all other efforts to obtain patience will produce little else than a philosophical resignation, mingled with secret and natural motives. By prayer joined with pa­tience at other times the very soul will be rec­tified, and will come by degrees to an estab­lished peacefulness that nothing can disturb.
-Baker: Custodia Cordis.
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See

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