Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings
BE ANGRY, AND SIN NOT: LET NOT THE SUN GO DOWN UPON YOUR ANGER
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.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.
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.
-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