THE PATIENCE OF GOD Ė NOVEMBER 19, 1950
In an art gallery in Europe there is a painting of a woman who is weeping. Her head is bent in sorrow, but above her are three angels. The artist seems to be saying: "The spiritual world is all around you. Donít be like this unfortunate woman who wonít take the time to look up, and so she languishes in her grief."
A common complaint of many people today is that they find it so difficult to practice the virtue of patience. Well, modern life being so complex, greater demands are made upon our patience than, say thirty years ago. And like the woman in the painting we forget to look up and fail to realize that our patience, like the grace of every other virtue, comes only from God.
It might help us to be more patient if we considered another glorious attribute of God, which Our Lord manifested especially at the time of His Passion and Death, the patience of God. Consider the scene of Godís enemies at the foot of the cross crying out: "If Thou be God, come down from the cross!" One feels like the disciples of the Lord who cried out: "Lord, wilt Thou command fire to come down from heaven and consume them." But patiently the Lord replies to those who reason thus, as He did to His disciples: "You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy souls but to save." And we read in the Old Testament that God "desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that they be converted and live."
How severely the patience of God is tried in these days by nations and individuals! How many live as though God did not exist! Rulers of governments act as though the progress of so-called civilization depended solely upon the power of the State. They assume the attitude that the world and temporal affairs can be governed without the help of God. The name of God is never mentioned in the United Nations. Most of our national and international leaders reckon only with their own ingenuity for the development of industry. The workingman depends upon his strength; the tradesman upon his skill; the father of a family upon his industry; the merchant upon his business shrewdness. Some scientists say that there is no God, or that science can do without God. And in all of these instances, God is patient.
We call God, "Our Father", and He is a most patient Father. Look at what He puts up with from His children: our sins, our ingratitude, our complaints, our anger, our impatience, all of the mean little acts of which man is capable, as well as all of the terrible crimes of which man is capable.
We expect God to be patient with us. We expect other people to be patient with us, but we ourselves become provoked when they are impatient with us and our shortcomings. Let us always remember that we must be patience with ourselves and keep trying day in and day out to conquer our impatience. We must first be patient with ourselves before we can be patient with others.
Let us always remember that our patience comes from God. We must not forget that we cannot practice any virtue supernaturally without Godís grace. Let us always keep working on our impatience, and let us renew our prayers to God for the grace of patience. Only if we have true charity, love of God and love of neighbor, can we be patient. Patience stems from charity, according to that statement of St. Paulís: "Charity is patient, is kind."
On a bookmark found in one of the books of St. Theresa of Avila, after her death, was a little verse the Saint composed and which she undoubtedly pondered many times to impress upon her mind the greatness of patience:
Let nothing disturb thee, Let nothing affright thee, All things pass away. God never changes. Patience gains everything. He who has God Wants nothing. God alone suffices.
To know how to bear life patiently! It is the first penance of every Christian, the first condition and the first means of sanctity and sanctification. With that docile resignation which is proper to him who believes in a just and good God and in Jesus Christ, the Master and Guide of hearts, embrace with courage and patience the often heavy daily cross.