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By Charlie McKinney, SpiritualDirection.com, Aug. 9, 2017
Patience is so important that Jesus Christ, our model in all virtues, said: “In your patience you shall possess your souls” (Luke 21:19, Douay-Rheims). One pious soul prayed in desperation: “Lord, give me patience right now!” Maybe this has been your prayer for the last few years.
Our patience can be tested by various circumstances: the failure of health, economic setbacks, family members who could put the holy Job to the test, weather extremes, failed and broken relationships, and even God — when it seems as if he is distant, that he does not hear our prayers or at least seems indifferent to our pleadings.
How, then, can we acquire the all-important virtue of patience that, as Jesus reminds us, is necessary for the salvation of our immortal souls? Here are four ways to increase patience.
Persevere in Begging for Help.
St. Ignatius of Loyola insists that we must beg for grace, and St. Augustine humbly reminds us that we are all beggars before God. God is willing to give if we simply persevere in asking him. Remember the persistent widow who gained the favor of the callous and cold-hearted judge for the simple reason that she kept begging for his help (see Luke 18:1–8)? “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
Follow Jesus’ Example.
There is a saying: “Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.” Reading the Gospels and meditating on the words, gestures, and actions of Jesus can help us to become like him. Spend time with Jesus in the Gospels and associate with him more and more. You will start to imitate Jesus, especially in the virtue of patience.
Meditate on the Passion of Christ.
When trials descend on you, call to mind some element of the passion of Christ, either from the Gospels or from the works of writers such as Anne Catherine Emmerich. This will put your trials into a broader and supernatural perspective: the trials you suffer might indeed be very painful, but compared with what our Lord has gone through, they are a mere trifle. Also, we suffer trials partially as a result of our own sinfulness, but Jesus suffered the most excruciating pains even as the epitome of innocence. Choose one element or detail of the passion that strikes you most, and recall this scene when your patience is put to the bitter test. The love of Jesus can move you to carry patiently the most burdensome crosses. As St. Paul states: “The love of Christ urges us on” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14).
Pray to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.
One essential element in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the film. The intensity of Mary’s suffering was second only to Jesus’.
The film portrays Our Lady of Sorrows along the way of Calvary accompanying Jesus in his most bitter trial. Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, patient to a heroic degree. She practiced patience her whole life: traveling to Bethlehem, fleeing to Egypt, seeking out her lost son for three long days, losing her beloved husband, St. Joseph, to death, and accompanying Jesus, seeing him crucified, and staying with him until he drew his last breath. When our patience is put to the test, then, we should lift our minds, hearts, and souls to our Lady, and she will acquire for us heroic patience.
We all struggle to be patient with others, with ourselves, with circumstances, and at times even with God. Let us use the weapons we have in our arsenal to attain the all-important virtue of patience. Let us pray as beggars to the most generous giver, God. Let us follow the example of Jesus. Let us meditate on his passion and, when opportunities to practice patience surface, call to mind all that Jesus suffered for us. Finally, let us ask Our Lady of Sorrows to obtain for us meek, humble, and patient hearts.
Art for this post on how to increase patience: Christus Und Die Samariterin Am Brunnen (Christ And The Samaritan Woman At The Well), Angelika Kauffmann, 1796, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Cover of From Humdrum to Holy used with permission.
Charlie McKinney is the Publisher of Sophia Institute Press and President of Sophia Institute for Teachers, CatholicExchange.com, CrisisMagazine.com, and EpicPew.com. Charlie is a convert to the Catholic Faith and is a regular guest on Catholic radio and television. He and his wife have four children and they reside in New Hampshire.