Patience

Saint Alphonsus Liguori was a bishop. One day, he was insulted by a woman as he was leaving the cathedral. She accused him of being responsible for the famine that had ravished the land. The saint reacted by blessing her.

But the sacristan, who was accompanying him, was less courteous and shoved her aside. The bishop was annoyed at this angry gesture of his sacristan and immediately reprimanded him: “Poor thing, she and others like her, deserve compassion; these words do not stem from their hearts but from their hunger.” The sacristan was given a penance: four days staying home and praying!

Let us face it. We can resent waiting and many of us do! But one thing is certain – we cannot avoid it. We are always waiting for something – in the traffic, in the bank, at the shops, waiting for a job, waiting for someone to change his mind… Above all, we are waiting for ourselves to grow up…

Perhaps we should learn to accept and even get good at it! Many claim that patience is an essential quality of a happy life. The Jews had to wait centuries before the Messiah came. Mary had to wait nine months before she could embrace her son. The saints understood the importance of patience. Pope Saint Gregory I said, “Patience is the root and guardian over all the virtues.” And Saint Augustine wrote, “Patience is the companion of wisdom”.

Patience and perseverance are twin virtues that bring God’s blessing. Patience allows us to remain hopeful when our prayers don’t seem to get answered, and our problems grow. Perseverance inspires us to continue a task we know to be right even though we do not see the results we expect.
There is no time when these two virtues were more needed than now. Our times are filled with edginess and a love of ease; we all want instant rewards and immediate results. We seem unwilling to work hard and to patiently wait for the harvest of our labors. In their place we love the lottery ticket and spiritual leaders who promise the easy way as rewards for faith.
We have lost our bearings. We are losing contact with reality.

The husband was really angry after waiting for thirty minutes fruitlessly for his wife. Seeing one of those photograph booths nearby (the kind that accepts coins and takes four shots while you pose on a small bench), he had an idea. He assumed the most fierce expression he could manage, which wasn’t difficult under the circumstances, and in a few moments he was holding four small prints that shocked even him!

He wrote his wife’s name on the back of the photographs and handed them to a clerk behind the desk. “If you see a petite, fair lady with blue eyes and an apologetic expression, apparently looking for someone, would you please give her this?” he said.

He then returned to his office content that, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then four photos must be a total lecture!

His wife saved those pictures. She carries them in her purse now and shows them to anyone who asks if she is married…


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.