The blossom of Patience in the Garden of my Soul is a work of the Holy Ghost. Richly sowed, watered, weeded, and nurtured, the fruit of this seed is Peace of Soul. With eagerness then, and docility, let us discover the richness and necessity of the virtue of Patience.
This life is a vale of tears. Trouble of every kind surrounds me; trouble from without, trouble from within, trouble of body, trouble of soul, troubles temporal and troubles spiritual, troubles quite unmerited and troubles that come to me through my own fault. These troubles are the means of my probation upon earth. They truly test whether I am a Child of God. If I bear them with patience I will be saved. If I rebel against them and refuse to submit to them I will be lost.
My God, how infinitely patient Thou hast been with me when I rebelled against Thee! How long Thou has borne with all my ingratitude and sinfulness and stubbornness and disobedience! Holy Scripture contains many examples of the patience of God. When the human family had become so wicked that God determined to destroy them with the Flood, He waited 100 years before carrying out the sentence. When Saul forfeited his kingdom by his disobedience, God waited for ten years before He carried out His sentence. May I learn from Thy example, O my God, to be patient with evildoers and to love mercy rather than vengeance.
My patience is tried by everything that puts an obstacle in the way of my action. Am I kept waiting? Am I interrupted during my speech? How keenly my patience is tried by those who misunderstand and misrepresent me. Do I avoid them or openly show my dislike for them? My patience is tried by poverty, sickness, desolation, loneliness and all employments which are not to my taste. Why has a merciful God created me to suffer? Why is it that the innocent must suffer while the guilty seem to prosper? Suffering is indeed a mystery. Herod feasted while St. John the Baptist was butchered. The Roman Emperors were covered in luxury while the friends of God were torn to pieces by wild beasts. What an apparent contradiction. Am I inclined to find fault with God's arrangements? How foolish!
In the beginning there was no suffering. It was not until the angels rebelled that pain and suffering came to this earth. Suffering is the necessary expiation of the outrage offered to the majesty of God by His creatures. It is a fulfillment of the eternal law that he who sins must suffer. What else is my suffering but a just punishment for my sins? But, it is a great deal more than this. It is a remedy for the disease of sin, the kindly knife that cuts but cures. The prodigal son led by suffering returned to his father's house. It purifies the soul and almost forces one to humility and submission. Suffering is a payment for the joy to come. The willing acceptance of it is the surest road to a high place in Heaven. I can earn more grace for myself and for others by patient endurance of suffering than by the most active zeal; it is a safer as well as surer means of glorifying God for I cannot be proud of my sufferings whereas I might be proud of my actions. Thus, patient suffering is one of the best gifts that God can give me.
Discipline of self is necessary for the development of any virtue. My external actions begin with interior dispositions. My path is crossed, the troubles come and this gives way to resentment and anger. I must learn to remain unmoved and with tranquil countenance avoid all expression of annoyance: slow to act and slow to anger in imitation of the great patience God has with me. This is not an unhealthy response. Exterior patience helps enormously to calm my interior feelings. Peace will soon return if I but keep a serene face and quiet demeanor. Exterior calmness edifies others and honors Christ Our Lord, just as impatience and anger dishonor my very name as a Christian. Christ instructs us Himself: "Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Out of love for God I must be more gentle to those who give me pain, more tranquil under words and actions that wound or hurt me.
The repression of external signs of anger has no value in the eyes of God, except that it is a step towards acquiring interior virtue. The soldier, the courtier and the servant suppress their exterior marks of anger out of fear of punishment or hope of reward. As a Christian, I must do more than this. My motive must be to please Christ and to imitate Him. When unkindness or injury is done to me, there arises a double feeling of pain and hurt. In this there is no sin. But, quick to follow is another feeling; a desire to retaliate, animosity and even hatred. These must be expelled from my soul if I am to resemble Him who is meek and humble of heart. I must beg God for calmness and a spirit of forgiveness, and I must pray for the offender. These wounds and offenses, troubles and trials are very useful for me. In time, I will be convinced of this. They are indispensable for the beating down of my pride. God resisteth the proud and exalts the humble. What was the attitude of the saints towards those who despised them, persecuted them and killed them? They thanked God for them as their greatest benefactors. What a long way I have yet to go in order to reach this degree of sanctity. My impatience is a reliable measure of my pride.
Impatience is one of the most foolish of all faults. It gains for me nothing! It does not relieve me of my sufferings, but aggravates them making me discontented, miserable and uneasy. Impatience, when indulged in, is a rebellion against God. It is a practical refusal to accept His Divine Will in my regard. It is a mark of pride not completely subdued and of self-will that has not fully learned to submit. I must school myself in patience by making little sacrifices throughout the day in bearing willingly small contradictions and checking the word of complaint. This may seem like only trifles, but my victory over self is no trifle. It is the labor of a life-time!
If I could have seen Mary upon earth, her undisturbed peace would have made a lasting impression upon me. Her flight into Egypt, the loss of Jesus in the Temple, standing brokenhearted at the foot of the Cross, all this was borne in perfect patience. Within this divine blossom of patience we find the priceless gem of HOPE!
In all my daily troubles, trials and sufferings, I must remain dependent upon God, constantly asking for His help and never failing to place all my trust in Him. If I stumble, fall, and fail in patience, it is because I have lost sight of the great reality of my existence. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him, with all my mind, heart and soul, upon this earth for a short time, that I may spend all eternity with Him in Heaven, in perfect peace and happiness!