We refer to the virtue of patience in the book Virtues: the path of imitation of Christ1: “The term patience is composed of the Latin words passive and scientia, which mean “to suffer” and “knowledge”, respectively, so that patience can be defined as “knowing how to suffer”.
This virtue enables one to endure setbacks without weakening. It places the challenges, however great, in their proper place which are ever inferior to God.
And who is the patient person?
The patient is the one who keeps alive within himself the conviction that everything passes, finding the strength not to become discouraged on the journey. For the world, patience can be taken as a sign of inferiority or mediocrity.
However, patience is one of the most praiseworthy and high virtues that exist. He who possesses this virtue does not flee from suffering, but rather gives it meaning; he takes advantage of it and grows stronger with it; he knows that it is not absolute, but passing.
To patience, however, we can bind the virtue of longsuffering, which makes us endure, for a long time, incessant adversities that are sometimes renewed every day for years. Also the virtue of firmness which invites us to remain without doubt or weaken in our moral convictions, so as not to deviate “neither to the right nor to the left” (Pr 4:27). (Virtues: the path of imitation of Christ1. Chap. 6)
5 tips to grow in patience
1 – Prayer: the contemplation of the crucified Christ will help us to grow in the “science of suffering”. On the side of Christ’s sufferings all our anguish, sorrows and sacrifices are little. In prayer we must beg God for the grace of patience so that He may send the divine help that enables us to endure and hope.
2 – To remember God’s deeds in the past: it is not just to “remember” what God has already done, but to truly visit the episodes in which apparently the suffering was never going to end and God intervened and won. This practice is common in Sacred Scripture. It leads us to renew faith in God’s promises and power, even when it seems that difficulties will never pass.
3 – Take perspective: when we are suffering or angry, it seems that all that exists is that difficult situation. It is necessary to take a deep breath and remember that this is only a private matter and not the whole of existence. Taking perspective helps us to give our rightful place to everything, which becomes particularly difficult when we are in the “eye of the hurricane”. It is necessary to always keep in mind that God and his love is greater than everything.
4 – Sharing with suitable people: it is healthy, in moments of difficulty, to share with someone we trust. It can be a friend, family member as well as a spiritual director, confessor or personal accompanier. The important thing is to be a person we know we can trust, preferably wise and discreet. In this way we can live the experience of Jesus and the Cyrenean allowing our brother to carry the cross with us.
We must learn to share in order not to transform this space of sharing into a moment of murmuring, self-pity or gossip.
5 – Asceticism: it is salutary to do penance in order to strengthen our will. With only small daily sacrifices, we will be able to dominate the old man who lives within us and who wants everything to be done as he wants, when he wants, the way he wants.
May the Lord give us the grace to be more and more like Him, who is “merciful and forgiving, slow to anger. Shalom.
¹ LÉNIZ, Juan José. Virtudes: caminho de imitação de Cristo. Edições Shalom, 2020.