July 16, 2008

Patience

Friends,

Consider these words from St. Paul of the Cross:

“...be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love... if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public."

Why does this feel like such a tall order? Our world, today, thrives on efficiency. Patience is a vice, not a virtue.

My career - the secular one, at least - is centered around performance improvement and efficiency, in fact. It might seem hypocritical for me to suggest we all practice more patience, as St. Paul wrote, but it isn't. Why? Because there is a difference between efficiency and impatience.

You can be both patient and efficient! Such people don't waste time with things because they find the best way to deal with them, using the fewest steps. Such people don't waste time with people because they recognize that time with people is not wasted.

According to St. Paul, Christ's goodness was heroic. It took courage and heroism to be that patient, to put others (the whole world, past, present and future, in fact) before self. Christ put all of us first, sacrificing first His time to teach and conquer ignorance, then His life, to conquer death.

Patience is not easy, but it is Christian. It takes courage to be patient. It takes heroism. It takes the courage to put on Christ, to sacrifice of our time and self-importance to act as if other people mattered - which, it turns out, they do.

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