I originally offered to write on heroic patience as a joke. While I couldn’t think of anyone who was bragging about their ample supply of patience, it seemed there should be some other woman, made of stronger stuff, who could withstand the slings and arrows of daily life better than I, and who should be called upon to share her wisdom.
But, because my sarcasm was not made clear enough, here I am, the blackest pot, with the largest timber in my eye, writing about patience, and not just any patience, but patience in heroic proportions. Thank goodness I can yield the floor to one more suitable; the Blessed Mother.
heroic adj. 1. having the characteristics of a hero or heroine; very brave
patience noun 1.the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset
When I first reflected on Mary’s heroic patience, I wondered how her life could be a model for me. She had an absolutely perfect child, literally, and she was free from the sin that weakens us. The loud and frantic pace of my daily life must be the exact opposite of what Our Lady experienced as she raised our Lord. How much easier would my life be if my child could turn water into wine for a party or rocks into bread when he got hungry!?
And yet, while she was spared some of the little things, Mary was dealt sorrows which tower over our own crosses and make clear why, in times of stress, Mary is our model of how to patiently endure suffering.
- She faced the uncertainty of fleeing in the middle of the night to an unknown land to protect the life of her son.
- She lived in this far away land for years until her family was able to return home.
- She waited for days to be reunited with her son whom she’d unknowingly left behind in Jerusalem.
- She lost her spouse.
- She watched her son’s agonizing Passion.
And through it all, even during her worst trials, she never gave into sorrow, despair or doubted God’s plan. Never. Sure, she suffered greatly but you can bet she never cursed God, went on a chocolate eating binge or threatened St. Joseph with walking out on the days she “just couldn’t take it anymore!”
It may seem impossible to achieve Marian levels of patience, however, I’ve come to see that patience is like a muscle. It must be worked and pushed to the limit occasionally for us to gain tolerance or acceptance of unpleasant or tragic circumstances.
Everyday we are given opportunities to strengthen our patience; reminding a child for the 3,304 time to put his shoes away, waiting on hold to discuss a medical billing error, helping a child with a math equation she understood yesterday but is completely stumped on today….and so on and so forth. You can yell at your son, hang up on the billing department and toss your child’s book on the floor in frustration or, you can choose to work your patience muscle. Yes it’s hard, it sucks and many times you will be cursing under your breath, but God is your spotter for this exercise. He’s sees the weight stacked on and He’s there, encouraging you with His hands at the ready making sure you don’t drop the bar on your chest.
Sometimes I choose to undertake difficult things, like homeschooling or leading my daughters’ scout troop. People always say, “I couldn’t do that, I don’t have the patience.” Well, I don’t have a ton of patience either but I’m getting better. I keep praying for patience and confessing when I fall short. I don’t only need patience for the days, but to keep my eyes on the big picture or the light at the end of the tunnel. I need to have the patience to keep going because these ventures are worth it.
Sometimes I don’t choose to make my life more difficult, but it happens anyway. Fulton and Teddy require continuous and often tedious care. People say they couldn’t do it, and they feel sorry for me. But God didn’t make me the boys’ mother because I already had an excess of patience that needed to get used up somehow. I’m getting stronger everyday, every month, every year. I can think back and see how much I’ve changed in the last five years. Sure there’s tough times, or set backs, but God is always there coaching me, pushing me on, and ultimately building my patience muscle.
We are all capable of doing hard things; those that we choose and those that our given to us. God knows it, and Mary shows us how. She endured some of the hardest things imaginable, without getting angry at God or despairing in His plan, and she wants the same for us, her children.
A Prayer for Patience
Blessed Mary, Mother of Consolation, pray with me for the virtue of patience.There are so many times when my lack of patience keeps me from becoming the kind of person God wants me to be.
Guide my thoughts to you and the example we have in your own life.
Help me to become patient, as you were patient.
Through your guidance, may I become more accepting of others around me.
Assist me to welcome difficult times with a patient heart.
May I be patient, Mary, as was your beloved husband, Joseph.
His quiet acceptance of the will of Our Loving Father should be an example for me always.
His patience was most wonderful in the eyes of God.
Pray for me, dear Mother of God, that I will allow the Father to come into my heart and help me grow in patience. Amen.
This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here’s a great place to start
October 7 – An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary – Olivia of To the Heights
October 14 – Lively Faith – Molly of Molly Makes Do
October 21 – Blind Obedience – Kendra of Catholic All Year
October 28 – Constant Mental Prayer – Jenna of Call Her Happy
November 4 – Heroic Patience – Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum
November 11 – Profound Humility – Carolyn of Svellerella
November 18 – Angelic Sweetness – Regina of Good One God
November 25 - Divine Wisdom – Britt of The Fisk Files
December 2 – Universal Mortification – Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings
December 9 – Divine Purity – Gina of Someday Saints
December 16 – Ardent Charity – Christy of Fountains of Home
December 17 – Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights – Just in time for Christmas