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Heroic Patience: The Ten Virtues of Mary

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!”

Rejoice then, we can be mayrtrs without

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. If you need some help in the virtue department, here’s a great place to start!



  1. This post really resonated with me. As a mother of twins (and thus three boys under the age of 3–it used to be under the age of 2!) people at church would always say, “Wow, you must have so much patience!” And it actually made me really bitter; I’d smile and nod and think, “You would be so horrified at my level of “patience” if you could be a fly on the wall at my house!”

    But I have learned so much about what patience really means in the past year. Your image of patience as a muscle is a great one! Even having patience with my own lack of patience is such a stretch for my puny little patience muscles, haha!

  2. Thank you for this Kelly! I needed this reminder that patience is a work in progress. I love the “muscle” imagery. I do believe you were the person meant to write about Heroic Patience: God gave you the words that we, your readers, needed to hear.

  3. Great reflection. I’ve often thought about Mary’s sufferings in regards to my struggle with infertility. In the seven years it took to have a second child, I thought often about how Mary, mother of mothers, was given one child whom she then had to watch suffer and die. Her grace filled suffering have me the model.

  4. “Yes, the life of every good parent is a martyrdom! It is to drink daily from the chalice of Jesus Christ Crucified. To be good parents, you must have a deep and true love of the Cross. It is by changing serpents into doves and tigers into lambs that you will be representative of Christ the Good Shepherd, and prove yourself a worthy parent, a man fit to beget and save souls.” Fr. Gerreol Girardey Qualities of A Good Superior 1920

    I have a great love for the Holy Moter of God. She has passed many of the Lord’s graces to me and mine for many years now.

    “Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once! Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope! And you’ve got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception!” The Tick

  5. This was a beautiful reflection! I love that you reminded us that we are capable of hard things and Mary shows us how, instead of the overused “God won’t give you what you can’t handle.” Your words are encouraging! And the patience muscle–good one. πŸ˜‰

  6. As a soon-to-be-Catholic, I am amazed at the ways Mary can help us grow into her son’s likeness. My patience is being tried awaiting an annulment, so my DH and I can complete the conversion process. There are others in RCIA having annulment issues also–would y’all pray for all of us, please? We completed RCIA at the Easter Vigil and are in Mystagogy now, but still attend Dismissal.
    Protestants always say not to pray for patience, as you will be deluged with all kinds of situations that make you exercise patience. I guess that would be the prayer that exercises the patience muscle.

  7. I am a Seminarian. I was searching for some inspiration to write on the topic, “Patience of Mother Mary.” Your article was a good help. God bless.

  8. Your article on Mary’s Heroic Patience inspired me to write on it as well. I’m going to read other articles as well. Many thanks for sharing.

  9. Thank you so much. I gained so much from your article. Very inspiring and in a very simple manner

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