The Life of Virtue – Patience
If we are to endure and ultimately overcome these sufferings we need to practice the virtue of patience and the only way to become a patient person is to make acts of patience. In prayerfully disposing ourselves to humbly accept the trials we face and the burdens we must bear, we can cultivate this very Christian virtue. Difficult though it is, we must see these hardships as God-given opportunities for us to acquire patience. If we shy away from every difficult or disagreeable situation, if we fail to accept the cross in our lives, then we not only deprive ourselves of the opportunity to practice patience and thus grow in holiness but leave ourselves open to greater evils and the sufferings they bring. We must trust in God and face our trials. As St Paul reminds us “everything written before our time was written for our instruction that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures” (Rom 15:4).
It is certain that this is no easy virtue to cultivate. Sometimes we will fail but we must persevere and we must remember that we do not do so alone. God’s love for us is beyond our understanding and we must turn toward Him in love and humbly ask Him for the grace we so deeply need. As Aquinas states, “Patience, insofar as it is a virtue is caused by charity…from which it is clear that patience cannot be obtained without the help of grace” ( IIa IIae, q.136 art 3). St Paul also insists that “charity is patient” (1 Cor 13:4.) and so we must recognise our acts of patience as being rooted in love and learn to humbly trust God to give us the grace we need to suffer for love of Him.