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Patience is an Evangelical Virtue

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By Marc Massery

Last month, we talked about poverty, the seventh of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Evangelical Virtues. This month, we address Mary's eighth Evangelical Virtue: patience.

The world wants instant gratification. The Gospel, though, calls us to exercise the virtue of patience. Jesus said, "By your patient endurance you will secure your lives" (Lk 21:19). The Blessed Virgin Mary, who was perfect in virtue, exemplified patience throughout her earthly life. As St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote: "Mary's whole life was one
continual exercise of patience."

But what exactly is patience? It comes from a Latin word that means "to suffer." So, being patient means calmly enduring hardships and trials.

The Gospels provide several examples of the Blessed Virgin Mary exemplifying patience. First, she, Joseph, and the Christ Child left Bethlehem and escaped to Egypt in order to avoid the murderous King Herod. There they waited, for probably a few years, until Herod died and they could return back home (see Mt 2:13-15). We also know how Mary suffered when she searched for three days for the Child Jesus until she found Him in the Temple. Finally, but perhaps most memorably, we know how much Mary suffered during her Son's Passion and death.

Most of Mary's suffering, though, isn't written in the Gospels. As an angel once told St. Bridget of Sweden, "As a rose grows up among thorns, so did the Blessed Virgin grow up among tribulations." The Blessed Virgin Mary loved God more than any other created person. Therefore, she also had a greater capacity than anyone to endure suffering. Though we don't know all the details of her life, we can confidently say that she endured more suffering than any created person. This is why we call Mary "Mother Most Sorrowful." Sure, she likely suffered mostly silent, invisible afflictions, but she suffered nonetheless. Saint John Henry Newman said, "[T]he pains of the soul may be as fierce as those of the body. ... [For example,] the elect of God who are in Purgatory, are suffering only in their souls, for their bodies are still in the dust; yet how severe is that suffering!"

Why would God allow one of His chosen ones, never mind His own Mother, to endure so much? As St. Faustina said, "Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul.

In suffering, we learn who is our true friend" (Diary, 342). God allowed the Blessed Virgin Mary to suffer intensely because it was glorifying to Him. Furthermore, through her patient suffering, she drew closer to the Lord and participated, in a greater way, in Christ's work of redemption. Don't forget, though Mary suffered intensely, she also received an incredible amount of grace from God, grace that ultimately made her suffering, in a sense, sweet.

So, when God puts you in a situation that requires patient suffering, remember the Sorrowful Mother. Instead of running from suffering, try as best you can to embrace the suffering the Lord allows. In the midst of the most intense suffering, God never abandons us. He asks us to endure our trials patiently, because through them He draws us closer to Him and molds us more into the image of His Son. The more we become like Mary, the more we become like Jesus, and the more we can experience God's love and peace, until we enter into Heaven with Him forever.

Next month, we address Mary's ninth evangelical virtue.

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Elizabeth Fong - Feb 16, 2021

I need help from Fr. Joseph at EWTN Chapel.
How can I contact him?

- Feb 16, 2021