Cyprian of Carthage: Waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil that which we have begun to be Friday, Sep 16 2016 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthagePatience is the wholesome precept of our Lord and Master:

“He that endureth,” saith He, “unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22);

and again, “If ye continue,” saith He, “in my word, ye shall be truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

We must endure and persevere, beloved brethren, in order that, being admitted to the hope of truth and liberty, we may attain to the truth and liberty itself; for that very fact that we are Christians is the substance of faith and hope.

But that hope and faith may attain to their result, there is need of patience. For we are not following after present glory, but future, according to what Paul the apostle also warns us, and says,

“We are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we by patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).

Therefore, waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil that which we have begun to be, and may receive that which we believe and hope for, according to God’s own showing.

Moreover, in another place, the same apostle instructs the righteous and the doers of good works, and them who lay up for themselves treasures in heaven with the increase of the divine usury, that they also should be patient; and teaches them, saying,

“Therefore, while we have time, let us labour in that which is good unto all men, but especially to them who are of the household of faith. But let us not faint in well-doing, for in its season we shall reap” (Gal. 6:10-9).

He admonishes that no man should impatiently faint in his labour, that none should be either called off or overcome by temptations and desist in the midst of the praise and in the way of glory…; as it is written,  “Hold that which thou hast, that another take not thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).

Which word exhorts us to persevere with patience and courage, so that he who strives towards the crown with the praise now near at hand, may be crowned by the continuance of patience.

But patience, beloved brethren, not only keeps watch over what is good, but it also repels what is evil.  In harmony with the Holy Spirit, and associated with what is heavenly and divine, it struggles with the defence of its strength against the deeds of the flesh and the body, wherewith the soul is assaulted and taken.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On the Advantage of Patience, 13-14.

John Chrysostom: The Patience of Job Sunday, Oct 27 2013 

John_ChrysostomHas the devil filled you with sorrow on account of some harm he has brought upon you? Make him sad as well by thanking God.

The best thing, of course, is for you not to become sad at all. In this manner, you will give the devil a fatal blow.

When he sees you ignoring him and his evil ways, he will depart in shame.

[…] But let us now return to the magnificent example of Job.

[…] When his rotted flesh was falling to the ground, when worms were eating away at his body, when he could no longer tolerate the excruciating pain and desired death, this is precisely when the evil one incited Job’s wife to advise him:

“Until when will you be so patient? How long will you wait and hope for your suffering to come to an end?…Go ahead! Blaspheme God and die!” (Job 2:9-14).

At that moment, the devil was certain that he would finally witness Job’s downfall. However, he was terribly fooled!

Not only did this blessed man not blaspheme God, but he glorified the Lord: “Despite all this, Job sinned not” (Job 1:22). Who ever saw or heard of such a wondrous achievement?

During a boxing match, the winner is he who knocks his opponent to the ground. In this case, however, the opposite took place: the devil was defeated and ran away shamefully after he gave Job a beating and laid him up on a dunghill.

“What’s wrong, O devil? Why are you running away? Didn’t you accomplish everything you wanted? … Why then are you running away?”

“I’m leaving,” the devil replies, “because I accomplished everything I wanted except for one thing! The one thing I desired more than all the others did not occur. The end result that I was hoping to achieve through all these things did not take place. Job did not blaspheme God!

“Therefore, I gained nothing by destroying his wealth, killing his children, and wounding his body. On the contrary, I suffered a great loss, because on account of his steadfast patience and devoutness, he was glorified even more by humanity, and he became even more loved by God.”

Do you see what Job gained from his sufferings? He won both the admiration of men and the love of God. He gained both earthly and heavenly glory. This was because his virtue became evident through his sufferings. Therefore, let us all envy his godliness.

Having witnessed all the good things that spring forth from patience, let us not lose courage when we are hit by misfortunes—no matter how difficult they may be. For there is no human in misfortune who cannot find consolation from Job’s example.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily on Patience and Gratitude @ Discerning Thoughts.

Basil the Great: “Blessed is the Man that hath not Stood in the Way of Sinners” Thursday, Sep 5 2013 

St-Basil-the-GreatBlessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1).

‘Blessed, therefore, is he who has not stood in the way of sinners’.

[…] While we men were in our first age, we were neither in sin nor in virtue (for the age was unsusceptible of either condition); but, when reason was perfected in us, then that happened which was written: ‘But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died’ (Rom. 7:9).

Wicked thoughts, which originate in our minds from the passions of the flesh, rise up.

In truth, if, when the command came, that is, the power of discernment of the good, the mind did not prevail over the baser thoughts but permitted its reason to be enslaved by the passions, sin revived, but the mind died, suffering death because of its transgressions.

Blessed, therefore, is he who did not continue in the way of sinners but passed quickly by better reasoning to a pious way of life.

For, there are two ways opposed to each other, the one wide and broad, the other narrow and close (cf. Matt. 7:13). And there are two guides, each attempting to turn the traveler to himself.

Now, the smooth and downward sloping way has a deceptive guide, a wicked demon, who drags his followers through pleasure to destruction, but the rough and steep way has a good angel, who leads his followers through the toils of virtue to a blessed end.

As long as each of us is a child, pursuing the pleasure of the moment, he has no care for the future; but, when he has become a man, after his judgment is perfected, he seems, as it were, to see his life divided for him between virtue and evil.

[…] Insofar as the future promises beautiful rewards, to that extent does the way of those saved offer the present toilsome works. On the other hand, the pleasant and undisciplined life does not hold out the expectation of later delights, but those already present.

So, every soul becomes dizzy and changes from one side to the other in its reasonings, choosing virtue when things eternal are in its thoughts, but, when it looks to the present, preferring pleasure.

[…] While, therefore, that which is truly good can be apprehended by the reason through faith (it has been banished far and the eye did not see it nor the ear hear it), yet, the sweetness of sin has pleasure ready and flowing through every sense.

Blessed is he who is not turned aside to his destruction through its incitements to pleasure, but eagerly awaits the hope of salvation through patient endurance, and in his choice of one of the two ways, does not go upon the way leading to the lower things.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 1 (on Psalm 1), 5, from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 159-161.

John Ruusbroec: By Gentleness and Kindness, Charity is Kept Quick and Fruitful Monday, Nov 26 2012 

From the renunciation of self-will springs patience.

[…] Patience is a peaceful endurance of all things that may befall a man either from God or from the creatures.

Nothing can trouble the patient man; neither the loss of earthly goods, of friends and kinsmen, nor sickness, nor disgrace, nor life, nor death, nor purgatory, nor devil, nor hell.

For he has abandoned himself in perfect charity to the will of God, and…everything that God imposes on him, in time and in eternity, is light to him.

By this patience a man is also adorned and armed against peevishness and sudden wrath, and impatience in suffering which often stir a man from within and from without, and lay him open to many temptations.

From this patience there spring meekness and kindliness, for none can be meek in adversity save the patient man.

Meekness gives a man peace and rest in all things.

For the meek man can bear provoking words and ways…and every kind of injustice towards himself and his friends, and yet in all things remain in peace; for meekness is peaceful endurance.

By meekness the irascible…power remains unmoved, in quietude; the desirous power is uplifted toward virtue; the rational power, perceiving this, rejoices.

And the conscience, tasting it, rests in peace; for the second mortal sin – anger, fury, or wrath – has been cast out.

For the Spirit of God dwells in the humble and the meek; and Christ says: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth – that is, their own nature and all earthly things…, and after that the Country of Life in Eternity.

Out of the same source wherein meekness takes its rise springs kindliness, for none can be kind save the meek man.

This kindness makes a man show a friendly face, and give a cordial response, and do compassionate deeds, to those who are quarrelsome, when he hopes that they will come to know themselves and mend their ways.

By gentleness and kindness, charity is kept quick and fruitful in man, for a heart full of kindness is like a lamp full of precious oil,

For the oil of mercy enlightens the erring sinner with good example, and with words and works of comfort it anoints and heals those whose hearts are wounded or grieved or perplexed.

And it is a fire and a light for those who dwell in the virtues, in the fire of charity; and neither jealousy nor envy can perturb it.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 1, 15-17.

Cyprian of Carthage: Christ’s Saving Patience Monday, Apr 2 2012 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageHe received the spittings of insulters, who with His spittle had a little before made eyes for a blind man.

And He in whose name the devil and his angels is now scourged by His servants, Himself suffered scourgings!

He was crowned with thorns, who crowns martyrs with eternal flowers.

He was smitten on the face with palms, who gives the true palms to those who overcome.

He was despoiled of His earthly garment, who clothes others in the vesture of immortality.

He was fed with gall, who gave heavenly food.

He was given to drink of vinegar, who appointed the cup of salvation.

That guiltless, that just One—nay, He who is innocency itself and justice itself—is counted among transgressors, and truth is oppressed with false witnesses.

He who shall judge is judged; and the Word of God is led silently to the slaughter.

And when at the cross, of the Lord the stars are confounded, the elements are disturbed, the earth quakes, night shuts out the day, the sun…He speaks not, nor is moved, nor declares His majesty even in His very passion itself.

Even to the end, all things are borne perseveringly and constantly, in order that in Christ a full and perfect patience may be consummated.

And after all these things, He still receives His murderers, if they will be converted and come to Him.

And with a saving patience, He who is benignant to preserve, closes His Church to none.

Those adversaries…, if they repent of their sin, if they acknowledge the crime committed, He receives, not only to the pardon of their sin, but to the reward of the heavenly kingdom.

What can be said more patient, what more merciful? Even he is made alive by Christ’s blood who has shed Christ’s blood.

Such and so great is the patience of Christ; and had it not been such and so great, the Church would never have possessed Paul as an apostle.

But if we also, beloved brethren, are in Christ; if we put Him on, if He is the way of our salvation, who follow Christ in the footsteps of salvation, let us walk by the example of Christ, as the Apostle John instructs us, saying He who saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also to walk even as He walked.

Peter also, upon whom by the Lord’s condescension the Church was founded, lays it down in his epistle, and says:

Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but gave Himself up to him that judged Him unjustly.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On Patience, 7-9.

John Cassian: True Patience and Tranquillity is neither Gained nor Retained without Profound Humility of Heart Monday, Oct 10 2011 

Sf-IoanCasianTrue patience and tranquillity is neither gained nor retained without profound humility of heart.

And if it has sprung from this source, there will be no need either of the good offices of the cell or of the refuge of the desert.

For it will seek no external support from anything, if it has the internal support of the virtue of humility, its mother and its guardian.

But if we are disturbed when attacked by anyone it is clear that the foundations of humility have not been securely laid in us.

Therefore at the outbreak even of a small storm, our whole edifice is shaken and ruinously disturbed.

For patience would not be worthy of praise and admiration if it only preserved its purposed tranquillity when attacked by no darts of enemies, but it is grand and glorious because when the storms of temptation beat upon it, it remains unmoved.

[…] Everybody knows that patience gets its name from the passions and endurance, and so it is clear that no one can be called patient but one who bears without annoyance all the indignities offered to him.

[…] When then anyone is overcome by a wrong, and blazes up in a fire of anger, we should not hold that the bitterness of the insult offered to him is the cause of his sin.

Rather, it is the manifestation of secret weakness, in accordance with the parable of our Lord and Saviour which He spoke about the two houses (Matt. 7:24, 59).

One of these was founded upon a rock, and the other upon the sand, on both of which He says that the tempest of rain and waters and storm beat equally.

But that one which was founded on the solid rock felt no harm at all from the violence of the shock, while that which was built on the shifting and moving sand at once collapsed.

And it certainly appears that it fell, not because it was struck by the rush of the storms and torrents, but because it was imprudently built upon the sand.

For a saint does not differ from a sinner in this, that he is not himself tempted in the same way, but because he is not worsted even by a great assault, while the other is overcome even by a slight temptation.

[…] For “Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he has been proved he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love Him” (James 1:12).

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 18,13.

Mark the Hermit: Nothing is stronger than prayer in its action, nothing more effective in winning God’s favour Thursday, May 12 2011 

The intellect changes from one to another of three different noetic states: that according to nature, above nature, and contrary to nature.

When it enters the state according to nature, it finds that it is itself the cause of evil thoughts, and confesses its sins to God, clearly understanding the causes of the passions.

When it is in the state contrary to nature, it forgets God’s justice and fights with men, believing itself unjustly treated.

But when it is raised to the state above nature, it finds the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace and the other fruits of which the Apostle speaks (cf. Gal. 5:22).

And it knows that if it gives priority to bodily cares it cannot remain in this state.

[…] Each man’s knowledge is genuine to the extent that it is confirmed by gentleness, humility and love.

Everyone baptized in the orthodox manner has received mystically the fullness of grace.

But he becomes conscious of this grace only to the extent that he actively observes the commandments.

If we fulfil Christ’s commandments according to our conscience, we are spiritually refreshed to the extent that we suffer in our heart. But each thing comes to us at the right time.

Pray persistently about everything, and then you will never do anything without God’s help.

Nothing is stronger than prayer in its action, nothing more effective in winning God’s favour.

Prayer comprises the complete fulfillment of the commandments; for there is nothing higher than love for God.

Undistracted prayer is a sign of love for God; but careless or distracted prayer is a sign of love for pleasure.

He who can without strain keep vigil, be long-suffering, and pray, is manifestly a partaker of the Holy Spirit.

But he who feels strain while doing these things, yet willingly endures it, also quickly receives help.

One commandment is higher than another; consequently one level of faith is more firmly founded than another.

There is faith ‘that comes by hearing’ (Rom. 10:17) and there is faith that ‘is the substance of things hoped for’ (Heb. 11:1).

It is good to help enquirers with words; but it is better to co-operate with them through prayer and the practice of virtue.

For he who through these offers himself to God, helps his neighbour through helping himself.

If you want with a few words to benefit one who is eager to learn, speak to him about prayer, right faith, and the patient acceptance of what comes.

For all else that is good is found through these.

Mark the Hermit (5th-6th c.): On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works, 90-102, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), online version here.

Catherine of Genoa: He Requires Nothing of Us but that We Should Love Him with that Same Love with which He Has Loved Us Sunday, Apr 3 2011 

When God wills to purify a soul from self-love, he first sends her his divine light, that by it she may discern a spark of that pure love wherewith he loves her, and how much he has done and still does by means of this love.

[…] He also reveals to her that our sins can never excite his anger so far that he ceases to do us good while we are in this world.

Rather does it seem that the more our sins remove us from him, so much the more does he seek to draw us toward himself by many incentives and inspirations, in order that his continued love and his benefits may keep us still in his love.

The better to effect this, he uses countless ways and means, so that every soul, beholding what he has done for her, may exclaim, full of admiration:

“What am I that God seems truly to have no care for anyone but me?”

And, among other things, he reveals to her that pure love with which he created us;

and how he requires nothing of us but that we should love him with that same love wherewith he has loved us;

and that we should remain ever with him, expecting no return except that he may unite himself to us.

[…] God, moreover, made known to this soul that he had created man for the highest good, namely, that with soul and body he might enter into his heavenly home.

He also showed her how great an evil is sin, into which she had herself fallen, and for which there was no remedy but another manifestation of his love….

And he further instructed her in that ardent love for us of which our Lord Jesus Christ gave such proof on the earth.

[…] He allowed her to see the great patience with which he had waited for her, and borne with so many of her sins, in which, if she had died, she would have been lost forever.

[…] He also reminded her of the many inspirations he had given her to save her from sin.

Although she had not only disregarded, but even gone contrary to his will, yet in his goodness, he did not cease to send them, now in one way, now in another.

He allured her free-will in such a way that he had, as it were, forced her to do that which in his goodness he required.

And this, too, he did so gently and patiently, that no example of human love was ever known on earth, which could compare with it.

Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510): Spiritual Dialogues 1,8.

Aelred of Rievaulx: Keep the Eyes of the Soul Always Fixed on the Serene Patience of Your Beloved Lord and Saviour Saturday, Mar 19 2011 

Rievaulx Abbey

The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies.

We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ.

He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men.

He allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men. He bared his back to the scourges.

He submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns.

He gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.

In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love?

Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them.

They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

Therefore, Father, forgive them.

They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognise my glory.

Therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature.

If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord.

Further, if he wishes to savour the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Saviour.

Aelred of Rievaulx (1110 – 1167): Speculum Caritatis 3,5, taken from the Office of Readings for Friday of the 1st Week in Lent @ Crossroads Initiative.

Thomas Aquinas: “Be Renewed in the Spirit of Your Minds”; “Your Youth is Renewed like the Eagle’s” Tuesday, Nov 2 2010 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

But the reason why we do not fail is that although we fail as to the outward man, we are always renewed as to the inward man.

Hence, he says, though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.

[…] According to the judgment of those who consider only bodily and sense-perceptible things and savour earthly things, and whose god is the belly, the body with its sentient nature  is called the outward man.

Therefore, it is according to this manner that the Apostle is speaking here when he says, though our outer nature, i.e., the body with its sentient nature, is wasting away, in tribulations, fasts, abstinences and watchings:

“Our old self was crucified with him” (Rom. 6:6); “Rottenness enters into my bones” (Hab. 3:16).

Yet this man, who is inner, namely, the mind or reason strengthened with the shield of faith, is being renewed.

This should be understood in the following way: oldness is the road to corruption: “And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13).

But human nature was established in wholeness, and if it had continued in that wholeness, it would have always been new.

But through sin it began to be corrupted. As a result, whatever followed, such as ignorance, difficulty in doing good, inclination to evil, punishment, and so on, all pertain to oldness.

Therefore, when such a human nature gets rid of the results of sin, it is said to be renewed.

Such riddance begins in the saints here, but is perfectly completed in heaven.

For here the oldness of sin is put off; for the spirit removes the oldness of sin and is subjected to the newness of justice.

Here the intellect removes errors and assumes the newness of truth.

It is according to this that the inner man, namely, the soul, is renewed: “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph. 4:23).

But in heaven, even the oldness of punishment is removed. Hence, there will be a complete renewal there: “Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps. 103:5).

But because the saints advance daily in purity of conscience and knowledge of divine things, he says, every day: “Ascending in his heart” (Ps. 84:7, Vulgate).

Consequently, patience is unconquerable, because it is renewed from day to day.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Commentary on 2 Corinthians, cap. 4, lect.5.

Next Page »