by Liz Beller
Patience seems to be yet another one of those virtues that has quickly evaporated in today’s fluid society. Changes in technology are rapidly advancing and with each new “toy”, swifter gratification is one of the main goals to be achieved.
Internet browsers are constantly updating to make web surfing quicker, I can just talk into my phone to text, or even just lazily swipe my finger in the direction of the letters and my word will appear. I recently heard an ad for one of the latest and greatest modern innovations — you can now have your contraceptive implanted into your arm for convenience, so you don’t even have to take the time and effort to pop a pill.
What is wrong with people? Key word being people here…
Our culture is moving further and further away from personalization. We are trying to substitute machines to fill the emptiness inside. We are trying to substitute noise, toys, stuff, to conceal the void. We don’t want to come to knowledge of ourselves, those around us, and least of all, God.
But that’s wherein lies the problem. It’s a continuous search, but it will always come out futile when it’s in all the wrong places.
Deafening and Desperate
Time, peace, quietude. These gifts of the Creator with which we can come to know Him are rapidly being done away with. When’s the last time you had a family dinner out during which a phone didn’t ring, or a text alert didn’t buzz, or a TV wasn’t blaring in the space around you? The noise is deafening.
And, maybe it’s just my observation, but everything seems to be desperately important. Few people can wait until later, when they are alone, to check their phones. I’ve even seen people take cell phone calls during Mass! What could possibly be more important at that moment than the sacred celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
I’m not pointing fingers; I’m guilty of the lack of patience myself very frequently. My husband even suggested that for Lent I give up checking my phone until ten minutes after it rang. This suggestion allowed me to stop for a minute and realize that constant, instant gratification, even of curiosity, is not healthy.
This incessant need for speed can be a real detriment to our path towards Christ. We lose sight of our end goal when we are constantly trying to move on to the next event without enjoying the gift of the present moment.
Savor the Present
It’s ok to wait patiently for someone to show up for an appointed meeting time. Their being late could be out of their control. It’s not the end of the world if the grocery line is backed up a little bit. There are people in third world countries who wait hours in a soup kitchen line. Sometimes it’s even alright to let your phone ring unanswered. You may find yourself savoring the present moment instead of whisking it away.
We can take the recently canonized saint, John Paul II, as an example. In Jason Evert’s book, St. John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, he quotes the following anecdote related by John Paul’s preacher to the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa:
“This is an aspect of the Pope that has impressed me greatly; it would seem he is never in a hurry. Despite everything the Pope has to do and all the problems he has to address, when he is with someone, he exists only for that person. Once I was caught in Rome’s traffic and despite the driver’s efforts, we arrived a quarter of an hour late for the preaching. To tell the truth, some cardinals were impatient and waiting at the door. The Pope, instead, was tranquil in his chapel, praying the Rosary, showing no sign of impatience for my delay.”
St. John Paul was especially noted for his abhorrence of wasted time, while at the same time never being in a hurry. He was truly living united to God, using “extra” time for prayer and meditation.
Chances are good that none of us are as busy as the Holy Father was. We can use time when we are being held up as a good opportunity for grace to fill our hearts. It’s not the waiting wherein lies the virtue; it’s what we do with that time. It’s how we react to and occupy that time.
According to St. Thomas, “A person is said to be patient… because he acts in a praiseworthy manner by enduring things which hurt him here and now and is not unduly saddened by them.” This is one of the keys to a life well-lived — to be positive and upbeat when inconveniences come our way, especially those which encroach upon our “precious” time.
To a certain extent, we will never be completely at peace here and now, for we were created for Another. We can choose to fill our minds and hearts with distractions, only to find the next stimulation that comes our way, or we can endure extra moments with fortitude in silence. For we will always be searching, searching, for that hunger can only be satiated by the Author of Life.
As St. Augustine so eloquently put, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless Lord, until they rest in Thee.”
Header Image CC DryHeatPanzer