Patience

The man who knows how to be strong will not be in a hurry to receive the reward of his virtue. He is patient. Indeed it is fortitude that teaches us to appreciate the human and divine virtue of patience. ‘“By your patience you will gain possession of your souls.” (Luke 21:19) The possession of the soul is attributed to patience, which in effect is the root and guardian of all the virtues. We secure possession of our souls through patience, for, by learning to have dominion over ourselves, we begin to possess that which we are.’ And it is this very patience that moves us to be understanding with others, for we are convinced that souls, like good wine, improve with time.

We have to be strong and patient and, therefore, calm and composed, but not with the composure of the man who buys his own tranquility at the expense of ignoring his brothers or neglecting the great task (which falls to us all) of tirelessly spreading good throughout the world. We can keep calm because there is always forgiveness and because there is a solution for everything, except death; and for the children of God, death is life. We must try to keep our peace, even if only so as to act intelligently, since the man who remains calm is able to think, to study the pros and cons, to examine judiciously the outcome of the actions he is about to undertake. He then plays his part calmly and decisively.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God, 78-79

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Text of St Josemaria

Wherever we may be, Our Lord urges us to be vigilant. His plea should lead us to hope more strongly in our desires for holiness and to translate them into deeds. “Give me your heart, my son” (Prov 23:26), he seems to whisper in our ear. Stop building castles in the air. Make up your mind to open your soul to God, for only in Our Lord will you find a real basis for your hope and for doing good to others. If we don’t fight against ourselves; if we don’t rebuff once and for all the enemies lodged within our interior fortress — pride, envy, the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, self‑sufficiency, and the wild craving for licentiousness; if we abandon this inner struggle, our noblest ideals will wither “like the bloom on the grass; and when the scorching sun comes up the grass withers, and the bloom falls, and all its fair show dies away”. Then, all you need is a tiny crevice and discouragement and gloom will creep in, like encroaching poisonous weeds.

Jesus is not satisfied with a wavering assent. He expects, and has a right to expect, that we advance resolutely, unyielding in the face of difficulties. He demands that we take firm, specific steps; because, as a rule, general resolutions are just fallacious illusions, created to silence the divine call which sounds within our hearts. They produce a futile flame that neither burns nor gives warmth, but dies out as suddenly as it began.

You will convince me that you sincerely want to achieve your goals when I see you go forward unwaveringly. Do good and keep reviewing your basic attitudes to the jobs that occupy you each moment. Practice the virtue of justice, right where you are, in your normal surroundings, even though you may end up exhausted. Foster happiness among those around you by cheerfully serving the people you work with and by striving to carry out your job as perfectly as you can, showing understanding, smiling, having a Christian approach to life. And do everything for God, thinking of his glory, with your sights set high and longing for the definitive homeland, because there is no other goal worthwhile.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God, 211

Prayer

O Jesus, destroy sin in me, the sin which has disfigured Your face and disfigured my soul created to Your image and likeness. But to bring about this destruction, I must share Your Calvary, Your Cross. Deign then, O Lord, to unite to Your Passion all the sufferings, little or great, of my life, that they may purify me and prepare me to rise from light to light, until I am completely transformed in You.

Lent is a time of penance and conversion

Coming closer to God means being ready to be converted anew, to change direction again, to listen attentively to his inspirations – those holy desires he places in our souls – and to put them into practice. – St Josemaria, The Forge, 32

We are at the beginning of Lent: a time of penance, purification and conversion. It is not an easy program, but then Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion — that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us — is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon our Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask his pardon.

“If you call upon me, I will listen to you,” we read in this Sunday’s liturgy. Isn’t it wonderful how God cares for us and is always ready to listen to us — waiting for man to speak? He hears us at all times, but particularly now. Our heart is ready and we have made up our minds to purify ourselves. He hears us and will not disregard the petition of a “humble and contrite heart.”

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing, 57

Sanctification is the work of a lifetime

Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again — in new situations — the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we’ll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there’s no other way. – St Josemaria, Christ is Passing, 58, 9

The power of God is made manifest in our weakness and it spurs us on to fight, to battle against our defects, although we know that we will never achieve total victory during our pilgrimage on earth. The Christian life is a continuous beginning again each day. It renews itself over and over. – St Josemaria, Christ is Passing, 114, 2

Forward, no matter what happens! Cling tightly to Our Lord’s hand and remember that God does not lose battles. If you should stray from him for any reason, react with the humility that will lead you to begin again and again; to play the role of the prodigal son every day, and even repeatedly during the 24 hours of the same day; to correct your contrite heart in Confession, which is a real miracle of God’s Love. In this wonderful Sacrament Our Lord cleanses your soul and fills you with joy and strength to prevent you from giving up the fight, and to help you keep returning to God unwearied, when everything seems black. In addition, the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, watches over you with motherly care, guiding your every step. – St Josemaria, Friends of God, 214, 5

Your interior life has to be just that: to begin … and to begin again. – St Josemaria, The Way, 292

 

To know oneself to be nothing before God

It is a great thing to know oneself to be nothing before God, because that is how things are. – St Josemaria, Furrow

St John tells us that the other enemy is the lust of the eyes, a deep‑seated avariciousness that leads us to appreciate only what we can touch. Such eyes are glued to earthly things and, consequently, they are blind to supernatural realities. We can, then, use this expression of sacred Scripture to indicate that disordered desire for material things, as well as that deformation which views everything around us — other people, the circumstances of our life and of our age — with just human vision.

Then the eyes of our soul grow dull. Reason proclaims itself sufficient to understand everything, without the aid of God. This is a subtle temptation, which hides behind the power of our intellect, given by our Father God to man so that he might know and love him freely. Seduced by this temptation, the human mind appoints itself the centre of the universe, being thrilled with the prospect that “you shall be like gods” (Gen 3:5). So filled with love for itself, it turns its back on the love of God…

The fight against pride has to be a constant battle, to such an extent that someone once said that pride only disappears twenty‑four hours after each of us has died. It is the arrogance of the Pharisee whom God cannot transform because he finds in him the obstacle of self-sufficiency. It is the haughtiness which leads to despising other men, to lording it over them, to mistreating them. For “when pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Prov 11:2).

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing