Monday, June 9, 2014

Lord, Give Me Patience

St. Ephrem of Syria was said to have had “anger management” problems in his youth.  He got angry.  But through prayer, he was able to overcome his anger, and eventually became recognized as a Doctor of the Church.
People can change.
How often do we pray each day the prayer Our Lord gave us?  How often do we really mean what we pray, what we SAY, to our Father?
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.
How sincerely are we really praying that “Thy will” be done, when we become angry that OUR will is not being done?  How can we say that “we forgive those who trespass against us” when our first reaction is to get angry at them and, then in the quiet of our heart, to curse them?  Are our actions a reflection of the truth of the prayer we pray, we say, daily to Our Father?
For our sometimes lack of sincerity in saying those words, we should be glad that Our Father loves us, and that He DOES forgive us --- who trespass against Him, and who do not consider His will the most important, but ours.
How often do I, in my daily routine become irritated at those around me?  I’ve written here often enough about my own failings, but what about yours?  Do you also become angry at the guy driving too slow, or talking on the phone?  Do you become irritated at the actions of local politicians, and so angry at Washington that you don’t want to talk about it?  Does your kids’ noise cause you to yell for peace and quiet?  And yet does your spouse’s quiet make you angry, and cause you to speak words left best unsaid?  Does another’s anger act as a spark to yours, so their stupid rage is countered with your own stupid rage?
Is that “Thy will” being done?  Is that forgiving “those who trespass against us?”
St. Ephrem prayed for patience.  I always pray for wisdom (and to know God’s will) and for perseverance (to do it).  This feast day today is a good reminder to me that even if I DID know God’s will, even if I DID resolve to persevere in doing it, still I would have difficulties ---- if anyone got in my way.
Sometimes I pray that God’s will become my will.  Perhaps that is not such a good prayer, because sometimes MY WILL becomes such a focus of my actions, MY MIND disengages.  I assume that my will is right, always, and I feel a righteous anger when I am opposed, at anyone who opposes me.  But sometimes my will IS NOT God’s will, it is just my wanting things my way, for me to be happy.  Sometimes, those opposing me are right to oppose me, and they may be doing what they perceive as God’s will.  And who am I to judge ---- without wisdom, without patience?
Who I am, is the one who prays, and who SAYS, he forgives.  But I need to pray for patience, to be the one who actually DOES forgive.  And then I can sincerely pray each day to Our Father: “and forgive us our trespasses, AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.”
Do not be anxious.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome, and to suffer a confusion which thou hast not deserved, do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.
            -- My Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a’ Kempis,
                 chapter 36:  Against the Vain Judgments of Men

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