Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena Week #7, Pray for Patience in our priests

Are you a patient person? How would you react to the following scenario: You just purchased your elderly mother a brand new iPhone, but she is having problems using it. Do you,
a)    Listen calmly, go through each step with her, and go over it again until she understands?
b)    Try to explain the problem, but bite your tongue as you find yourself getting frustrated?
c)     Raise your voice, take the phone from her to work the problem out, give it back to her, and leave immediately?

Patience is a virtue central to the life of any authentic Christian. Yet is the virtue which most folks struggle with. Don't we say in confession, “I need more patience!"

Patience is a virtue so critical for the priest. A priest is to act in person of Christ, meaning that people would walk away with the experience of encountering Christ when they meet a priest. However, people have been shocked by priests who are powder kegs, volatile, angry, dismissive--in short, impatient.

More than ever today are there temptations against patience for the good priest. The demands made upon him, the different understandings of his ministry that people have; the expectations multiply, the resources shrink, and the faithful priest is often tempted to blow up, to lash out, to give up, to become tepid, or to leave it behind.

Priests are tempted to impatience with the Lord in his prayer life. He may argue with God, "Where were
you? Why did you not appear at the beginning, so that you could stop my distresses?" A wise priest gives this advice to an impatient priest, "We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and the wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and he will come. He never comes to those who do not wait."

Some young priests (including myself) have problems being patient with people--impatient with bishop, the diocesan structures, with the parish ministers, with the teachers at school and the DRE, with the secretary. Of course, it's always the other person's fault. So they want a new assignment...so they want to go on a graduate work...so they want some time off...so no one wants them..so they leave... Spare us ! Any bishop would much prefer the man who patiently approaches his assignment, willing to learn, eager to serve, ready to bend, and earning the trust of his people before he starts changing everything.

What helps priests maintain their patience with others? Humility helps : pride leads to impatience because it tempts them to think they know best and have all the answers. Humility helps them admit that these people, this parish, this assignment — these were all here long before them and will be here long after them, and they are but an instrument .

Another help? Interpreting slights, inconveniences, and less-than-perfect situations as occasions of grace and opportunities to grow in virtue. St. Rose of Lima said, “Without the burdens of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.”

Let us pray that our priests will increase in their virtue of patience, that they will trust God and be patient in the midst of trying times.

(The reflection above was taken in part from Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millenium)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with him forever in the next. Amen.