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4 Steps to grow in patience, from Pope Francis


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.Media

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/04/24

God himself is slow to anger. Christ showed his patience especially in his Passion. What about us?

Pope Francis’ current general audience series is on vices and virtues. In considering the virtue of patience, he reflected how Jesus especially showed this virtue during the Passion:

It is precisely in the Passion that Christ’s patience emerges, as he accepts being arrested, beaten and unjustly condemned, with meekness and mildness. He does not complain before Pilate. He bears being insulted, spat upon, and flogged by the soldiers. He carries the weight of the cross. He forgives those who nail him to the wood, and while on the cross, he does not respond to provocation, but rather offers mercy.

The Pope also noted how Scripture repeatedly affirms that “faced with our infidelity, God shows himself to be ‘slow to anger’ (cf. Ex 34:6; cf. Nm 14:18): Instead of venting his distaste for man’s evil and sin, he reveals himself to be greater, always ready to start afresh with infinite patience. For Paul, this is the first feature of God’s love.”

But we humans are another story, the Pope admitted.

In everyday life we are impatient, all of us. We need it as an “essential vitamin” in order to get by, but it is instinctive for us to lose our patience and respond to evil with evil. It is difficult to stay calm, to control our instincts, to refrain from bad responses, to defuse quarrels and conflicts in the family, at work, or in the Christian community.

Recalling that we really must work on patience because it is what we are called to as Christians, the Pope offered four tips:

Ask the Holy Spirit for patience

Since, as St. Paul teaches us, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal5:22), one must ask for it from the Spirit of Christ.

Contemplate the Crucified Christ

Contemplate the Crucified One, to assimilate his patience.

Take the people who most annoy you to God

Another good exercise is to take to [God] the most bothersome people, asking for the grace to put into practice towards them that work of mercy so well known, yet so disregarded: patiently enduring troublesome people.

Ask “to look at them with compassion, with God’s gaze, knowing how to distinguish their faces from their faults. We have the habit of cataloging people according to the mistakes they make. No, this is not good. Let us seek people by their faces, their heart, and not their mistakes.”

Get some perspective

Lastly, in order to cultivate patience, a virtue which gives breath to life, it is good to broaden one’s outlook. For example, by not restricting the field of the world to our own troubles, as the Imitation of Christ invites us to do:

“Well may you remember the very painful woes of others, that you may bear your own little ones the more easily,” recalling that “with God nothing that is suffered for His sake, no matter how small, can pass without reward” (III, 19).

And again, when we feel we are in the grip of adversity, as Job teaches us, it is good to open ourselves with hope to the newness of God, in the unwavering confidence that he does not disappoint our expectations. Patience, and knowing how to bear troubles.

ParentingPope FrancisSpiritual Life
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