THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Fourth Sunday after Easter
29 April 2018
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Charity is the highest of all virtues, and to obtain it we should seek it through many different avenues. One avenue to reach Charity is through the exercise of patience. St. Paul says, among other things, that Charity is patient. With the Apostles, we often become impatient seeking and waiting for God. We often want Heaven now, not later.
The eagerness and fervent desire for God and all that is good, is commendable and desirable. However, as with all things virtue is in the middle. When we become impatient in our desires (even the desire for good things) we fail in the practice of virtue. Likewise when we become indifferent or careless in forming desires for good things we sin on the opposite side.
Our goal is to become filled with a burning love for God and a consuming desire for Him, yet without sacrificing patience. We should strive to suffer this separation as well as all crosses, burdens, and pains as long as God wills us to do so. We do not seek to temper our love and desire for God, but rather that we refrain from becoming anxious about it all things happen in the time frame of God.
While our desire is to be united with Him, we are content to remain here on earth, or in whatever situation it may please Him to keep us, for as long as He desires to keep us here. The patience of true charity inclines us to seek God's Will in everything and thus to sacrifice our own wills and desires.
The impatient love of God is generally self-seeking. We want the joys of heaven and our own pleasure. While this is good, it is just the beginning stages. We must advance in the ways of charity and patience if we are to reach the goal of eternal happiness with God in Heaven. Charity must advance from seeking pleasure for ourselves to the point where we seek and desire only the pleasure of God only His Will. It is through the implementation of patience that we draw nearer to this ideal.
Spiritually, we begin with the attraction of pleasure. We tell children of the joys of heaven and the happiness of soul that God gives to those who love Him. This is acceptable to everyone. We desire God and Heaven because It is Good. Our fallen natures begin with this self-seeking, and so in the spiritual life, we direct this self-seeking to that which is truly worth seeking to that which gives real pleasure and happiness eternal happiness with God in Heaven. Our goal is to lift the mind from the passing pleasures of this earth to the eternal ones of Heaven. We draw our attention to the perishable-ness of all the things of this world, and to the vanity or emptiness of all that passes away. As we elevate our hearts and desires from the material plane to the spiritual plane we advance in the spiritual life. However, we are still far away from the goal.
Even as we increase this desire for the spiritual pleasures we are still just beginning because it is still all about us and our pleasure. When this love reaches a fever pitch and we grow anxious with longing and desire for the joys of Heaven, then we uncover another aspect of virtue. We are taught to be patient.
Patience instills or increases peace in our souls. The turmoil that was created by the burning desire that consumes us drives peace away from our souls. Patience restores calmness and peace returns. This is why Jesus often greets His disciples with, "Peace be to you." To be at peace with our separation from God for a time (even if it is a very long time) is possible through the practice of patience. However, even the longest period that we can imagine is still very short compared to God and eternity.
Jesus is Love. He came to this earth to give us Himself to give us love. To receive Him we must be at peace. This is why we read of His frequent greeting and giving of peace, as well as the declaration of the angels at His birth: "Peace to men of good will." This peace is only made possible through the virtue of patience.
When we learn to be patient in our desires for good things, as well as being patient in bearing with our infirmities (crosses and sufferings), peace enters into our souls. When we are then in the possession of this peace, love or Charity, then fills our souls. We advance from the desire of possessing God, to the higher degree of desiring to be possessed by God. From seeking our own wills to wanting nothing other than what God wills. Patience in all things makes this possible.
Let us not trouble ourselves if we are yet far from this degree of patience and love. But, rather in all patience pray to God to advance us or hold us back as He sees fit. Let us seek to put our own wills aside and be patiently at peace with all things that God decrees or allows in our lives.
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