Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fr. Tanquerey on Patience and Constancy

[511] 1088. 1º Its nature. Patience is a Christian virtue that makes us withstand with equanimity of soul, for the [512] love of God, and in union with Jesus Christ, all physical and moral sufferings. We all have an ample share of suffering sufficient to make us saints, if we would only suffer courageously and from supernatural motives. Many, however, suffer complainingly, in bitterness of heart, at times even in a spirit of rebellion against Providence. Others, again, withstand suffering out of pride or ambition and thus forfeit the fruits of their endurance. The true motive that should inspire us is submission to the will of God (n. 487), and the hope of the eternal reward that will crown our patience (n. 491). Still, the most potent stimulus, is the thought of Christ suffering and dying for us. If He, innocence itself, bore so heroically so many tortures, physical and moral, in order to redeem us and sanctify us, is it not meet that we, who are guilty and who by our sins are the cause of His sufferings, should consent to suffer with Him and with His intentions, in order to cooperate with Him in the work of our purification and sanctification, and to partake in His glory by having shared in His sufferings? Noble and generous souls add to these motives the motive of zeal. They suffer to fulfil [sic] what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ and thus work for the redemption of souls (n. 149). Herein lies the secret source of that heroic patience of the Saints and of their love of the Cross.

1089. 2º The degrees of patience correspond to the three stages of the spiritual life.

a) At the beginning, suffering is accepted as coming from God; without murmur, without resentment, in hope of heavenly rewards. It is accepted in order to atone for faults and to purify the heart; in order to control ill-regulated tendencies, especially sadness and dejection. It is accepted in spite of our natural repugnance, and, if a prayer goes up that the chalice pass away, it is followed by an act of submission to the holy Will of God (Matt. 24:39).

1090. b) Patience, in its second degree, makes us eager to embrace suffering, in union with Jesus Christ, and in order to make us more like that Divine Model. Hence the soul is fond of following Him along the sorrowful road that He took from the Crib to the Cross; it contemplates Him, praises Him, and pours forth its love upon Him in all His sorrowful mysteries: at His entrance into this world when He "emptied Himself"; in His resignation [513] within the lowly crib that was His cradle and wherein He suffered even more from the insensibility of men than from the cold and the elements; amidst the sufferings of His exile, the menial labors of His hidden life, the work, the fatigue, and the humiliations of His public life; but, above all, in the physical and moral tortures of His painful passion. Strengthened by the words of St. Peter (I Pt. 4:1), "Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought," the soul takes new courage in the face of pain and sadness; side by side with Jesus, it tenderly stretches itself forth on the Cross, for love of Him: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross" (Gal. 2:19). When suffering increases, a loving, compassionate glance upon the Crucified Christ brings the response from His lips: "Blessed are they that mourn... blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake" (Matt. 5:10-12). Then, the hope of sharing in His glory in the heavenly places renders more bearable the crucifixion undergone in union with Him: "If we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him" (Rom. 8:17). Nay, the soul at times comes, like St. Paul, to the point where it rejoices in its miseries and tribulations, well knowing that to suffer with Christ means to comfort Him, that it means the completion of His passion, a more perfect love for Him here on earth, and a preparation for the further enjoyment of His love through all eternity: "Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me... (2 Cor. 12:9) I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation" (2 Cor. 7:4).

1091. c) This leads to the third degree of patience, the desire and the love of suffering for the sake of God Whom one wishes to glorify, and for the sake of souls, for whose sanctification one wants to labor. This is the degree proper to perfect souls and especially to apostolic souls, to religious, priests, and devout men and women. Such was the disposition that animated Our Blessed Lord when He offered Himself as victim at His entrance into this world, and which He expressed in proclaiming His desire to suffer the baptism of His Passion: "And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished" (Lk. 12:50).

Out of love for Him and in order to become more like unto Him, perfect souls enter into the same sentiments: "For," in the words of St. Ignatius, "just as men of the world who are attached to the things of earth, love and seek with great eagerness honors, good name, and [514] display among men... so those who march ahead in the ways of the spirit and who earnestly follow Jesus Christ love and ardently desire what is opposed to the spirit of the world... so that were it possible with no offense to God and scandal to the neighbor, they would want to suffer insults, slanders, and injuries, be reckoned as fools, though having given no occasion therefor [sic], such is their intense desire to be likened in some way to Our Lord Jesus Christ... so that with the help of His grace we strive to imitate Him as far as we can, and to follow Him in all things, since He is the true way which leads men to life" (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Exam. generale, cap. IV, n. 44). Evidently, it is only love for God and for the Crucified Christ that can inspire a like love for the Cross and humiliations. [...]

IV. Constancy

1093. Constancy in effort consists in struggling and suffering to the end, without yielding to weariness, discouragement, or indolence.

1º Experience shows that after reiterated efforts one wearies of well-doing, one finds it irksome to be forever obliged to strain the will. St. Thomas remarks: "A special difficulty is attached to long persistence in a difficult task" (Summa Theol., IIa IIae, q. 137, a. 1). [515] Yet, no virtue is solid that has not stood the test of time, that has not been strengthened by deeply rooted habits.

A sense of weariness often results in discouragement and indolence. The annoyance experienced at repeating efforts relaxes the energy of the will and produces a species of moral depression or discouragement; at this juncture, the love of pleasure and a sense of regret [and resentment] at being deprived of it gain the upper hand and one lets oneself be carried by the current of evil tendencies.

1094. 2º In order to react against this weakness, we must remember: 1) that perseverance is a gift of God (n. 127) obtained by prayer. Hence, we must ask insistently for it in union with Him Who persevered unto death, and through the intercession of Her Whom we rightly call Virgin most faithful.

2) We must, after that, renew our convictions as regards the shortness of life and the everlastingness of the reward that crowns our efforts. Having an eternal rest awaiting us we can well afford a measure of annoyance here on earth. If in spite of these considerations we still remain weak and hesitant, then we must beg insistently for that grace of perseverance the need of which we feel so keenly, by repeating the words of St. Augustine: "Grant me O Lord what Thou commandest and then command whatever Thou wilt."

3) Finally, we must go back courageously to our task, supported by the all-powerful grace of God, and work on despite the apparently small measure of success that attends our efforts, remembering that it is effort and not success that God demands. Besides, we must not forget that we need a certain amount of relaxation, of rest, and of diversion. Man cannot live long without some consolation. Constancy does not therefore exclude due rest: "Enjoy thy leisure that thou mayest the better perform thy labor." The important thing is that we take our rest in submission to God's will, according to the rule and advice of our spiritual director.


Source: Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, trans. by Herman Branderis (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2000), 511–515.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments ad hominem or deemed offensive by the moderator will be subject to immediate deletion.