Scribbles, &c.

The mystery of patience

Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO writes about the virtue of patience throughout the Western monastic tradition, then explicates it as a mystery in this beautiful passage below. In order to arrest anger, I sought to cultivate patience. In cultivating patience, we seek to open the expanse of the love of Christ within us, providing a boundless sea in which the hurts we encounter - our own or those of others - can dissolve away. 

There is a mystery involved in patience. It may be explained thus. Often when we know the full story behind some set of circumstances we are happy to endure inconvenience and even pain. Once we have perceived that the hostile actions of others really derive from their own suffering and not from malice in our regard, it becomes easier to anticipate and endure rough treatment at their hands. In fact, in dealing with another individual, we are encountering somebody who is severely scarred by the malice and indifference of others. If we really understood how much a victim this other person is, we would be compassionate and not condem­natory. What he is doing is handing on the evil that was done to him and we are the recipients. Our pain has its ultimate origins, perhaps, in the first human be­ings. Each generation is wounded and perpetuates its pain by inflicting it on others. Genuine Christian patience calls a halt to this seemingly inevitable transmission. It receives evil and instead of passing it on, it absorbs it. This line of malice is not continued; it goes no further. Injuries are not repeated; the pro­cess is halted. Patience puts an end to the endless cycle of mutual hurt. In his lifetime this is what Christ did and it is to this that he calls us.

“The Virtue of Patience in Western Monastic Tradition.” Cistercian Studies 21, no. 1 (1986): 3–23.