Lent Reflection day 37
Yesterday I spoke about my own struggles in acquiring the virtue of patience. In the thirty-seventh chapter of Unseen Warfare, the authors provide another tool that we can use to acquire the virtues, and they use patience as their example. I’ll quote the last part of the chapter:
Suitable sayings from the Divine Scriptures, if said aloud or merely repeated mentally, have a wonderful power for impressing in our mind the image of the virtue we seek and for arousing a longing for it in the heart. And how great is the help received from both these by a man who strives to attain virtue! So find in the Scriptures appropriate texts concerning the virtue you seek and learn them by heart, so as always to have them ready at hand. Repeat them mentally as often as possible, especially when the opposite passion begins to move in you.
For instance, when you work on attaining the virtue of patience, you may choose, learn by heart and repeat the following texts from the Scriptures; ‘He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding’ (Prov. 14:30). ‘Thy expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever’ (Ps. 9:19). ‘Woe unto you that have lost patience!’ (Wisdom of Sirach 2:14). ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city’ (Prov. 16:30). ‘In your patience possess ye your souls’ (Luke 21:19). ‘Let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ (Heb. 12:1). ‘Behold, we count them happy which endure’ (James 5:11). ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation’ (James 1:12). ‘Let patience have her perfect work’ (James 1:4). “Ye have need of patience’ (Heb. 10:36).
To these you may add your own short prayers: the following or some others like them—‘My God! When shall my heart at last be armed with patience!’—‘When shall I, at last, endure every affliction with an untroubled heart, that my God may rejoice over me!’ ‘O how welcome are the afflictions, which make me more like my Lord Jesus, Who has suffered for my sake!’ ‘O my Jesus! Grant me at least sometimes to live untroubled among a thousand afflictions, to the glory of Thy name!’—‘Blessed shall I be if in the fire of tribulations I shall be set aflame with the desire to endure still greater sufferings!’
In order to make progress in virtues, such prayers should be used as the spirit of faith and piety directs, in accordance with the virtue in which you are particularly training yourself. Such short prayers should be rightly called, in the words of the Prophet, ‘ways’ to the altars of the Lord in the heart (Ps. 83:4), which, starting from a heart filled with faith and hope, ascend to heaven and reach the ears of God. These are the ‘pantings’ (Ps. 37:10) which the merciful Lord never fails to see. These are the cries which are always heard and understood by the most bountiful God (Ps. 5:2). But one must not forget to add to them two convictions, which are like a pair of wings: the first, that God rejoices when He sees us working to attain virtue; and that, while filled with an ardent desire to gain perfection in them, we seek nothing but to please God.
Memorizing brief passages of scripture - what a great suggestion. Anything to keep that dreaded forgetfulness away from us, so that we may acquire the virtues.
Today we come to the last Tuesday of the Lenten fast, brothers and sisters, and Unseen Warfare has given us good and practical advice. Let us remember and heed the words of the Psalm (23:3-4): Who shall ascend to the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place? He who has innocent hands and a pure heart.”