Don't Be Captive to Impatience

Fr. James, Deacon Dolan, Deacon Ryan, and servers on the third Sunday of Advent.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 15, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I want to say a few things about our second reading, and not only because it's a letter from my namesake, but because the very important topic of patience is addressed.  "You too must be patient," says Saint James.  "Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

Patience.  Oh boy.  How many of us struggle with this virtue? How many of us confess impatience?  Just watch the Bears if you want proof.  Or go to the Touhy/Prospect/Northwest Highway intersection.  Or watch the Bears.  Oh, wait did I already mention that?

Henri Nouwen calls patience an "active waiting" where we find traces of what/who we are hoping for in the present moment.  This allows us to enter fully into the reality before us.  "When we are impatient," he contrasts, "we experience the present moment as empty and we want to move away from it. Much of our commercial culture skillfully exploits our impatience and tempts us to move toward the 'real thing,' which is always somewhere else or at some other time."

Professor Ralph Martin gives this interesting take on impatience:

Impatience is often rooted in pride, as it is an expectation that things should go the way I want them to go, that people should behave in a way I consider responsible, that misfortunes and unforeseen circumstances shouldn't happen to me, and so on. Detaching ourselves from our own self-centered demands, opinions, judgments, and expectations is an important dimension of growth in humility.

Being patient underlies a fundamental trust in God's presence in the current experience.  Again, when we are impatient we subconsciously think this moment has no meaning and is a complete waste of time, thus we need to move on from it.  We are playing God, as we determine what is the reality of the situation (that it is meaningless).  But the patient person believes the situation, as wearisome as it might be, is part of God's plan and has meaning.  Thus there is no pressure or urge to move on from it.  The patient person humbly obeys God and remains.  And in remaining he experiences God and fulfillment in the present moment.

The Baptist's patience was tested.  Sitting in a dank prison cell for months, John finally asks of his cousin, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"  But John doesn't become impatient.  He trusts.  He remains in his prison cell, a nascent Christian, and does not stop his mission of preaching the truth, though it will lead to his martyrdom.  This is why Jesus remarks, "among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist."

Where is your patience being tested in the present moment?  A family member fallen away from the church? The Church? The country? An illness? Your children?

Don't be captive to impatience.  Pray with that issue(s) and ask God for patience.  The Psalmist assures us that "The Lord sets captives free."

The parish penance service is tomorrow, Monday the 16th at 7pm in the church.  SPRED will have a special Christmas Mass this Tuesday.  RE will have its Advent prayer service this Wednesday at 7pm in the church.  The school Christmas concert is Thursday evening in the church.  Our school 8th graders will also be making their annual trip to St. Benedict's Nursing Home to present to the residents gifts made by the 6th-8th graders.  This is a wonderful tradition we have and a great way for our children to bring a smile to the faces of the seniors. 

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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