Mary Virtues, Patience
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Since the world is a place of meriting,
it is rightly called a valley of tears.
We are placed here to suffer, so
that by patience we may bring our
own souls to
life eternal, as Our Lord Himself
says: "By your patience you will win your souls"
(Luke 21:19). God gave us the
Blessed Virgin as a model of all
virtues. But particularly as a model
of patience. Saint Francis de
Sales commenting on the marriage feast at Cana, remarks that
it was precisely for this reason that Our
Lord's answer to the Blessed Virgin
seemed to pay but little attention to her
request: "Woman, what is that to you
and to Me?" (John 2:4). He
did this to give us an example of His
patience. But why do we have to look for examples?
Mary's whole life was one continual
exercise of patience. The angel
said to Saint Bridget: "As a rose grows
up among thorns, so did the Blessed Virgin grow up among tribulations".
compassion for the sufferings
of the Redeemer was enough in itself
to make her a
martyr of patience.
Saint Bonaventure says: "A crucified Mother
conceived a crucified Son". In speaking of
we have already mentioned how much she
her journey to Egypt and
during her stay there, as well as
during the time she spent with
in the house at Nazareth. But what Mary
had to endure when her
crucified on Calvary is
enough in itself to show how constant and steadfast
patience was: There stood by the
cross of Jesus His Mother. It was then, according to Saint
Albert the Great, that she
brought us forth to the life of grace.
If then we wish to be children of Mary,
we must strive to imitate her
can enrich us with greater merit in this life", asks Saint
Cyprian, "or with greater glory in the
next, than the patient endurance of sufferings?"
Divine Wisdom said, by the prophet
Osee: "I will hedge in her way with
thorns" (Osee 2:6). Saint Gregory adds: "The
way of the elect is hedged with thorns". As a hedge of
thorns protects a vineyard, so God
protects His servants from attaching
themselves to the earth by surrounding them with
tribulations. Saint Cyprian concludes, therefore,
that it is patience that delivers us
from sin and
Hell. It is also patience
that produces saints: "Let patience have its
perfect work" (James 1:4).
Patient souls bear in peace
not only the crosses that come
immediately from God, such as
poverty, but also those that come from
and the like. Saint John saw all the saints carrying palm
branches, the emblem of martyrdom,
in their hands: "After this I saw a great
multitude...and palms were in their hands" (Apocalypse
7:9). This meant that all adults who are saved
must be martyrs in some sense,
either through shedding their blood
for Christ or through the practice
of patience. Saint Gregory
urges us to take courage, maintaining that "we
can be martyrs without the executioner's sword, by merely preserving
patience". "Provided, of course",
adds Saint Bernard, "that we endure the
trials of this life not only patiently but willingly and with joy".
What fruit every
pain borne for
God's sake will produce for us in
Heaven! The Apostle encourages us, saying: "For
our present light affliction, which is for the moment, prepares for us
an eternal weight of glory" (2Corinthians 4:17).
Saint Teresa's reflections on this subject are beautiful. She used
to say: "Those who embrace the cross do not
feel it". And again: "Once we have
made up our minds to suffer, there is no more pain".
When our crosses weigh heavily
upon us, let us have recourse to Mary
whom Holy Church calls "comforter
of the afflicted", and whom Saint John Damascene calls
"the remedy for all the sorrows of the heart".
O my sweet Lady, you who were innocent
endured suffering with so much patience. Why do I, who deserve Hell,
refuse to suffer at all? My mother, I now ask you for this favor -
not to be delivered from crosses, but to bear them patiently. For
the love of Jesus, I beg you to obtain this grace from God. I
confidently hope for this from you.