Our era is an age of extreme selfishness and impatience…
We want everything to be exactly how we want it, with no delays!
Everything is “fast food”, “take out”, instant this, and instant that.
When we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, and get stuck in a big line, we get angry and annoyed with those around us and say to ourselves, “Why is everyone making me have to wait?”
When we are internally stressed with something or a project we are working on fails, we get snappy at everyone without a thought as to how they may be struggling with their own difficulties.
Yet, when someone is slightly unkind to us perhaps because they are down, we cannot tolerate it in the slightest!
At these times we are thinking only of ourselves, and this is a sign that we still have a long way to go before we will reach perfection. Yet, in our defense, I think that many of us hardly realize how much these two faults are ingrained in our lives, since almost everyone else around us is like that also!
The best way to make these serious faults less prevalent in ourselves and those around us, is through prayer, penance and having a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It is primarily by looking to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and the examples of their lives that we will come to fully realize how to properly love, pray and mortify ourselves, and realize just how necessary these things are to help us overcome selfishness and impatience.
Many holy men and women have written on these subjects in order to help us understand them better. They explain just how important love, mortification, and prayer are, and how most of us belittle their necessity. For my part, my first reaction when I am bothered by something is to pray, but I often forget that prayer by itself is not enough. It is not only said that we should “Pray always.” but also that “God helps those who help themselves”. So, we must first try to discover our faults and then mentally and physically fight to overcome them through prayer and the grace of God.
I never realized just how much I was affected by these two sins until I read a couple of very good books called Love, Peace and Joy and Growth in Holiness which I fully recommend everyone to read who wishes to become a saint. Yet, not everyone has the time and some people really struggle reading books. So, I will share a few quotes here which have particularly helped me to realize that I really need to fight more against impatience and selfishness before I shall make much progress in other virtues.
It is recorded that Saint John the Evangelist was asked by Saint Gertrude the Great why he spoke so little in his Gospel about the love of the Sacred Heart. He in turn responded to her by saying:
“My ministry in those early times of the Church was confined to speaking of the Divine Word, the eternal Son of the Father, some words of deep meaning upon which human intelligence might meditate forever, without ever exhausting their riches; but to these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the time-worn world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy, and again be inflamed with the warmth of Divine love.”
(Love, Peace, and Joy “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus According to St. Gertrude the Great”–
By the Very Rev. Andre Prevot)
After quoting this passage in his book, the Very Rev. Andre Prevot explained that love is the means whereby to we shall make atonement to God for the evils of our day and age:
“In fine, it is love which would consume us in its flames in order to sanctify our sacrifices and atone for the faults of this sinful world, to the end that pardon may become the measure of love, even as love has been the measure of pardon…Devotion to the Sacred Heart is the devotion of love, which alone can banish the coldness of our times. The renewal which we seek is a work of love and can be accomplished by love alone.”
The Most Reverend Father Faber (whom I personally believe to be a saint), in his book, Growth in Holiness, explained that we cannot have true love without mortification:
“The true idea of mortification is that it is the love of Jesus, urged into that shape in imitation of Him, partly to express its own vehemence, and partly to secure, by an instinct of self-preservation, its own preservation. There can be no true or enduring love without it, for a certain amount of it is requisite in order to avoid sin and keep the commandments. Neither without it is there any respectable perseverance in the spiritual life. The rest which forms part of the normal state of the spiritual life is not safe without it because of the propension of nature to seek repose in natural ways when supernatural are no longer open to it. Mortification is both interior and exterior; and of course the superior excellence of the interior is beyond question. But if there is one doctrine more important than another on this subject, it is that there can be no interior mortification without exterior; and this last must come first. In a word, to become spiritual, bodily mortification is indispensable.”
After this he went on to speak of its application in our present day and age:
“Indeed modern luxury and effeminacy, which are often pleaded as arguments for an abatement of mortification, may just as well be called forward to maintain the opposite view. For if it be a special view of the Church to bear witness against the world, her witness must especially be borne against the reigning vices of the world; and therefore in these days, against effeminacy, the worship of comfort and the extravagances of luxury. I believe that if this unhappy land is ever to be converted, of which there are many hopes and no signs, it will be by some religious order or orders who shall exhibit to a degraded and vicious people the vision of evangelical poverty in its sternest perfection... If the Church has to witness always against the reigning vices of the world, each soul has likewise, if not to witness, at least to defend itself against them. And how shall it defend itself against the worship of bodily comforts except by depriving itself of them?”
Conclusion and Resolution
We ought to imprint these ideas solidly upon our memory so that, whenever selfishness and impatience start to creep into our hearts; we will have a weapon to use against them. The more we keep them in mind and act applicably, the more quickly we shall be able to overcome our faults, and reach a higher level of sanctity. So, let us pray, do penance and grow in love for everyone around us to the greater honor and glory of God!