Charla Ink Slingers

Patience, please.

impatienceI once went to Confession years ago, and as I divulged my many transgressions, I still felt helpless. Typically, I am at peace and have a sense of relief after having let out all that baggage and a cathartic sensation overtakes me, but not this time, not until Father spoke. It wasn’t words of absolution that did it but a question: “Why do you continue to ask God for patience? Ask God for understanding, and then patience will come.” I didn’t quite understand what he was suggesting, but I felt trust in his words. It did not seem too far-fetched and rather reasonable, so I was left with something to ponder. When he gave me absolution, I thought more on this idea and tried to apply it to my life.

My difficulties with patience usually stem from frustrations with dealing with my children. My kids don’t listen to me at times, or they get easily distracted. They aren’t ready quickly enough or they won’t stop talking.  If I put myself in their world, their understanding of their situations, I may gain this patience.  Understanding in this way is most definitely empathy. If I empathize, I become a better version of myself.  I use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given me to be what God envisions for me and to continue on such a path enables my salvation. So maybe my children will in fact be my golden ticket to Heaven.

The mother of one of my students mentioned that her son said he was not going to pray for patience, because then God will give him the opportunities to be patient! Isn’t that so often the truth! We are afraid of the hard work.  We shy away from the challenges God gives us, expecting our lives to be simple and carefree, and quite frankly easy.  Patience isn’t easy; it is quite difficult because we want to focus on ourselves and not on others. We want it NOW; we want others to cater to our whims; we want our way. If we accept people and situations for what they are, it sure brings a sensation of peace, so isn’t patience worth it?

heavenSometimes, I truly feel like I do not actually desire patience. If I am patient, doesn’t that mean I am not enthusiastic or I do not feel emphatically enough about things? Won’t patience hold me back from greatness? Or keep me from pursuing my dreams? Will it make me complacent or content? All these things are actually true, but only in one sense. We should not be patient with ourselves when it comes to a relationship with God. We can’t afford to wait until we think we are ready to be good and holy and virtuous. God is patient with us because He loves us, but if we are patient with a lower standard of holiness for ourselves, it could result in our loss of salvation.  Heaven is too important.  Our Lord is too precious to us to let a relationship with Him slip through our fingers. If there is a time to act, it is now.  We cannot become patient with others; we cannot show empathy to others if we put off a rapport with God.

 I will seek understanding, which will bring patience, which will arouse empathy, which is an important gift of the Holy Spirit.  This level of holiness will help us gain God and gain Salvation.

What tries your patience and what can you do to understand and become empathetic?

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Marriage: A Catholic Understanding

wedding rings on BibleMarriage is one of the cornerstones of our Catholic faith. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This partnership brings man and woman closer to Christ and the two assist each other in getting to heaven. In addition, children are most often the products of marriage. Without children there would be no one to carry on the faith, to become priests and religious, and to enter into marriage and become parents one day themselves. We need holy matrimony to carry on the Catholic faith.

The Church is recognizing more and more that married couples need encouragement and guidance in navigating the complexities of marriage. It is a serious vocation, just as any religious or priestly vocation is. Sometimes couples can lose sight of the seriousness that is marriage. So the Church has provided a number of initiatives to encourage married couples, help troubled marriages, and support traditional marriage** in a society that is increasingly muddying the waters. I’ve provided links at the end of this post to a variety of marriage resources offered by our Church.

In light of the March for Marriage that was held in Washington, D.C. yesterday, I decided to ask a number of Catholic friends and acquaintances to tell me their thoughts on marriage. Specifically, I asked them to describe marriage in 5 words or less. I got a ton of interesting responses, from humorous to sweet to thoughtful. They all reflect a wide range of perspectives and ideas while at the same time conveying a full understanding of why man and woman come together in marriage, of the difficulties, the joys, and everything in between.

Here is what people had to say:

Two imperfect people walking together.

Love that requires supernatural graces.

Helping each other to heaven.

The foundation of the family.

Crazy, fun, unpredictable, solid, journey.

A gift from God.

Three-legged stool: husband, wife, God.marriage 14

We are a true partnership.

Investment, roller coaster, sweet, self-denial, red wine. [We’ll fudge the “5 words or less” requirement for this one.]

Beautiful work building a legacy.

Hard work, much love.

A path to Heaven.

Partners in crime and holiness.

Two that become one flesh.

Peace, support, growth, challenge, total.

We’re servants to each other.

Coordinated discipleship training.

Two words: redemptive suffering.

Different but complementary.

The Trinity on Earth.

Covenant of life-giving love.

A foretaste of Heaven.

We’re on the same team.

Reflection of the Holy Family.

Unity in difference.

Best friends forever.

Till death do us part.

I like it a lot.

Marriage means a lot of things, but in the end, it is a path to holiness, a partnership that brings both parties closer to God and heaven, and has a good dose of craziness, fun, and red wine thrown in. It was clear as I read through the many responses, that there were some themes. The most important being that marriage helps put us on a path to heaven, which is an important part of any vocation.

Add your thoughts: How would you describe marriage in 5 words or less?

**I use the phrase “traditional marriage” here only to illustrate how society views what we in the Catholic Church simply call “marriage.” In our faith, there is only one kind of marriage and it involves the union of one man and one woman. Plain and simple.

Marriage resources:

Marriage: Unique for a Reason: An initiative of the USCCB

For Your Marriage: Another USCCB Initiative

Worldwide Marriage Encounter: A marriage enrichment program aimed at revitalizing Christian marriage.

Retrouvaille: A program to help couples heal and renew their marriages.

Articles on Marriage here at Catholic Sistas.