How to practice Patience amidst various problems

August 15, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 100
By St. Francis de Sales

Attend to the following advice of St. Gregory:

Whenever you are justly accused of a fault, humble yourself and candidly confess that you deserve more than the accusation that is brought against you; but if the charge be false, excuse yourself meekly, denying your guilt; for you owe this respect to the truth, and to the edification of your neighbour.

But if, after your true and lawful excuse, they should continue to accuse you, do not trouble yourself, nor strive to get your excuse admitted; for, having discharged your duty to truth, you must also do the same to humility, by which means you neither offend against the care you ought to have of your reputation, nor the love you owe to peace and meekness of heart.

Complain as little as possible of the wrongs done you; for, commonly speaking, he that complains, sins, because self-love magnifies the injuries done us, and makes us believe them greater than they really are.

Make no complaints to passionate or censorious persons: but, if complaints are necessary, either to remedy the offence, or restore quiet to your mind, let them be made to the meek and charitable, who truly love God; otherwise, instead of easing your heart, they will provoke it to greater pain; for, instead of pulling out the thorn, they will force it in the deeper.

Many, on being sick, afflicted, or injured by others, refrain from complaining or showing a sensibility of what they suffer, lest it should appear that they wanted Christian fortitude and resignation to the will of God; but still they contrive divers artifices, that others should not only pity and compassionate their sufferings and afflictions, but also admire their patience and fortitude.

Now this is not true patience, but rather a refined ambition and subtle vanity. “They have glory,” says the apostle, “but not with God.” The truly patient man neither complains himself, nor desires to be pitied by others; he speaks of his sufferings with truth and sincerity, without murmuring, complaining, or aggravating the matter; he patiently permits himself to be condoled by others, unless they pity him for an evil which he has not; for then he will modestly declare that he does not suffer on that account: and thus he preserves the tranquillity of his soul between truth and patience, acknowledging but not complaining of the evil.

Amidst the contradictions which shall infallibly befall you in the exercise of devotion, remember the words of our Lord (John, xvi. 21), “A woman when she is in labour hath sorrow because her hour is come, but when she hath brought forth her child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”

Now you desire absolutely to labour to have Jesus Christ in your heart and in your works and you cannot but suffer in your labour; but be of good courage, these sorrows once past, everlasting joy shall remain with you. Jesus, who will live in you, will fill your soul with ineffable happiness.

In sickness offer up all your griefs and pains as a sacrifice to our Lord, and beseech Him to unite them with the torments He suffered for you. Obey your physicians; take your medicines, food, and other remedies, for the love of God, remembering the gall He took for your sake; desire to be cured, that you may serve Him, but do not refuse to continue sick that you may obey Him; dispose yourself to die, if it be his pleasure, that you may praise and enjoy Him for ever.

Remember that as bees, whilst making their honey, live upon a bitter provision, so we can never perform acts of greater sweetness, nor better compose the honey of excellent virtues, than whilst we eat the bread of bitterness, and live in the midst of afflictions.

And, as the honey that is gathered from the flowers of thyme, a small bitter herb, is the best, so the virtue which is exercised in the bitterness of the meanest and most abject tribulations is the most excellent.

Look frequently on Christ Jesus crucified, naked, blasphemed, slandered, forsaken, and overwhelmed with all sorts of troubles, sorrows, and labours, and consider that all your sufferings, neither in quality nor quantity, are comparable to his, and that you can never suffer anything for Him equal to what He has endured for you.

Consider the torments the martyrs have suffered, and those which many at present endure, more grievous beyond comparison than yours, and then say: Alas! are not my sufferings consolations, and my pains pleasures, in comparison with those who, without any relief, assistance, or mitigation, live in a continual death, overwhelmed with afflictions infinitely greater than mine.

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