The patience needed for a long illness or to help one through it

February 19, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 181
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

UPON LONG ILLNESSES.

Violent sicknesses either pass quickly or they carry us to the grave; slow maladies drag wearily on and exercise the patience of the sufferers, nor less that of those who tend them.

Our Blessed Father says on the subject:

Long sicknesses are good schools of mercy for those who wait upon the sick and of loving patience for those who suffer.

They who wait upon the sick are at the foot of the Cross with our Lady and St. John, whose compassion they imitate; the sick man himself is on the Cross with our Saviour, Whose Passion he imitates.

But how can we imitate either this compassion or this Passion if we do not suffer from the motive of the love of God? For the Blessed Virgin and St. John, the beloved Disciple, were moved by a compassion as much more sorrowful than ours, as their love for the Crucified, their own dearest Lord, was greater than ours can be. It was at the foot of the Cross that the sword of grief pierced Mary’s soul, and it was there that the beloved disciple drank that chalice of bitterness, which, after permitting him to share the glories of Thabor, the Saviour predicted should be his.

The whole life of a true Christian is one long period of suffering. Those who endure not with Jesus Christ are not fit to reign with Him. Our Blessed Father says:

O soul in grace, thou art not yet the spouse of Jesus glorified, but of Jesus crucified. This is why the rings, necklaces, and other ornaments which He gives you, and with which He is pleased to adorn you, are crosses, nails, and thorns; and the marriage feast He sets before you gall, hyssop, and vinegar. It is in Heaven we shall possess the rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, the wine, the manna, and the honey.

The world is a vast quarry in which are hewn out and shaped those living stones which are to build up the heavenly Jerusalem, as the Church sings:

Thou too, O Church, which here we see,
No easy task hath builded thee.
Long did the chisels ring around!
Long did the mallet’s blows rebound!
Long worked the head, and toiled the hand!
Ere stood thy stones as now they stand.

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