Saturday, October 21, 2017

Love does not exist without patience.
Saint Cyprian of Carthage.

   Love is the bond of fellowship, the foundation of peace, the link and strength of unity. It is greater than both faith and hope. It comes before both good works and martyrdoms, and since it is eternal it will always remain with us in God's presence in the realms of heaven.
    But if you remove patience, love no longer endures. Remove the substance of endurance and tolerance and it has no roots or strength to persevere. For this reason the Apostle spoke about love in the same breath as tolerance and patience.
“Love”, he says, “is worthy of a great soul, love is kind, love does not envy, nor is it full of pride, it does not rise in anger or think any evil, but is content with all things, believes in all things, finds hope in all things and endures all things”. Thus he shows how it is able to persevere, since it knows how to endure all things. And in another place he says: “Sustaining one another in love, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. He showed that neither unity nor peace can be preserved unless we love one another with mutual understanding and guard the bond of harmony by the mediation of patience.
    Patience, my dear brothers and sisters, not only preserves what is good: it repels what is evil. Favorable to the Holy Spirit, and in harmony with what is celestial and divine, it struggles by its power of resistance against those actions of the flesh and body by which the soul is overcome and captured. Let us now consider just a few examples from many which will serve to illuminate the others. Adultery, deceit, murder are mortal crimes. Let the heart be strengthened and fortified by patience, so that neither the sanctified body nor the temple of God is polluted by adultery. Nor should that innocence which has been dedicated to righteousness be stained with the contagion of deceit. Nor should the hand which has taken the Eucharist be besmirched with the sword and bloodshed.
    It is patience and endurance that enables us not to swear or curse, not to recover things taken from us, to receive a blow and turn our cheek to our attacker, to forgive a brother who sins against us not seventy times seven but absolutely all his sins, to love and pray for our enemies and persecutors. Stephen showed just such patience when he was stoned by the violence of the Jews, and he sought not revenge for himself but pardon for his murderers saying: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”. Such was the noble end to the first martyr of Christ who, in foreshadowing future martyrs in a glorious death, did not only preach the passion of the Lord, but also imitated his most patient gentleness.
    What should I say of that anger, discord, or hatred, which should not be present in a Christian? If true patience is in our heart, then these will not be able to find room within it, or if they attempt to enter, they will soon be excluded and forced to leave, so that the heart shall continue to be a place of peace where the God of peace loves to dwell. The Apostle warns us and teaches us saying: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit to whom you were consigned until the day of redemption. Cast out all your bitterness and anger and indignation and empty noise and blasphemy”. For if a Christian has escaped from all the rage and strife of the flesh as from the tempests of the sea, and has now entered in gentleness and tranquility the port of Christ, then we should keep our hearts free from all anger and discord, for we must neither return evil with evil, nor bear hatred to anyone.

Christians being fed to lions in the Colosseum of Rome

Cyprian of Carthage(1991).
Born to New Life.