A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘patience

As I sat down to write this post, the title of an Erma Bombeck book popped into my mind: Family—The Ties That Bind…and Gag!

I could be talking about members of our church family we don’t get along with, but that might be a post for another day. In this case, I’m talking about family members we spend time with over the holidays.

Maybe we have a mother who pushes food on us when we’re trying to lose weight, a sibling who can’t let go of the rivalry, an aunt who always asks when we’re going to get married or have children, or in-laws who criticize the way we’re raising our family.

Or maybe we find it stressful to spend much of the holidays, or even just Christmas dinner, in close quarters with our extended family—and maybe it’s partly because of the way we view their words and actions.

This weekend, I read a wonderful quote from The Imitation of Christ in the “Celebrate December 2014” column of Catholic Digest:

Endeavour to be patient in bearing the defects and infirmities of others of whatever kind; for you also have many things which others must bear with.

Isn’t that the truth! We focus so much on the things that bother us about other people that we can easily forget we might be annoying them, too.

Maybe we won’t let anyone else help with Christmas dinner because they won’t make things the way we would—and then we complain about how much work it is. Or we insist on doing all the decorating ourselves instead of sharing the fun. Or we don’t leave room for our spouse’s family traditions. Or we exchange many of the presents we receive.

playful housecat

My “picture perfect” holiday includes cats that “help” tidy up the gift wrap…

Instead of striving for a holiday celebration that will “nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives,” as we hear about in “Sleigh Ride,” we need to remember that we’re all human, all flawed, and all in need of forgiveness. We need to be patient with one another and grateful that we’re still here to spend another Christmas together.

I pray that we would look past others’ faults and that they would look past ours so that we don’t miss out on the joys of celebrating Christmas.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and all the best in 2015.

And speaking of the new year, I’m taking a short break from this blog to spend time with my family over the holidays, but I’ll be back with another post on January 5th.


In a world where so much is instant, or at least quick—such as coffee from single-serve machines, pre-cooked bacon, or high-speed Internet access—we can easily forget the value of things that take longer to make. And the skills that making them requires.

For example, we get used to buying our clothes and baked goods. I remember the wonderful clothes my mother used to make for me with her sewing machine, but I have no talent for sewing. And when people tell me they enjoy the bread or cookies I make, sometimes they admit they don’t know how to bake without using a mix.

But there’s one thing in particular that we don’t value enough today: patience.

Patience is something I struggle with. If I’m stuck in traffic on the road or sidewalk or wait more than a few minutes in line, I get frustrated because I’m anxious to reach my destination, and it has nothing to do with being on time. And it seems that, more and more often, we cut off other drivers in traffic, heave great sighs as we wait for our turn at the library checkout, and fire off e-mails a bit too quickly.

We find it increasingly difficult to stand in line, to wait for items we’ve ordered to arrive, to delay gratifying our wishes. Unfortunately, that also means we’re quicker to lose our temper.

But James 1:19-20* has a timely reminder for us:

Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

Slow doesn’t come easily to us these days. But when we’re too quick to speak or to become angry or frustrated, we may not give someone the chance to apologize or explain. We may miss out on something important our children are trying to tell us with their words or their behaviour. We may not give our colleagues the opportunity to share ideas that would benefit the group. We may ignore the fact that someone else’s need is more pressing. And we may say or do things we’ll regret later.

I pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, would teach us how to slow down and practise the virtue of patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

~ Galatians 5:22-23

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Saint Joseph . . . You presided over the events of [Jesus’] infancy, and your labors provided food and shelter for the Creator of the universe. You offered him and Mary love and unselfish devotion. . . . [T]he Church, with good reason, cries out, “Go to Joseph!”

– From “Prayer to Saint Joseph: Patron of Workers” in the Holy Family Prayer Book

When my son was a toddler, one of his many loud toys with push buttons featured these two sayings: “Daddy loves you” and “Let’s sing with Mommy.”

True, kids need to hear that their father loves them, but they also need to see that he does. And they need their father to model for them what a good father and husband looks like.

Here are some of the things my father modelled for my brother and me:

Dad and MinPins

My dad and two friends

The value of education. My father was the first in his family to attend university. He encouraged us to work hard in school, made me take classes in math and sciences when I no longer had to in high school so I’d “keep my options open,” and help put us through university.

The value of hard work. Now retired, Dad worked hard at his job but tried not to bring the stresses of the job home with him. Dad fixes things around the house when he can and calls repairmen when he can’t. He raises some livestock; grows a lot of fruit, vegetables, flowers and houseplants; and shares what he grows with us.

Patience. Dad worked with me until I could say “She sells seashells by the seashore” so I wouldn’t have a lisp when I started school. He explained geometry concepts to me over and over until I understood. And he started teaching me how to drive when I turned 16, although the first lesson just involved checking around the car, adjusting the seat and mirrors, and going to the bottom of the driveway and back up.

The importance of family. My parents used to have my mother’s much younger brother for a long visit each summer, even though he really tried Dad’s patience (faking asthma attacks, somehow cutting the lawnmower cord a foot from the plug, etc.). Dad checked in on his father several times a week, even though he was difficult to deal with. He regularly drove us to visit my mom’s mother, and he helped clean out her house so she could sell it. He calls his brothers on their birthdays and checks up on them when they’re ill.

Love. Dad is kind of reserved, but when I was a little girl, he’d tickle me until I couldn’t breathe and let us hang on his legs while he tried to walk down the hall. He got choked up when I sang at my uncle’s wedding and when he first met my son. And my dad usually finds a gift to hide on the Christmas tree for my mother, which he’s been doing for…oh, a few decades.

I am very thankful for my father and his example.

This Father’s Day, may we give thanks for and honour the fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and other father figures who show their children how to be a loving husband and father and follower of Jesus.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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