"My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.
I give you as a model the charity of Paul which he showed to his new converts. They often reduced him to tears and entreaties when he found them lacking docility and even opposing his loving efforts.
See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or willfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger.
This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.
There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for true fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement.
In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty."
(From a letter of Saint John Bosco, used for the Office of Readings)
Patience is a virtue long sought after by most, and hopelessly despaired of by others. Far less than one of the romantic virtues, it is also one of the hidden ones, practiced daily and witnessed by few if any. And yet, perhaps it is so difficult to attain because it must be practiced so often. Patience requires a temperate attitude, something that is frequently thought unnecessary in today's society. It necessitates a sacrifice of the emotions, and a discipline of the will.
It is not only cultivated in a gentle heart, but in an attentive one as well. It would be a mistake to think one who has a nonchalant personality was a person who automatically possessed patience: far from it. Patience is not performed in isolation, nor does it stem from indulgence. Christ showed great patience towards his apostles, but never indifference. Whereas others would dread the exertions necessary to engage others, He gently and patiently was attentive to all for He sought the love of all. He did not seek to simply deal with crowds; instead desiring to enter into communion with each individual He encountered.
Living a life of patience may seem burdensome if one understands it to mean that he must rely on his own strength and endurance. It might appear impossible if he gives into despair when he inevitably gives vent to frustrations from time to time. "But with God, all things are possible." We need only say,"Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Like all the virtues, it requires of us to not only ask for the grace to perform the virtue, but also ask for the desire for it. When we recall our good God's patience with us, it might help us to be patient with others.