We are all impatient for this period of suffering and isolation to end. We all desire a return to normalcy. This impatience and desire can lead to frustration, anxiety, and eventually rage, which can poison our spiritual development. As I suffer through this pandemic, I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the pain that causes spiritual growth—the pain of my own cross, which I must take up and bear—and the pain that inhibits spiritual growth: the anxieties, the slothful despondency, that prevents me from turning to God and growing toward Him.
Pray for us, O Theotokos, and help us discern our between the work of God within us and our passions, that we may extinguish them.
Father Seraphim Aldea’s lovely recent video on patience is well worth watching. It was posted earlier this week on the Orthodox Monastery of All Celtic Saints’s YouTube feed. Father Seraphim draws a link between impatience and our forefather Adam’s first sin, which was the product of impatience with his own development toward becoming like God: “Remember,” he says, “that patience is linked to obedience the sam way that impatience is linked to disobedience. … Because of [Adam’s] lack of obedience, he was born before his time, he was born like a fetus into the world instead of the man, the Christ-like man, God wanted him to be. Patience is the only way, because patience changes us. Patience starts anew that process of transformation. … Patience is a spiritual cross: once you are on it, you are caught in this state of tension. But a state of tension is precisely what we need in order to work our salvation.”
Father Seraphim concludes, “Patience is the one virtue that heals everything. Patience heals everything that is poisoned in our relationship with our neighbor and with ourselves. Patience can heal anger, patience can heal lust, can heal greed and everything that separates us from loving ourselves and loving our neighbor. Patience is also able to heal the relationship between ourselves and God: patiences has this extraordinary ability to heal the things that are almost un-healable, and that includes disobedience and even includes pride, because there is a very clear, direct link between pride and impatience. … Behind Adam’s lack of patience lies this basic human pride that we can get this done quicker and easier. Nothing worthwhile is easy and instantly achievable. Nothing that should have the energy, the spiritual energy, to get us through that moment of death, to resurrect us…nothing of that intensity can be easy or instantly achievable. And yet, even to this day, all this time after Adam has fallen, we still believe that we can do things better by ourselves…we don’t like the idea that one has to struggle, that one has to force oneself to do things that one doesn’t like, to go through periods of one’s life that don’t feel right. We do not want to let go of ourselves and to trust God. We trust our feelings more than God. We trust our brains more than God. We trust our life experience more than God. If we were just patient and if we just held on to Christ’s teaching despite our feelings…we would see…the fruit of true God-given grace within ourselves.”