Mirror of Patience

I was fond of reminding people of a popular Confucius saying, “the only thing that endures is change.” It was, at the time, profound. Somewhat kitschy. It worked great at cocktail parties. Those receiving the wise words would usually nod in agreement.

As time passes and as the tilt of life’s sun leans more to the west, it is more true to emphasize that truly, “the only thing that endures is patience.”

Unlike the chaos that swirls around enduring change we can draw comfort in enduring patience. Enduring is probably not the right word. Perhaps I mean endearing.

I imagine patience was easier the farther back in time you go. There was an art to waiting that was required due to the sheer reality of the era. Very few results came as quickly as they do today. Distances were traversed slowly. Letters and communication spread only as fast as a horse’s gallop or a bird’s wingspan. Medical results came in time with the age-old “time will tell” prescription.

Despite the many quick fixes created to satisfy instant gratification or quell anxiety given our generation today, our spirits can remain restless as we wrestle with what troubles us; as we consider and determine the best path forward on our pilgrimage. At times there is no easy resolution and we must wait. It is usually not a very comfortable proposition.

As uncomfortable as that may be we know that we can go to Joseph! In the beautiful Litany to St. Joseph, one exhortation that calls me to contemplation when waiting is “Mirror of Patience, pray for us!

St. Joseph must know what that unsettled feeling of uncertainty is like; that sensation of not knowing what to do next right away. We read in the infancy narrative Joseph received some direction through the message of angels and acted on it; nonetheless, the chasm of unknown between the message and the prayerful process Joseph proceeded to undertake must have have been immense. How did he handle those fears of the unknown, that restlessness of discerning the next best step? The Gospel narrative makes it sound simple,

“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt”… And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod” (St. Matthew 2:13-14).

The Flight to Egypt

There is a lot to unpack between the message and the departure to Egypt, not to mention remaining there until the death of Herod. Joseph surely rested in his faith that all would work out to God’s plan. He most certainly would have pulled strength from the Book of Exodus, when God led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land…after 40 years! (talk about waiting). He would have the consolation of Job who being faithful in suffering met with great rewards. He too would have the prophet Isaiah, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5). St. Joseph rested in that Child’s presence every day.

We have an advocate in St. Joseph, especially fathers leading their wives and children. We can turn to him with confidence to be with us during our times of uncertainty, times when patience is not coming any quicker than a solution. Since our petition may take some time novena’s make a wonderful tradition. They help us refine and be persistent in the petitions we seek. I also believe that after the nine days or thirty days we are more aware of the amazing ways God is interceding in our lives through the able assistance of St. Joseph and have a clearer vision of how we are being called and the solutions available to us to move forward.

Mirror of Patience, pray for us!

Statue of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus

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