We resist anxiety, fear, and worry by practicing holy patience, just like the Blessed Mother did
This article was written in 2022. Re-published for Pentecost 2023. Modified slightly for timeliness
On the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday of 2022, I kept Our Lady company for 15 minutes by meditating on the third Glorious mystery, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
[For information about the First Saturday Devotion, what it is, how to do it, click here]
In that meditation, I was in the upper room with Mary and the Apostles on the day of the first Pentecost as they were praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. The apostles were praying in different places throughout the room, but the Blessed Mother was in the center, which is kind of fitting. But they did not appear to be in the same state or frame of mind. Because while the Apostles appeared anxious at prayer, Mary appeared patient and at peace. This holy patience is what I focused on, and it’s something important I want to share with you.
The day of Pentecost isn’t the first time Mary encountered the Holy Spirit. She encountered Him before, at the moment of the Incarnation of Our Lord, when Jesus was conceived in her womb by the same Holy Spirit. The Incarnation happens in the first Joyful mystery of the Rosary. What I have always found inspiring in that mystery is how Mary demonstrates total trust in God in that moment. Total faith, total trust, total confidence. Despite the weightiness of the news that she will conceive and bear the Son of God, there is no fear in her because she has total and perfect trust in God. Now, during my meditation on Pentecost, I saw that total trust manifested again in the form of holy patience.
Patience is the virtue of waiting for the Good. It isn’t merely persevering or waiting quietly. Patience bears the characteristics of hope and faith as well as diligence. Hope is confidence in God—a knowing. Faith is a trust in God—a believing. Patience, then, is the surety that the Good will occur because we know and believe in the goodness and love of God. And because we are confident in these things, we wait without anxiety, without fear, without uncertainty. We wait in total peace, even when circumstances or our environment are perilous or unsettling.
As I meditated on Mary and the apostles praying in that upper room, I perceived that the Apostles appeared anxious, not patient. But the Blessed Mother didn’t show any anxiety at all. She seemed at total peace as she prayed. She was waiting for the Holy Spirit, just as the Apostles were waiting for the Holy Spirit. But she was waiting with holy patience while the Apostles—at least in my meditation—seemed anxious.
Mary’s patience was on clear display in my meditation. She hoped in the Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit; she never doubted it. She had faith and trust in God’s providence. She was diligent in prayer and through suffering. She didn’t just wait, as the apostles were waiting. She waited patiently through the same tribulation the apostles were experiencing, and so she waited peacefully, despite tribulation.
None of this shows a failure of the Apostles so much as it demonstrates Our Lady’s greatness (And, therefore, God’s greatness). She is God’s perfect creature, perfect in all virtue. She did not fear because she had total trust in God. Because she had such perfect trust and perfect hope, she had perfect patience. Just as we wait patiently—and therefor without fear or anxiety—for the sun to rise, the Holy Virgin always patiently waited for the Good even if she didn’t know when or how it was going to happen. All of this made me think about the other times in Mary’s life when she demonstrated this perfect patience. But I’ll let you consider that on your own.
We also should demonstrate patience in our times. These times are dark, perilous, and flat-out crazy. Are we waiting anxiously for whatever comes next, or are we patiently, prayerfully, persevering in holiness through it all, unworried and at total peace in Christ?
I feel like I’m waiting for God to make his next move, whatever it is. A renewal? A revival? A sign? A chastisement? I don’t know what’s next. Neither did the Apostles. Neither did Our Lady. But while the environment of our times can cause me to wait anxiously and nervously, and fearfully for God’s next move, I choose to be at peace and to wait with holy patience, just as our Blessed Mother did. I will wait in peace, with the hope and confidence that God will make everything right. I don’t know how he will do that, but I know that He will. And so I won’t worry. I’ll have holy patience and will pray, work, and live the life he has given me in total peace.