Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors
Christ in Our Hearts
October 27, 2019
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul wrote, “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it
is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going
hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”
This passage provides a beautiful meditation on living in the moment and keeping Christ close
to our hearts in all circumstances. St. Paul wrote these words to the Philippians from a prison cell in
order to assure them that, no matter what persecutions he faced, he would turn to Christ to sustain
him. He also expanded this wisdom to apply not just in moments of suffering, but to an all- encompassing approach to life.
Carrying Christ in our hearts in good times and bad can be a challenge because there are always distractions and temptations to seek more immediate gratification for our emotions. So how are we to strike the balance St. Paul refers to and let Christ reign in our hearts in all circumstances? The key lies in patience. We only rush to anger in times of suffering or overindulgence in times of abundance if we lack the patience to await the deeper satisfaction offered by Christ.
Patience enables us to have mercy in our hearts for those who persecute us, and this mercy allows us to resist the destructive impulses of hatred. Patience also enables us to navigate times of abundance and joy so that we practice moderation and don’t forget the things of the spirit. How much greater is the joy of one who knows how to celebrate in moderation? Their focus is less on themselves and more on bringing joy to others. In doing so they experience the joy of Christ.
Patience can transform every aspect of our lives, from how we handle joy and suffering to how we approach everyday tasks. In a beautiful article for Aleteia, Father Michael Rennier recalls seeing his grandfather disassemble, clean, and then put back together an old rusty hinge so it could continue to function properly. Father Rennier marvels at the patience of his grandfather and notes how difficult it would be for him to have the patience for such a task.
Father Rennier says that impatience is one of the great vices of our time, and he points to St. Cyprian as someone to turn to for intercession on the matter. St. Cyprian was famously impatient in certain disagreements he had with other religious leaders of the early Church, but then he wrote a book called On the Advantage of Patience, drawing on his own experiences and the lessons he learned in striving for patience in his life.
St. Cyprian encourages us to “Wait for each other,” reminding us that patience is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another. Think about the amazing fruits that come about when we show each other patience. It creates a welcome environment for Christ to dwell in our hearts, and this in turn allows us to have the disposition of St. Paul. It enables us to navigate the ups-and-downs of life and allow Christ to reign in our hearts regardless of the situation. So, if you want to be prepared for anything in life, practice patience, and you will have the strength to keep Christ in your heart and allow His peace to sustain you.
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