St. Catherine of Siena (1347–1380), Doctor of the Church and Patron Saint of Italy, was a towering political figure of her time. She spent her short life playing peacemaker among the warring clans in Siena and even went to Avignon to help convince the Pope to move the papacy back to Rome (after 67 years in France!), which he then did.
Catherine knew a thing or two about patience. And dealing with difficult people.
Her writings give us a peek into the inner life of one who set her priorities to be very close to God—and they inspire us to do that, too. Here are the words that God the Father spoke to her about the value of patience, recorded in her famous book The Dialogue.
“O glorious virtue! How pleasing you are to me!….On insult shines patience, the queen who reigns over all the virtues because she is the heart of love. She is the sign and signal of the soul’s virtues, showing whether or not they are rooted in me, eternal Truth.
“She conquers and is never conquered. Her companions are courage and perseverance, and she returns home victorious. When she comes from the battlefield she returns to me, the eternal Father and rewarder of every labor, and she receives from me the crown of glory.”
What inspires you most about these words? I often repeat “Patience is the heart of love” when my laptop (or a coworker) is acting up or when my speedometer reads 3 mph in traffic.
Catherine wrote: “To the servant of God, every time is the right time and every place is the right place.” I might add to that “every person is the right person!” Can we consider that each person is a gift given to us to bring us closer to God? It’s hard to see it that way sometimes, right?
Changing the story
If we’ve built a story in our mind that someone “always does that” or is “out to get me,” we’re blocking the action of God. We’re keeping something fresh and new from coming in.
We don’t tolerate abuse and sometimes have to take action to protect ourselves or others. But the tips below are ways to change the story in our mind. To keep our connection with God strong when we’re tempted to be impatient, that is, shift our attention away from God’s love to take someone else’s behavior personally.
- Imagine the reasons why a person behaves the way they do. Do they dislike themselves? Are they still fighting battles from childhood? Are they in physical or mental pain?
- Call to mind that they didn’t wake up this morning saying, “I’m devoting my day to driving Marge crazy.” It’s not about you.
- Remember that God loves them as much as he does you.
- Write down the things you imagine God loves about them.
- Pray that they receive the same blessings today that you desire for yourself.
These are ways I’ve battled the temptation to be impatient with my fellow sinners. I hope you find them useful, too!
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!