March 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

xjames bundy

The virtue of patience will see us all through

James Bundy finds lessons from the saints for the present crisis.

Westminster Underground station is usually a buzz. People from all parts of London come together to work at the heart of our country. By mid-March, this had all changed.

I stood alone, and silence fell upon the platform before the sound of an overdue train emerged.

It was a surreal moment and, for me, marked the spell when I knew we were in the midst of the period of our history which is going to permanently change how the we interact with each other in the world for generations to come.

Risk factors

Our immediate prayers and thoughts should go to everyone around the world who is over 70, or has an underlying health condition, is pregnant, a health worker, or works in Governments. We ask the Lord to protect them, and give them the strength and wisdom to make the right decisions over the next few weeks and months.

We must also be realistic with ourselves. We are going into the unknown, and mistakes are going to be made. Human life will be lost on a scale unimaginable in the West only a few months ago. The earthly emotions this will unleash will be the greatest test that those who strive for the Heavenly virtues will have faced for a long time.

In the midst of the crisis we are in, we must continue in our attempts to acquire these virtues in order to survive. There is a beautiful prayer written by St Thomas Aquinas which includes the lines: “Through temperance exercise restraint, and through fortitude endure adversity with patience.”

Faith and virtue

Practising the virtues of temperance, restraint, fortitude and patience are how we are going to overcome the situation we are in, and support those who are most at risk.

Temperance can be demonstrated by shopping in moderation. There have been too many images across the media of empty shelves in stores across the country.

Those impacted most by this ‘panic-buying’— which should be described as ‘selfish-buying’—are those who are most vulnerable to the virus. If this selfish-buying continues, it would be entirely appropriate for the Government to force stores to start rationing.

Prevention

This, however, could hamper the extraordinary voluntary efforts some people are putting in. The best solution, therefore, is for people to buy only what they need, and we need to encourage as many people to do this.

For social distancing to be a success, restraint must practised out by everyone. We all want to show love to those who feel worried, but traditional ways of showing love—hugs, kisses and shaking hands—could actually hurt those most at risk.

The emotional struggle each of us will feel adapting to this will be great, but we must remind ourselves that it is for the greater good. Being in control of our behaviour and emotional instincts in front of loved ones is the greatest show of love we can demonstrate in the next few months.

Societal changes

Times of adaptation, change, and uncertainty are always tough. Certainty and consistency bring peace to humanity, and sudden change can easily unnerve us all. Yet we need to face this social and economic change with fortitude.

This does not mean ignoring the Government advice. In fact, that is the cowardly approach as it is avoiding the reality we live in, and that reality is the need to change how we live our lives. Following the Government advice and trying to make the best of it is the courageous thing to do.

Try and learn a new hobby, or a new language, or pick up a book that you always wanted to read. Whatever self-isolation tip you think will work for you, try it with passion and, even in this time of great difficulty, you will thrive.

Patience

The virtue that everyone will need, no matter what you are currently doing just now, is patience. The next few months will be long. There will be ups and there will be downs. There will be signs of hope, but there will also be stories of despair.

Coronavirus is not going to go away overnight. We are all in this in the long-haul. We must avoid becoming anxious as the signs of distress increase, hard as this will be.

We must tolerate the fact that the Government will take actions we personally disagree with by remembering that every decision is taken with the advice of science to save lives. We must bear with our liberties being restricted during this period because, without these measures, these liberties would be enjoyed by fewer people once this is over—and it will be over.

Coping mechanism

Most readers of this will be Catholic, and our Faith gives us the best mechanism personally to deal with this crisis. Having a growing and trusting relationship with Our Lord, Our Lady and all the Saints automatically brings an inner peace.

In times of self-isolation, we have more time to pray, meditate and read. We should all use this period of uncertainty around the earth to bring stability to our spiritual lives.

There is a beautiful quote from St Teresa of Avila, and I urge you all to take great hope in it: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you. Though all things pass, God does not change. Patience wins all things. But he lacks nothing who possesses God, for God alone suffices.”

May the Lord grow within us during this difficult period. I will be praying for you all.

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