Patience is a virtue not easily acquired in today’s culture. We are busy, restless people who get too easily distracted by entertainment and constant change. Restlessness inevitably leads to pettiness and boredom — and we seemingly begin to live for cheap, momentary pleasures more than the hope of sustainable, enduring goodness.
Patience is the handmaid of hope. It resigns and restricts human avarice with the knowledge that something greater, more assuring, lies on the horizon of our experience. That is why St. Hilary can write confidently that “Our fathers awaited you; all the righteous men from the beginning of the world have hoped in you and have not been confounded.”
Patience is not a vice to hamper desire or progress, as it is often thought to be. Rather, patience is a practice that gently shapes, forms, and orders our desires toward truth, beauty, and goodness. In solidarity with those before us, we sit patiently, though no less hopefully and expectantly, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like them, we eschew petty dreams and cheap thrills so we may be ready to attend to our Lord on the day of his visitation.
May the peace of our Lord comfort you during this Advent season as you wait patiently for his return.
Hilary of Poitiers, Discourses, I, 1ff.
O awaited one of the peoples! Those who await you will not be disappointed. Our fathers awaited you; all the righteous men from the beginning of the world have hoped in you and have not been confounded. Indeed, when our mercy was received in the heart of your temple, the joyful choruses made heard their praises and sang, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Mk 11:9). I have tirelessly awaited the Lord, and he has turned his gaze toward me.
Then, recognizing divine majesty in the lowliness of flesh, they said, ‘Here is our God! We have awaited him; he will save us! He is the Lord; we have awaited him patiently, and we will exult and rejoice in his salvation!’ . . . While others trouble themselves seeking their happiness down here, rushing to hoard the spoils, the world offers them without waiting for the fulfillment of the Lord’s design.
The blessed man who has placed his hope in the Lord and has not set his sights on vanity and deceptive folly keeps far from their ways. . . . And in thinking to himself, he consoles himself with these words: ‘My inheritance is the Lord, says my soul; that is why I will wait. The Lord is good to those who hope in him. to the soul that seeks him. It is good to wait in silence for God’s salvation.’