Patience is a Virtue


by Bryce Lungren

March 12, 2012, completed this year's Monday evening conferences on development of virtues.  Fr. Rory Pitstick, a MAS formation director and professor from the Diocese of Spokane, spoke to seminarians about the discipline of patience.  His long-awaited talk, which took place in St. Joseph's Chapel and lasted about 45 minutes, discussed why patience is a virtue and how it can be practically applied in daily life.

To begin his talk, Fr. Pitstick gave different definitions of patience, which ranged from long suffering to forbearance.  Collegian Emmanuel Sanchez from the Diocese of Orange liked Fr. Pitstick's explanations of patience.  In an email interview, Sanchez said, "they all seemed to have a similar message of bearing pain, misfortune, and irritation without complaint."

Fr. Pitstick also spoke of the patience of God.  Citing examples from the Old Testament as well as the New, he described patience as being an attribute of God.  For this reason, Fr. Pitstick said that patience is part of God's holiness "and so should be part of our holiness."

One insight that John Kucera, a pre-theologian from the Diocese of Boise, gained from the virtuous talk was that patience is a lot like humility.  "Every time you think you have it," Kucera said through an email, "you are probably closer to its vice than its virtue."  Kucera went on to say that complaining and anxiety are two vices that come from being impatient.

Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Fr. Pitstick stated that patience parallels the overarching virtue of fortitude.  Fr. Pitstick when on to say that "the opposite of patience is sadness."  This is a kind of sadness that comes from a person's self-pride and leads them to believe that their suffering is undeserved.

Fr. Pitstick gave three practical applications to the virtue of patience.  His first advice was to be patient with others so as to not let their wrongs make us less of a person.  Regarding this, John Kucera commented that if "we are not patient with each other, we are going to be constantly irritated and angry."

Secondly, Fr. Pitstick said we need to be patient with God and make God's ways our standard of living.    Concerning this, Fr. Pitstick went on to state that we need to adapt our ways to God's ways, not His ways to our ways.

Emmanuel Sanchez said that by applying these three avenues of patience to his life, he feels he can better understand and minister to others, himself, and God.

Responding to questions about his talk through an email, Fr. Pitstick reflected that the preparation for this conference allowed him for the first time in his life to take a systematic look at the virtue of patience and how it relates to other virtues.

Fr. Pitstick believes that this year's Monday evening conferences given on virtues are beneficial to the character formation of future priests.  Reflecting on his own priestly formation, Fr. Pitstick said that "the virtues I was encouraged and challenged to work on as a seminarian have borne fruit in my priestly ministry."