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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Allocutio - 18 Sept

Patience and Perseverance
Written by Ferdinand Peter

In Galatians 5:22-24, we are told by St Paul that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. As Christians, we know very well how God loves us so much he sent his son to earth to die for us. We are taught by Jesus’ example to love one another and in order for us to be able to love one another; we have to develop the spirit of patience. For with love, comes great patience.

In chapter 3 of the Legion handbook, it is mentioned that the spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself. It is inspiring to know that we are called to follow her footsteps; to learn from her humility and obedience, to mirror her angelical sweetness, to grow a self-sacrificing courageous love of God, and to have a heroic patience. Here, I would like to emphasize on the spirit of patience which Mother Mary has.

Indeed it is hard to find an example of Mary’s patience through the Bible as she was a humble person and not many things about her has had been recorded in the Bible. However, most of the recorded events with Mary in it actually show us how patient she was (Beginning of the Gospel of Matthew). One example was right after she was conceived by the Holy Spirit, when she had to explain to Joseph about how she became pregnant. Being an upright person, Joseph wanted to divorce her informally until an angel came to him and told him that indeed she was bearing Jesus who was the Son of God and he was to take her home as his wife. Imagine how patient Mary must have been to bear the burden as a mother without a husband after Joseph left her to go back to his house. How about when Mary was trying to convince Joseph that it was the work of the Holy Spirit and she is fulfilling the will of God? Do you think Mary just told Joseph that she was pregnant and did not explain to him what had actually happened? So, how patient did you think Mary was at that time?

From here, I would like to shift back the topic to our work as legionary and how patient has to come in. Indeed many times when we encounter difficulties, we will feel discouraged. Be it when people do not show up for events which we organized such as Patrician Meetings due to circumstances or fear or even not having the desire to attend such an event. (Having studies as our main priority and forgetting God in many aspects of our lives). However, it is okay to feel sad at those times, but do not be discouraged. Even our founder Frank Duff says that we will always have heavy crosses to carry and thus, we should not avoid any form of sufferings that are present. It is very important for us ourselves to have a strong spiritual life to back these things up, so that we can persevere with a patient and loving heart.

"Are not Jesus and Mary the new Adam and Eve, whom the tree of the Cross brought together in anguish and love for the repairing of the fault committed in Eden by our first parents? Jesus is the source and Mary the channel of the graces which give us spiritual rebirth and aid us to win back our heavenly home."

From these sentences, we know the importance of Mary’s intercessions who is the Mediatrix of all graces in our daily work in “winning back our heavenly home”. A home is empty without a family and thus we are all asked to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are straying away from our earthly home, ‘the Church’. And so again I repeat prayer is important and should be the backbone in everything we do. And in order to start or even continue praying, discipline and perseverance comes in, and thus, patience is needed.

‘ 7 Now be patient, brothers, until the Lord's coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! 8 You too must be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon. 9 Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgment yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. 10 For your example, brothers, in patiently putting up with persecution, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name; 11 remember it is those who had perseverance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and understood the Lord's purpose, realizing that the Lord is kind and compassionate. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth or use any oaths at all. If you mean 'yes', you must say 'yes'; if you mean 'no', say 'no'. Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgment. 13 Any one of you who is in trouble should pray; anyone in good spirits should sing a psalm. 14 Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. 16 So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully. 17 Elijah was a human being as frail as ourselves -- he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell for three and a half years; 18 then he prayed again and the sky gave rain and the earth gave crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, 20 he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from his erring ways will be saving his soul from death and covering over many a sin.’-(James 5:7-20)

Here we learn how we should be patient, how we should pray. Since we know how important it is to trust God and to have faith in him, does that mean we should not initiate certain things and let destiny carries us through our life? Are we called to just pray when we know we can do something about certain things? “If I have to do work, God will provide me with the work so I shall not search for any work to do.” Is that how a legionary should be thinking? No! Indeed we should not have that kind of mentality.

‘Now and then, fault has had to be found with branches or members who did not appear to be making sufficient effort in connection with the ordinary Legion work or with extension or recruiting. Sometimes this kind of answer is forthcoming: "I distrust my own powers. I rely altogether on Our Blessed Lady to bring about the right result in her own way." Often this reply proceeds from earnest persons who are inclined to ascribe to their own inactivity a sort of virtue, as if method and effort implied a littleness of faith. There may be, too, a certain danger of applying human ideas to these things and of reasoning that if one is the instrument of a simply immense power, the exact degree of one's own effort does not so greatly matter. Why, it may be argued, should a poor man who is in partnership with a millionaire, exhaust himself to contribute an extra penny to the already overflowing common purse?’-Legio Mariae

It is mentioned here that method and effort does not equate to having a little faith. Having faith in Jesus, does not mean we do not put in any effort or method. We still need to persevere and that is why patience is necessary. It is due to the trust that we have in the Lord, that we are able to achieve many great things.

In relation to the question in the handbook concerning the argument of the partnership between the poor and the rich, we can find the answer in the Bible (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus himself pointed out that a poor widow who gave a penny was giving more than a rich man who was putting in a huge sum of money. The poor widow was giving less than the rich man but it was more valuable as compared to the rich man who had abundance of wealth. And putting into our daily context, we as students have very little time to spend with others and it is time that is deemed valuable to us. As students, we are always fighting against time but do not be afraid of sparing a bit of your time for your neighbors. Be warned that this does not mean neglecting your studies. “For a poor can only give what he has and not more than that.” We have to strive to give and be patient in continually giving regardless of how small our gifts are. For in the eyes of God, our small gifts are magnified in effects.

Next, we should not seek for direct results whenever we do our contact work as only God knows when is the proper time for Him to touch the heart of our contacts.

‘God is easy to discover in at least a confused and primitive sort of way through every striving and aspiration of our will and our heart. For the great difference between an animal and a human is that an animal have its desires satisfied but a human cannot. All that an animal wants is to have its immediate needs granted; this is never the case with man.’-Fulton J. Sheen

Furthermore, we always pray for a sign from God, and when we don’t get any signs through lectio divina or Mass, we use our human reasoning. Do not apply human ideas as Frank Duff has pointed out but all we have to do is persevere in faith and in prayers. Perhaps we were not aware of the signs or forgetting to listen to our brothers and sisters who are brought by God to teach us certain things. Sometimes we know that we will not be able to obtain certain things, like running for Presidency in a club. We should not refuse a nomination immediately as people has put some faith and trust in us. Therefore, if you think you can spare the time and commitment, do try go for it although you are not ‘famous’ and might lose in votes. Or after running for it and failed to obtain the post, do not feel discouraged and says that it is God’s will that this happened and I should not run for it in the first place. For we do not know what is God’s will unless we constantly discern and take initiatives in wanting to know what God has planned for us instead of just running away from doing the work which you are supposed to do. Pray to God that everything you do will be of his will and for his glory; go ahead to do what you think or feel is right. God has given everything that we have now and we should use fully everything that we own. Be it our hands to assure others, our ears to listen to our loved ones, and our hearts to simply love our brothers and sisters. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you so much for being so patient in listening to my allocutio. Before I end off, I want all of you to reflect back whether you have given your best whenever you do your contact work. If you have given up on certain people in bringing them back to the faith, do you just forget about them or do you pray for them? Whenever you encounter difficulties, do you complain about it or share with others in the hope of finding a solution? How about your own spiritual journey? Have you been patient in growing your own relationship with God through prayers?

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