“Patience cannot be proved in any way other than suffering, and patience is united with love.”
-From “Little Talks With God” by St. Catherine of Siena
In essence, love cannot be proved without patience or suffering. In today’s world it’s easy to misunderstand the meaning of love. Any TV show or movie will show you that love is all roses and butterflies once both people admit they are actually in love and then comes the happily ever after. What we often forget (aside from the fact that both TV shows and movies are made for the wow factor) is that they never show the “ever after” part so we don’t give it a second thought. We leave the movie theater with an imperfect image of what true love means because we’re deceived into believing that once the couple comes together and professes their undying love for one another that everything in their relationship moving forward is picture perfect and easy breezy.
The quote from God to St. Catherine of Siena teaches us the reality of love. “Patience cannot be proved in any way other than suffering, and patience is united with love.” First off, patience is united with love – they are inseparable. Furthermore, patience cannot be proved in any way other than suffering… It does not say it may not, but rather it CANNOT. Love requires suffering. This is because love is actually TOTAL self-donation.
Do you wish to love? If your answer is yes, then you MUST give of yourself. This takes compromise, sacrifice, patience, and yes, suffering. To love, you would suffer for the good of another. To love is to forget yourself and put the other person first. Of course, a healthy love calls for both parties to have this as their optimum goal. Self-giving love is true love.
If every couple coming to the Altar on their wedding day arrived with the mindset and preparation of heart and soul to give entirely of himself and herself to their spouse-to-be, I am willing to bet the divorce rate would drop tremendously. But that is what we promise at the Altar of the Lord and this kind of love requires patience – patience with self and patience with the other.
If you are already married, make an effort to continuously work toward this realization of a healthy total self-donation. Of course this must be considered in the context of a relationship that is rightly ordered. If there are other factors involved such as abuse or mistreatment, seek counsel and advice and love the person from a distance as you are given professional guidance.
If you are not yet married, but are engaged, prayerfully approach your marriage in light of this revelation. Are you going to the Altar on account of your own free will? Are you willing to give entirely of yourself for as long as you both live? These are big commitments, commitments that will require a special grace, which is poured out on the couple by the Sacrament of Marriage through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This might seem scary to some, but when you really reflect and pray on this, the magnificence of love is revealed. No, love is not all roses and butterflies, but there is a rich sweetness in the kind of love that allows you to suffer for another being.
Take a look at your life. The people who you are willing to suffer for, those are the people where your greatest love lies. If you are not willing to suffer for the people you claim to love, you likely need to dig deeper and work on perfecting your love for them. It will require patience. It will require suffering. But the fruits will be of the greatest reward. Only then will you have found the sweetness of love.
Laughs and Love,