Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

faith, Gratitude, peace, St Benedict, Virtues

Hold Fast to Patience with A Silent Mind

Hold fast to patience with a silent mind
Woman on a deck over an alpine lake – Young woman standing on a wooden bridge over the Hallstatter lake enjoying the silence and the view of the Austrian Alps mountains reflected in the water.

“Hold fast to patience with a silent mind.”

These words from St. Benedict’s fourth chapter on humility seem to burn through the muddled and distorted thoughts of a mind overwhelmed by the horrors of today’s politics, more accurately described by TV character Garrett Moore of Blue Blood’s wry comment to New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, than of statecraft:

“The circus came to town and they never left.”

But it is the contemporary climate of major universities that sears my heart and psyche even more deeply as I write on this cold morning…an apt metaphor for the wisdom eclipsed by a perverse racism. David Warren writes:

“Civilizations have come and gone.” The winter is upon this one now; our own death is constantly before us. What we glibly call “Western Civ,” once so powerful, is now under vicious, barbaric attack not only at frontiers but from within the very institutions it created. Those with the solemn moral responsibility to uphold them are instead wetting their pants.

The Catholic Thing

The grief and sense of loss I feel is deep. With ease I can recall the lure of those ancient Greek philosophers to my twenty-year-old mind, filled with the distractions and lies of another age. Although much of what I studied of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle was far too dense for total comprehension, the consolation of knowing that there were others who had loved wisdom was enough. Like many young people of every age, I had walked away from everything; it was these very studies that provided a grasp, albeit a tenuous one, on reality.

In “Wisdom From One of the Dead White Guys,” it was no exaggeration when I wrote…”while working my way through my undergraduate degree in pursuit of wisdom and truth, it was just those dead white guys who, in a very real sense, saved my life.

Reading Warren’s article brings back vivid memories of my lost years. Of course, I think about today’s young people who are asking the same questions that I did?

Where do they find wisdom?

It’s been four years since I wrote the above words

and now have an answer to that question I asked, “Where do they [college students now denied the ancient philosophers] find wisdom?”

The answer? The same source I did: God’s Grace.

It wasn’t the Greek philosophers who saved my life back during those dangerous years of unbelief.


It was that yearning, sometimes yawning hunger, for truth.

He writes His Law into our hearts as conscience. But then we grow up and out of what we know and learn to rationalize our desires. And discover the most powerful force in the world: the human will. if we live in a culture and society that promotes the “rights” of our whimsical wills, we forget sin.

Professor J. Budziszewski lucidly explains the process in his piece, Revenge of Conscience:

As any sin passes through its stages from temptation, to toleration, to approval, its name is first euphemized, then avoided, then forgotten. A colleague tells me that some of his fellow legal scholars call child molestation “intergenerational intimacy”: that’s euphemism. A good-hearted editor tried to talk me out of using the term “sodomy”: that’s avoidance. My students don’t know the word “fornication” at all: that’s forgetfulness.

The pattern is repeated in the house of death. First we were to approve of killing unborn babies, then babies in process of birth; next came newborns with physical defects, now newborns in perfect health. Nobel-prize laureate James Watson proposes that parents of newborns be granted a grace period during which they may have their babies killed, and in 1994 a committee of the American Medical Association proposed harvesting organs from some sick babies even before they die. First we were to approve of suicide, then to approve of assisting it. Now we are to approve of a requirement to assist it, for, as Ernest van den Haag has argued, it is “unwarranted” for doctors not to kill patients who seek death. First we were to approve of killing the sick and unconscious, then of killing the conscious and consenting. 

And yet, atheists like this University of Texas philosopher—and me—get flooded with grace and mercy. And we listen…then shout, “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”

When feeling overwhelmed by what we see and hear, what can we do?

Hold fast to patience with a silent mind. St. Benedict’s twelve chapter treatment of humility warrants all the time we can commit to ponder, pray, and use as lectio divina. The words of the fifth century saint’s Rule are a balm to our turbulent souls…reminding us that we are not God.

And that God knows what He is about.

The fourth degree of humility
is that he hold fast to patience with a silent mind
when in this obedience he meets with difficulties
and contradictions
and even any kind of injustice,
enduring all without growing weary or running away.

Moreover, by their patience
those faithful ones fulfill the Lord’s command
in adversities and injuries:
when struck on one cheek, they offer the other;
when deprived of their tunic, they surrender also their cloak;
when forced to go a mile, they go two;
with the Apostle Paul they bear with false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26)
and bless those who curse them (1 Cor. 4:12).

Is it mere coincidence that we’ve been given these four-legged companions to accompany us on this roller-coaster life? Of all creatures, dogs are the only ones who choose us over all other creatures. Are there more patient, trusting and silent partners than these?

Hold fast to patience with a silent mind

Speaking of a silent mind:

This past Tuesday, October 2nd, was the Feast of St. Francis. Since I was unable to find where the Franciscan blessings of the animals was taking place, Monsignor Flood kindly bestowed a blessing on Seymour.

The reading for that day is one well-known to us. Especially women, because written in our DNA is…”WHY ISN”T SHE HELPING ME?”

In the past, I’ve wholly sympathized and defended Martha. But now I see this passage differently.

Very differently.

This time, Jesus’s words to an “overburdened” Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things, there is need of only one thing, Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her,” Full reading here, isn’t admonishment, but love.

There’s a whole world here in this deceptively simple scene: Eden revisited.

Making and then serving meals have a sacred foundation. The Michelin four-star chefs speak about the most critical ingredient of exceptional meals is love. They mean by that, an immersion into the process so complete that the self disappears. A love that dissolves with impatience and anxiety.

Of course, we can’t know why love collapsed for Martha. Maybe it was jealousy at her sister Mary’s absorption by Love Himself, fatigue, or both. But Our Lord recognizes the appearance of the wily serpent, “Martha, Martha, you’ve lost sight of what you are doing and why.”

O bread of angels, celestial manna, precious Evangel, sacrament of the present moment, you bring God to the mean surroundings of a lowly stable in a manger among straw and hay. But to whom do you gove yourself? God reveals himself to the hungry in small things—’He has filled the hungry with good things’ (Luke 1:53)—but the proud, who only attach importance to outward appearances, cannot see him even in big ones.

But what is the secret of how to find this treasure—this minute grain of mustard seed? There is none. It is avaliable to us always, everywhere. Like God, every creature, whether friend or foe, pours it out generously, making it flow throughout our bodies and souls to the very center of our being. Divine action cleanses the universe, pervading and flowing over all creatures. Wherever they are it pursues them.

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Post Tags :
abortion, euthanasia, patience, rule of benedict, seymour, sin

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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