Patience is a moral virtue that disposes and inclines a man to suffer and endure present evils without unreasonable dejection. Patience is a perfection of the concupiscible appetite that disposes it to submit to the control of reason so that the difficulties of life will not overwhelm a man with sadness. The primary action that flows from this virtue is to endure; thus patience is annexed to the virtue of fortitude as a potential part. Since the acquisition of any virtue requires the endurance of some sorrow, generally on the sense level, patience is said to prepare the way for the acquisition of all of the other virtues.
Patience does not require the endurance of all present evils. Some can reasonably be avoided or mitigated, and to fail to take action to this end could be culpable. A mother, for example, with a family of small children to control cannot endure unlimited chaos and disorder with apathetic serenity; not infrequently she will be obliged to feel and express some measure of indignation and irritation.
Patience, motivated by man's willingness to endure unpleasant things in order to attain natural virtue and natural goods, is an acquired virtue. Beyond this there is infused into man's soul with sanctifying grace a supernatural virtue of patience that is motivated by a supernatural willingness to endure trouble and affliction in order to attain sanctity and union with God. This supernatural patience can be a joyous thing—suffering for love of God is a source of joy.
True patience possesses three special characteristics: it must be universal, humble, and supernatural. Patience endures every type of evil that should be borne, no matter what may be its kind, cause, or consequences. Patience is humble when it does not complain unduly or seek attention, sympathy, or compassion. Patience is supernatural when it is motivated by charity. St. Paul said: "Charity is patient" (1 Cor 13.4).
Two vices are opposed to the virtue of patience: insensibility and impatience. Insensibility is a lack of feeling that leaves a person stoical and unmoved by his own suffering or by that of others. Impatience is an unreasonable refusal to endure sorrow from present troubles necessary for the accomplishment of works of virtue. Impatience manifests itself externally by unreasonable anger, complaints, and evidences of depression or discouragement; internally, it shows itself in feelings of antipathy to trials and suffering, and in an excessive inclination to protect oneself against all discomfort. The vice of impatience leads a man to the feeling that there is no joy in loving and serving God; it inclines man to avoid the difficulties and the sorrows that often are the prelude to great joy and happiness.
Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa theologiae, 2a2ae, 136. e. vansteenberghe, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 12.1:2247–51. augustine, Patientia. tertullian, "Patience," Disciplinary, Moral, and Ascetical Works, tr. r. arbesmann et al. (New York 1959). a. royo, The Theology of Christian Perfection, tr. and ed. j. aumann (Dubuque 1962). Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek 1758–60. francis de sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, tr. m. day (Westminster, Md. 1959).
490. Patience (See also Longsuffering.)
- Amelia idealized personification of patience and perseverance. [Br. Lit.: Amelia ]
- dock bloom symbolizes patience. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 454]
- Enid constant and patient wife of Sir Geraint. [Welsh Lit.: Mabinogion ; Br. Lit.: “Idylls of the King”]
- Griselda lady immortalized for patience and wifely obedience. [Br. Lit.: Canterbury Tales, “Clerk of Oxenford’s Tale”]
- Hermione bore Leontes’ unfounded jealousy, thus gaining his love. [Br. Lit.: The Winter’s Tale ]
- Jacob serves Laban for fourteen years before receiving permission to marry Rachel. [O.T.: Gen. 24:34]
- Job underwent trial by God at Satan’s suggestion. [O.T.: Job]
- Penelope Odysseus’ wife; model of feminine virtue, waits twenty years for husband’s return. [Gk. Lit.: Odyssey ]
pa·tience / ˈpāshəns/ • n. 1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset: you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross. 2. chiefly British term for solitaire (sense 1). PHRASES: lose patience (or lose one's patience) become unable to keep one's temper: even Lawrence finally lost patience with him.