The patience to know God's will in "our restless and crazy time"

The New York Times printed a letter last November from C.G. Jung, the renowned psychologist. In this letter, originally written in 1959, Jung spoke of the loss of meaning in people's lives, which he had come to feel inevitably accompanies a loss of "religious outlook," or faith. Jung believed that regaining a religious view of life was essential to the individual's health and wholeness, and he also recognized the serious challenge to doing this in contemporary society. He concluded his letter: "The problem itself cannot be settled by a few slogans. It demands concentrated attention, much mental work and, above all, patience, the rarest thing in our restless and crazy time."

Patience does seem a rare commodity these days. The great tendency is to want what we need, or what we think we need, and to feel unduly pressured to accomplish what we're expected to accomplish, right now, this instant, immediately. Yet we may not have taken the opportunity (or even felt we had the time) to consider thoughtfully the real significance of something, or what it may require of us and of others, or what it could mean to our future. And for many, if not most people, to pray about daily affairs and responsibilities just doesn't seem to fit on the desk calendar or in the weekly appointment book. Living "on the edge"—keeping all the demands and responsibilities of any given day in some semblance of order, rushing from one appointment to the next, or simply trying to keep our head above water as the world speeds by—doesn't seem to nourish much patience or prayer.

One of the notable meanings of patience is, however, according to one dictionary, "having the power to continue a course or task undisturbed by obstacles, disappointments, delays, or the like." Patience involves being "constant and undaunted in application or effort." And those who make prayer a regular part of their day often attest to the peace and dominion they gain. Prayer becomes the single most important factor in providing direction to their lives, in establishing constancy, and in building real meaning into what they do and accomplish. And the life that puts prayer at its center discovers the great virtues of patience. People who spend time in communion with God find that their prayer actually nurtures patience.

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The story we love to tell
June 27, 1994

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