Friday, July 28, 2006


The quotes below are a select few on the subject of perseverance, written by Saint JosemarĂ­a Escrivá in his book The Way. You can pick up a copy or read it online here.

Webster's defines persevere as to "persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement." Synonyms include: carry on, persist, hang on, follow through, and knuckle down (my favorite). The opposite of persevere is to give up, quit, surrender, yield, falter, hesitate, vacillate, or waver. It is from the Latin perseverare, from per- through + severus severe. Not ducking the severe; not stopping short of severe; but going forward through severe. To get into severe, look up the definition.

Interesting word, don't you think? And one that is a part of our lives whether we realize it or not. All of us are persevering in some way. But all too often, most of us are doing the opposite. We're giving in. Whether it be to our circumstances that we think we cannot overcome, or the "world"...whatever it may be for us. We yield, we surrender, we quit. Even hesitating is considered the opposite of perseverance, for in that moment we are not carrying on, but are in a sort of "vacuum" where we haven't made up our minds yet whether to move forward or fall back. There is no neutrality when it comes to persevering. You're either advancing or retreating.

Consider for a moment James 1:2-8:

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

So welcome your trials as that is how you will learn to persevere. But seek wisdom. Seek it in prayer, in Holy Scripture, and seek it in the writings of the saints. This is the second time in a week I've had the concept of seeking wisdom driven home to me. The other time was in a book I'm currently reading by Andy Andrews called The Traveler's Gift. The book is much like something Og Mandino may have written in that the main character of the story meets seven historical figures at a time of crisis in his life. Each character tells him of a decision he must make each day in order to succeed in life. The second decision is provided by King Solomon: Seek Wisdom. The seventh decision is provided by the Archangel Gabriel: Persist Without Exception.

When we waver, or when we hesitate, we are of two minds. We are unstable. We lose our focus and our ability to persevere. It is something we can ill afford to relinquish. To do otherwise is to be "tossed about by the wind."

Don't tell Jesus that you want consolation in prayer. If he gives it to you, thank him. Tell him always that you want perseverance.

Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful.

'He spent the whole night in prayer to God.' So Saint Luke tells of our Lord.

And you? How often have you persevered like that? Well, then...

Discouragement is an enemy of your perseverance. If you don't fight against discouragement you will become pessimistic first, and lukewarm afterwards. Be an optimist.

You cannot 'rise'. It's not surprising: that fall!

Persevere and you will 'rise'. Remember what a spiritual writer has said: your poor soul is like a bird whose wings are caked with mud.

Suns of heaven are needed and personal efforts, small and constant, to shake off those inclinations, those vain fancies, that depression: that mud clinging to your wings.

And you will see yourself free. If you persevere, you will 'rise'.

Unshakable: that is what you must be. If your perseverance is disturbed by other people's weaknesses or by your own, I cannot but form a poor opinion of your ideal.

Make up your mind once and for all.

Oh blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the water-wheel! Always the same pace. Always the same circles. One day after another: everyday the same.

Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden.

Carry this thought to your interior life.


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