September 27, 2013

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Patience is a virtue at the heart of family life

Sean GallagherAn important part of family life is learning to wait patiently. Parents are to teach their children by word and example to be patient in waiting for what they need, and especially for what they want.

This learning, however, doesn’t end in childhood or in one’s teenage years. Parents may have built up the habit of patience before their children were born. But at least in my own experience, the degree of patience needed in raising children well required me to virtually relearn this virtue. And believe me, I’m still studying.

Our Catholic faith can help us in this important process. Waiting is a key element in stories throughout the Bible. The Old Testament could be said to be one long story of the people of Israel waiting for the Lord to fulfill his promises while he never wavered in patiently waiting for his people to repent of their sins and return to him.

Many passages in the New Testament exhort the first Christians—and us as well—to wait attentively for Jesus’ glorious second coming.

This kind of waiting, though, isn’t like waiting for a bus or just sitting around waiting for something to happen. On many occasions, Jesus taught his disciples to be active in building up his kingdom while waiting for his return.

He wanted them to be like this because their waiting, no matter how long it lasts, will come to an end quickly, “in the twinkling of an eye,” as St. Paul described it (1 Cor 15:52).

My family and I recently experienced this kind of active waiting ending in a flash when my wife, Cindy, gave birth on Sept. 9 to the newest addition to our family: Colin Peter Gallagher. He joins his four older brothers: Michael, 11, Raphael, 8, Victor, 6, and Philip, 4.

In the weeks leading up to Colin’s birth, Cindy organized various tasks to help us get ready for his arrival. Clothes and diapers were prepared. Colin’s older brothers moved to different bedrooms to make room for him. Arrangements were made for our boys’ care during his delivery and in the days immediately following.

We just weren’t waiting around for Colin to be born. We were trying with the help of God’s grace to be like the good stewards that Jesus described in a parable who were busy doing their duty when their master returned (see Mt 24:45-51 and Lk 12:41-48).

Our nine months of waiting and preparing came to a quick end on Sept. 9. Cindy’s aches and pains had gradually grown for weeks. But at 3 o’clock that afternoon, she called me at my office and said that she needed to get to the hospital soon.

I came home and we put the various plans we had made in the previous weeks and months into action.

Our drive to St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis was hair-raising for both of us, but much more for Cindy than for me. And we arrived at the hospital just in time. Colin was born less than 15 minutes later at 4:38 p.m.

Cindy and Colin are doing well at home. All of Colin’s brothers are back, too. They like to hold him, and are getting used to having another brother.

We’re all learning to be patient with Colin and will slowly, over time, try to help him to be patient, too. †

Local site Links: