By Steve Drapalik – Director
You can almost taste it. You know what I’m talking about. Your favorite hot beverage slowly sipped while basking in the warmth of the luminously decorated tree, laughing with family and friends around the living room fireplace, and watching the family pet’s eyes draw heavy as they nuzzle up in your lap. The Christmas festivities are so close…and yet, seem firmly planted upon the peak of a frightening mountain so steep, so covered in snow, so treacherous, that the mere thought of ascending its slope is downright exhausting.
The mountain path winds around boulders of group projects, crosses over gorges of research papers, and traverses a forest of final exams. The path is well tread by generations of students before you, though you can hardly make out their encouraging snow-covered footprints. Whether you are just about to depart from base-camp or have fearlessly begun the ascent – congratulations – you are about to understand why the word “patience” traces its meaning to “painful suffering”. Patience isn’t merely about inconvenience, but rather, is an active endurance against the winds of opposition, a battle and fight for survival.
As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, the virtue of “joy” is extolled. Yet how can one find the strength to rejoice while squarely facing bitter torment? The answer lies in the theological virtue of hope. Hope is a supernatural gift of God which sets our eyes forward beyond the slings and arrow which assail us on every side. The Israelites knew this virtue well. For generations, they rejoiced in hope for the coming of the Messiah. Not even the slew of anguished periods of exile, captivity, and persecution by foreign oppressors could rob them of this hope. Imagine the anxiety experienced by a pregnant, unwed Mary as she walked around town; imagine the frustration of Joseph who was repeatedly refused shelter for his wife about to go into labor; imagine the Three Wiseman enduring the long and tiring pilgrimage to find and pay homage to the newborn king. Trials endured in patience are rewarded with joy.
So as the pressure and stress of finals week seems to take on a new level of ferocity, remember to be patient. Be strong and take heart, the Lord is on your side! Tighten your boots, take a deep breath, redirect your eyes to the summit, and with determination to weather the storm, continue the ascent – your reward awaits.