Waiting with Purpose

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 4, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

(Cathopic/Pobi Menne)

We live in a world that is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of waiting, of things taking perhaps a little bit longer than we would like; it would seem we have begun to view time as something that only exists for the purpose of shortening.

Think of how much of modern innovation is driven by one simple imperative: make it go faster. Not to say that all increases in speed are undesirable, only that when we are surrounded by so much happening so fast, it can be confusing or, at worst, frustrating when something appears to disobey the general acceleration.
In merely one of the many ways the Church stands at odds with modernity is the emphasis it places on waiting. I would be hard-pressed to describe any aspect of the Church as encouraging rapidity over measured, organic increase. One may find no end of spiritual basis for this in Scripture, an example of which is this verse from 2 Peter:
“Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought [you] to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire.” 
- 2 Peter 3:11-12
Upon first reading these verses, you may find the words “waiting for and hastening” to be completely contradictory. How could it be possible to both wait patiently for something while, at the same time, hoping to quicken its arrival? This seeming contradiction hinges on the connotations we attach to the concept of waiting.
There is a great distinction to be made between the act of waiting, and the act (or state) of being merely lazy. It’s a matter of our interior disposition. If, for instance, there’s a goal we’ve set for ourselves; whether that be something as challenging as training for a marathon, or as minor as committing to reading a lengthy novel, and we find ourselves perpetually “waiting” for the outcome to happen to us while never running further down that trail, or setting aside an hour to read each day, then we weren’t truly waiting. We were just being slothful. However, it is possible to wait with active hands.
Lent is the perfect season of the liturgical year to consider what it means to wait “actively”. Not to wait anxiously, but to truly anticipate; or, viewed from another perspective, to “hasten the coming of the day of God.” 
Although Lent is, by definition, a season characterized by waiting, there are certain actions the Church asks that we take during this time, in order that the waiting may be made fruitful. You are, no doubt, familiar with these: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Through these actions, both interior and exterior, we may be said to “hasten” the coming of the Kingdom. This is not to suggest that we have any influence over when the Second Coming occurs, merely that the more good we do, and the more holy we become, the more glimpses of Heaven will be seen by others. 
In matters such as our own growing in virtue, this active waiting is not something in which we should find consternation or disappointment. As many saints would stand in testament to, holiness and virtue are things quite impossible to rush; in fact, when we try and “innovate” our way into living a Godly life, the only possible outcome is that we find ourselves living the precise opposite. Once we have committed to true spiritual growth, we must allow God to accomplish His own work in us, never thinking, even subconsciously, that it is us alone who make ourselves holy.
With all this in mind, I would encourage you to enter into Lent this year free from any reluctance for waiting on either yourself or God. The Church gives us the penitential seasons to teach us this supernatural patience. As Christians, we cannot help but wait. It is up to us how. 
Lent, waiting, waiting with purpose, 2 Peter, Catholic reflection, trending-english