“Trust in God…Believe in Heaven…We were born to strive
and endure.” (From Jane Eyre, Chapter 27)
Jane Eyre is one of the greatest novels in English literature. It is, as Blackburn suggests, essentially a religious novel. It is a novel about long-suffering, painful perseverance and the graces won through the acceptance and endurance of trials and suffering. In the end the proud Mr. Rochester marries Jane Eyre, but only after being severely humbled. He tells Jane near the end of the novel that “I began to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom. I began to experience remorse, repentance, the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I began sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were but very sincere” (Chapter 37). Dear God, may we never forget to pray during our tribulations!
Galatians 5:22 lists long-suffering and patience as two of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Father Lovasik defines these two virtues (a fruit is, in essence, a fully ripened supernatural virtue) in the following manner (using the equivalent word longanimity for long-suffering):
a. the virtue of patience: “lovingly and fully accepting
the trials that Divine Goodness sees fit to let a person undergo”; and,
b. the virtue of longanimity: “knowing how to wait,
feeling certain during trials, that God’s moment will come when He will
fully aid the suffering person.”
Dear friend, it is through many trials and tribulations that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Acts 14:22). We need to beseech the Holy Spirit for the fruits of long-suffering and patience, and over and over again. One of the great principles of the spiritual life is simply to ask God for the virtues we need. God converted Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, and thereafter this great evangelist and apostle endured unbelievable hardships:
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (2 Cor. 11:24-27)
Saint Peter tried to prevent Jesus from going to Calvary (Matt 16:22), but ultimately learned to embrace suffering and ended up dying on a cross himself (John 21: 18). Saint Paul reminds us that we are children of God “provided that we share [Jesus’] sufferings, so as to share his glory” (Romans 8:17).
Let’s face it: there is an immense power of sanctification associated with suffering. And God is in the sanctification business. God will see us through to the end. He his near: “nearer to us than we are to ourselves.” Deep trust, deep prayer, and powerful perseverance is what is needed. And then, like Jane Eyre, when her dreams of happiness were being torn asunder, we will say, “God must have led me on…I was weeping wildly as I walked along my solitary way…a weakness seized me and I fell: I lay on the ground some minutes, pressing my face to the wet turf. I had some fear – or hope – that here I should die: but I was soon up: crawling forward on my hands and knees, and then again raised to my feet – as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road” (Chapter 27).
Persevere, my friend, during these difficult times which may become increasingly more difficult, for the road of redemptive suffering leads to eternal Life.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Ref. There is a song by the Catholic singer, Mark Mallet, with lyrics, “Persevere, my friend, for the reward is eternal life.” In the drawing above from Wikipedia (Public Domain, U.S. A.) the impoverished Jane Eyre encounters help from St. John Rivers. It should be remembered that Miss Eyre left her employment and place of residence in order to avoid a sinful relationship. She chose immense suffering rather than compromising the moral law. Father Lovasik’s definitions are in Favorite Novenas to the Holy Spirit, p.47, (Catholic Book Publishing Co.).
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