Written by Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Lenten Spring is a book of spiritual readings for the season of Great Lent.
The Lenten season is the time for bearing fruits worthy of repentance, the fruits of the Spirit. In a sense, this is what Lent, like life itself, is all about. To produce these holy fruits is not an easy task. It does not just happen. It is neither magical nor mechanical. It is a long, hard labor. It requires much work. And most of all, it takes patience. Jesus made this point in His explanation of His parable of the sower when He said that the good earth that receives the seed of God’s Word and brings forth much fruit does so only with patience: “And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk. 8:15).
In the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim there is a special petition for patience. It is a necessity for the person who expects to produce spiritual fruits. A garden grows by being tended. God gives the growth, yet His workers must plow and water and fertilize and cultivate. This must be done slowly, painfully, with tireless effort and endless patience. Otherwise, nothing useful will grow. “In your patience,” says the Lord Jesus, “possess ye your souls.” Or, in a more modern translation, “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Lk. 21:19).
The word “patience” means “to endure.” It means to bear and put up with people and things. It means to carry the burdens of others, and of “the heat of the day.” It means to watch and to wait, not to hurry and to rush. It means literally to suffer with and to suffer through, in quiet expectation of the hoped-for result. For only those, says Jesus, who endure to the end will be saved (Mt. 24:13).