Dear Friends in Christ,
“The Good of Patience.” This is the title of the second chapter of Alan Kreider’s book, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church. I commend both the book and the value of living out the good of patience. Throughout, Kreider shows how this one virtue is continually being woven into the very fabric of who we are as Christians. He draws on the example of many in our shared history, like St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, North Africa (248-258). Cyprian was leader at a particularly dangerous and difficult time. There were divisions within the Church and there were waves of hostility coming from without. And at this point in the third century, all had been deeply affected by a pandemic that devastated communities large and small. At the height of the pandemic, it is said, as many as 5,000 people died every day in the city of Rome.
During this season of uncertainty, disruption, worry, and anxiety, Cyprian chose to write a treatise on patience. He wrote, “Beloved, we are philosophers not in words but in deeds; we exhibit our wisdom not in dress, but by truth; we know virtues by their practice rather than through boasting of them; we do not speak great things, but we live them… Therefore, as servants and worshippers of God, let us show by spiritual homage the patience that we learn from the heavenly teachings. For that virtue we have in common with God.”
Cyprian was calling the Christian community to embody the quality of Patientia to demonstrate the very character of God. Become like God, he would say. As a community of faith lives out the virtue of patience, God becomes known and shown through it. Wiser words could not be spoken now.
If there was a time for us to embody the Christian virtue of patience, it is now, especially as we deal with a fourth wave of pandemic. Our recently published vaccination policy that is to be adopted in parishes across the Diocese, makes it possible for us to comply with provincial health guidelines and ensures safety and well-being. We also recognize that for us to comply, a great responsibility is shouldered by clergy, volunteers, and leaders.
Please, everyone, let’s be patient with one another and kind, too. Please do all that you can to be helpful. Be supportive of your wardens as they do their level best to make note of vaccination receipts. Be supportive of your clergy as they stay open and attentive to the myriad of pastoral needs that are emerging. Please show patience with our staff at 135 Adelaide Street who are doing their very best to keep up with your questions and changing circumstance. We appreciate your striving to accommodate tight timelines and guidelines. We know that this time is not easy. By being attentive and living out the deeds of our faith, we demonstrate the very character of our God.
The scourge of COVID-19 persists. We invite you to continue to pray for frontline workers, the sick and the dying, especially in those places where infections are rampant. We pray especially for our siblings in the province of Alberta. May God continue to bless us on our way.
Yours in Christ
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto