What do the Saints Say About Complaining?

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No doubt, that sometimes many of us feel we have much to complain about. As a result of our own concupiscence we often, myself included, fail to see how blessed we are in this life. As a result, the sight of God’s plan for us, to spend eternity with Him in heaven, is lost. All struggles we may have in this life are for our ultimate good. This becomes clear if we keep our eye on Him in Heaven.

Complaining can seep into our soul and slowly over time darken our ability to keep our eye on the goal, eternal bliss. When this happens the evil one has accomplished his goal.

Common wisdom tells us to “let it all hang out” or “vent, it will make you feel better.” If we have ever been around a person that for any length of time that has the habit of complaining or venting, we know that in the end their complaints only become more bitter over time and hardens their heart against their fellow man and God.

Some straightforward thoughts of the saints can give us simple guidance. Their closeness to Jesus gives them a special vantage point on how to live in a way that will bring us closer to God. Below is a collection of quotes about complaining that I hope you will find thought provoking.

St. Peter: “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:8-10)

St. Paul: “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:13-15)

St. James: “You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.” (James 5:8-9)

St. Therese of Lisieux: “I made it a practice never to complain when my things were taken, and if at any time I were unjustly accused, I preferred to keep silent rather than attempt an excuse. There was, however, no merit in all this for it came to me quite naturally.”

St. John Vianney: “Another bad habit which is very common in homes and among working people is impatience, grumbling, and swearing. Now, my children, where do you get with your impatience and your grumbling? Do your affairs go any better? Do they cause you any less trouble? Is it not, rather, the other way around? You have a lot more trouble with them, and, what is even worse, you lose all the merit which you might have gained for Heaven.”

St. John Vianney: “I tell you that working people, if they want to get to Heaven, should endure patiently the rigor of the seasons and the ill humor of those for whom they work; they should avoid those grumbles and bad language so commonly heard and fulfill their duties conscientiously and faithfully.”

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina: “If the good Lord wishes to prolong the hour of trial, do not complain and look for the reason; but remember always, that the children of Israel had to remain forty years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land.”

St. Francis de Sales: “The truly patient man, neither complains of his hard lot nor desires to be pitied by others. He speaks of his sufferings in a natural, true, and sincere way, without murmuring, complaining, or exaggerating them.”

St. Bernadette Soubirous: “I must die to myself continually and accept trials without complaining. I work, I suffer and I love with no other witness than his heart. Anyone who is not prepared to suffer all for the Beloved and to do his will in all things is not worthy of the sweet name of Friend, for here below, Love without suffering does not exist.”

St. Augustine of Hippo: “To be under pressure is inescapable. Pressure takes place through all the world; war, siege, the worries of state. We all know men who grumble under these pressures and complain. They are cowards. They lack splendor. But there is another sort of man who is under the same pressure but does not complain, for it is the friction which polishes him. It is the pressure which refines and makes him noble”

St. Alphonsus Liguori: “He who suffers in patience, suffers less and saves his soul. He who suffers impatiently, suffers more and loses his soul.”

Avoiding complaints must come out of our love for God and each other if we are to avoid it. A love that is willing to bind itself to the cross of Christ and bear all things for him.

A simple response I was given once more than a decade ago from a missionary was this: in the face of those things that you may find repugnant offer it up for those you are serving and say, “… and it’s going to be great.”

I have personally found this very helpful. Even if I just say it in the heart of my soul.

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,

Jay

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