Perseverance to Mars and Heaven During Lent

Perseverance, Mars rover

On February 18, 2021, the rover Perseverance is to land on Mars and collect samples. This achievement is the result of NASA’s perseverance. Perseverance, or persistence, is a virtue. Its partner patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Perseverance takes courage, a gift of the Holy Spirit.

How is your New Year’s resolution going? You have a chance to renew it or make a new one this Lent. May you patiently persevere in keeping your resolution(s) as you journey, not through space but through the time allotted you on Earth. Remember: “A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

There are numerous wonderful, inspiring stories about people who have accomplished great things because they have persevered.

• Supposedly Thomas Edison said of his search for the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

• Four times Diana Nyad tried to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Florida and failed. In 2013 at the age of 64, she again attempted the feat and was successful. Similarly, in 1952 Florence Chadwick strove to swim between Catalina Island and California through fog and in shark infested water. After sixteen hours, she quit, not seeing that the shore was only 1/2 mile away! (It’s important to keep your eyes on the goal!) Two months later Florence tried again and succeeded.

• Many people who suffer a stroke or have had an accident must persevere through weeks of rehab in order to get well. Surely at times they are tempted to say, “I quit.”

• I might spend hours trying to add headers and page numbers to a manuscript. (Changing one tends to ruin others.) But the satisfaction when everything is correctly in place is worth the struggle. You might experience this same feeling after you master a new feature on your computer or cell phone.

Our faith offers examples of people who persevered. First and foremost, there is Jesus. Today’s Gospel tells how vexed he was when the apostles did not understand him. Frustrated, he aims a barrage of questions at them, no less than seven. (See Mark 8:14–21) Of course, then there is Jesus’s agony in the garden. On the brink of a grueling sacrifice, Jesus could have backed out. But no, he persevered…for our sake.

Too there is the Blessed Virgin Mary. After her yes to God, she was subjected to unbelievable trials. Yet she bravely walked through them all the way to Calvary. She never gave up.

Imprisonments, beatings, whippings, shipwrecks—nothing stopped St. Paul from spreading the Good News. We who live two thousand years later benefit from his perseverance. May we someday say with him, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:8).

We Sisters pray for “the grace of perseverance” in our vocation. This prayer would profit people in any vocation: marriage, ordained, single by helping them stay faithful to their call. The prayer would also apply to persevering in becoming holy‚ resisting temptations and striving for virtues.

Here is a song that motivates us to keep on keeping on:

Being human, you might backslide in keeping your resolutions. But you can always begin again. Like the little girl when she was asked how she learned to ride a bike. She said, “Whenever I fell off, I got back on again.”

So aim to become a diamond—the person God intended you to be. The Holy Spirit can empower you to plow through any adversity, even our ongoing pandemic.

• Who could you add as a model of perseverance? • When have you been glad that you persevered.

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