Reflections While Walking: Persistence

By Deacon Bob Salvestrini

Before the Wright brothers’ first manned flight, Dr. Samuel P. Langley had successfully flown some models of heavier-than-air machines. However, when he attempted to fly his invention with a pilot aboard it failed several times. Discouraged by his failures and from much public criticism, he stored his machine and moved on to other projects.

A few days after Dr. Langley’s last failure to fly the Wright brothers made the historical first successful manned flight. Sometime after the first successful manned flight the famous aviator Glen Curtis retrieved and repaired Dr. Langley’s machine and successfully flew it, attempting to demonstrate that Dr. Langley deserved credit as the inventor of the first manned aircraft. One can only imagine what changes there would have been if Dr. Langley had persisted in his attempt at manned flight.

Persistence is a trait necessary to succeed in any endeavor and is especially true for lengthy undertakings. Spiritual growth is a lifelong endeavor and requires persistence throughout our lives. Too often discouragement can arise when our prayers aren’t answered as we would like. We pray for healing, a change in behavior, or many other things, and don’t see the result, we anticipate we become discouraged. We confess the same sins repeatedly, hoping for change; when change doesn’t occur, we become discouraged. Distractions creep in while at prayer or at mass and we are frustrated.

Discouragement and frustration are enemies of persistence. They lead us to focus on failure instead of success. For most growth spiritually occurs in small increments over time. There are very few ah-ha moments involving spiritual growth. We can discover those small increments and see how much our spiritual life has grown by looking back. Look back one year, or five years, or ten years or more and honestly compare your spiritual practices then versus now. The steps may be small but be assured they will be there, and you can take comfort that you overcame past frustrations, and discouragements because you were persistent.