May 22 – Memorial for St. Rita of Cascia, Religious
Rita (1386-1457) was the daughter of Antonio and Amata Lotti, a couple known as the Peacemakers of Jesus; they had Rita late in life. From her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was 12, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive individual who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Disappointed but obedient, Rita married him when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s abuses for 18 years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.
Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. Asking for the intervention of St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalen at age 36.
Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.
She was confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end, she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything. Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.
Among the other areas, Rita is well known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.
- Patron Saint Index
Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.
But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you
Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of what a ‘home’ really is. I have been in Singapore for almost two decades but I still wish I could go back to the Philippines as my family is there. However, there are some differences between me and my family that makes it difficult for me to consider going back ‘home’. It makes me feel like my home was not there.
So I asked God where my home would be. I was so restless and agitated because I wanted to have a place I could call home. A home is where we know we can find love. A home is where we know we can be safe. A home is somewhere we run to whenever we get tired. A home is somewhere we can find acceptance for who we really are. This is why everyone of us wants to find our home, and that’s why I have been restless.
Then God answered, ‘Your home is not a place but with a person.’
Back then, I thought that it would be with the person God has selected to be my husband. You see, I was reflecting on Ephesians 5 where a wife is called to submit to her husband, and the husband is called to give up his life for his wife. To submit means to submit to the mission the husband is given, so back then, I thought that it was a call for me to make my home in my future husband.
While I was reflecting on this, I realized that my home being with a person is not just with any other person. True, when I get married, my home will be with my husband. But I will have another home. My home will ultimately be with the person of Jesus Christ.
How will that happen? I need to make a decision to want to make a home in Christ. The beautiful thing about our Faith is that God always proposes, he never imposes. He invites us to make our homes in him, but he never forces us to. And whenever he invites us, he also shares what we will receive when we say ‘Yes’ to him. When we decide to make our homes in Christ, he will make a home in us. However, we need to make a decision because God meets us half way.
I know it’s not always easy to make a decision, especially when God is concerned, but I have faith that we could trust God that the home he will provide will be filled with love, security, rest and acceptance.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, please give us the grace to decide to make our homes in you. It may take a while to build those homes, so please be patient with us.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for your promise of a home.