Wednesday, 20 May 2009

St Rita - Model of Charity and Patience

We are fast approaching the one day of the year when my blog gets a serious number of hits. Dear blogger, I've decided that I ought to write something to make your visit a little more meaningful.

I am going to write something of a personal reflection on St Rita, my confirmation saint, whose feast day is on Friday.

St Rita is seen as a model of charity and patience. She was a peacemaker between antagonistic families, she worked selflessly to do God's will, and she had supernatural patience with her difficult husband and during her protracted and embarrassing illness in the convent.

What exactly makes her a saint of such popularity?

These are my opinions:

Nobody becomes a saint through passively suffering abuse. Personally I do not subscribe to the view that she suffered beatings and intimidation from her husband as a result of his drink problem. Even if she did, this is not what makes her a saint. I'm reminded of something attributed to the great St Philip Neri (whose feast day is soon too), he said "I would let boys break wood on my back, provided they didn't sin". To live with someone on the path of self destruction, (like her husband) requires prayer, patience and charity. What ever is done by the partner it is done in order to try to save the soul of the addict and this requires at least guiding him away from greater sin. The marriage bond is dedicated to helping the marriage partners get each other to heaven. Passively allowing oneself to be abused as part of the "obedience" of the marriage bond entails the abuser being led into greater sin, to me it is not saintly behaviour. Though we have no evidence for it, I'm sure her marriage was one of happiness amid the suffering. She was certainly a woman who loved well, this is seen in her relationships with many others too.

When her sons wished to avenge the murder of their father, Rita prayed that they would not sin and that they would enter into God's grace. Again this shows her care for the souls of others.

When in the convent it wasn't her rigourous mortifications that made her saintly. They were just a manifestation of her desire for total abandonment to the will of God.

What an honour was then bestowed on her, the only stigmatic ever with a foul smelling wound! Just meditate on that for a willingly take on the malorodourness and ugliness of the crucifixion in obedience to the Lord. I only hope I can have half her fortitude and trust in the Lord.

She is a very special woman, for her ordinary upbringing, ordinary education, her courageous response to the vows in marriage and the consecrated life and her profound love of Christ Crucified.


Kirk and Sir George said...

Great post Rita.
My late grandmother (1907-2008) shared a lot in common with this saint apart from having the same name and not least being an alcoholic, abusive husband.
Although married to a Catholic she was not one herself but somehow got to know about St Rita and liked what she read - seeing a kindred spirit.
In later years when my grandfather was dead and my grandmother was living with us, she kept her St Rita medal and sometimes, when she felt the need, or when painful memories were resurrected, she wore it round her neck so she was thrilled when I was able to visit St Rita's shrine and take photos for her.
Anyway, just thought I would share that with you.

Joe said...

I started reading recently a book by Jean Guitton, about St Therese of Lisieux. One of seven key points he identifies in St Therese's thought is that God dislikes human suffering. According to Guitton, St Therese did not associate salvific value with suffering, precisely as suffering; she saw it as a means to an end. The orientation is not to the suffering itself, but to that to which it leads. Guitton cites Jesus speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to illustrate the point: "Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter his glory?". At the end of her life, St Therese moved beyond any wish or desire for suffering as such, and Guitton quotes her as follows: "Now I no longer desire either suffering or death, yet I like them both! ... But now, it is only the act of total surrender which guides me .."

There seems a similarity here to what you have said about St Rita.

Anonymous said...

St. Rita and St. Theresa have answered my prayer.
I am forever grateful.

evelyn said...

I Love st Rita alot,i heard about her through a friend,and becouse of her wonderful dids am trying to let all my frends know about her,