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 moment....to 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.