Saturday, 27 August 2011

Widows

The Benedictine's at East Hendred have a good post about widowhood for today's feast in honour of St Monica and Richard Collins has also excelled himself with his musings on St Monica.

I did perhaps overdo the amount of widowhood (and alcohol) in my choice of patrons; choosing both St Monica and St Rita. Then again, they chose me, I did not choose them, and they have been the most loyal of friends. And indeed, a third widow, St Jane Frances de Chantal has recently come into my life. Whilst wandering throught the convent where I was staying, I found her relic and prayed before it. I then get back to Blighty on her feast day and find myself at Mass in her honour, I am just beginning to get to know her too.

One thing is certain, there is a great apostolate of prayer involved in widowhood. This is possibly, because in the loss there is a greater identity with God as the Infinite Solitude (see Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity's famous prayer). The Infinite Solitude isn't a concept our two most recent Holy Fathers have had much time for, but they are shepherds trying to bring home the flock, they have to stress the solidarity of God rather than the solitude of God. The "pious widow" is already in the sheep pen and waiting, she has stared into the abyss of unfathomable love and knows something of the solitude. Solitude isn't isolation or even lonliness in the sentimental sense, nor is it some existential crisis, it is a realisation that outside of God, there is nothing. Through the death of your partner, the unity of the marriage is broken, yet strangely made more whole. Widowhood is about allowing the Infinite Solitude to reach inwards and open up great fissures in your heart and soul so that one day you too may, in your own small, insignificant way have a soul that can magnify the Lord.

And if that wasn't enough, there's illness, there's bills and rent to pay, there's cooking, cleaning & ironing and there's teaching the drivel that passes as a science curriculum to uninterested teenagers.



The Young Widow - Edward Killingworth Johnson (1877), a bit sentimental for my tastes but it makes the point.

10 comments:

Richard Collins said...

Bless you Rita.

Mac McLernon said...

Ahhhhh... I see you have as much affection for the ideologically-driven tosh supposedly designed to make our youngsters "scientifically literate" as I have...

It really is utter garbage (especially when teaching about the disposal of polymers!)

;-p

Rita said...

Mac,

It is very hard to take seriously. When a colleague set a test about "killer asteroids" (yawn) and the pupils were asked how to prevent them hitting the earth, one of my boys answered "send in Chuck Norris". I gave him an extra mark, for making me laugh and for recognising the absurdity of all this non-science.

Anagnostis said...

The Synaxarion is full of widows. There are, on the other hand, hardly any presbyters there.

Interesting, that.

Cettis Warbler said...

Obviously as a history teacher I have a lot more fun covering the Deformation..... ;)

Rita said...

rare little bird,

do you not have the slightest pangs of consciece over this?

Cettis Warbler said...

Not at all and it gets becomes even more fun when I get to A level and the reign of "Bloody Mary". I have a keen Catholic and a keen Anglican student this year and I'm looking forward to the debate.

Not so sure about the amount of PSHE I have to tackle this year. How do you square your position as a Catholic with the (mis)information that the curriculum requires about sex ed?

Rita said...

They keep this particular rabid Papist away from PHSE, they can't be doing with the fireworks.

In my form time however, I'm busy making sure they become "good little pagans". They learn classical thought on the virtues and the "transcendent third" in all their relationships. (Unbeknownst to the SMT).

Oh and as a scientist, if they ask me to make a comment on the dreadful sex ed leaflets the government hand out, I simply say I don't approve. "Do you identify with any of the cartooon like people in the drawings?" I ask, they say no so I say, "then they dont' apply to you, you are precious, your bodies are precious, and there is much you can do to keep them away from danger".

Cettis Warbler said...

Hmmm... you're right, it doesn't take much to give them the opportunity to think for themselves. I do a fair amount of this (e.g. you do have a choice... sex isn't compulsory... you don't have to be a relationship to be happy...) and it's no secret at work that I'm the school papist. I need to arm myself with more facts though, it's the mis-information and the false messages I can't stand. In my school there are a good number of Christian teachers and teaching assistants so I don't feel so alone. One of my science colleagues makes his Year 7s repeat the phrase "If I have sex it could lead to having a baby" over and over again to make sure this basic but oft forgotten fact sinks in...

On a separate rant I was horrified to find that my sons' session in Year 6, with the school nurse, on "growing up" had included sex and masturbation. None of us parents (Catholic school) were told this. I was hoping my boys would be allowed a proper childhood until they went to pagan secondary school.

Rita said...

Don't get me going over the acceptance of masturbation in society. I grew up on punk and at least with songs like the Buzzcocks "Orgasm Addict" (don't listen to it if you are easily offended), there was a general consensus back in 1979 that masturbation was grubby, wrong and could lead you to become a rather sordid mess. Never did I think I'd be holding punk rock up for its high moral tone.

The fact remains, through God's commandment to "go forth and multiply", procreation is blessed. Through the "fiat" of Our Lady and the birth of Our Saviour, the female body is sanctified. Through Our Lord "true God and true Man" the male body is sanctified. All acts then of the human body will be sanctified by the participation of our Creator in His creation, with ONE notable exception; masturbation. We could perhaps argue like school boys over the sanctification of burps and farts, but that isn't the point. Self-pleasuring goes against the Gospel, it is a grevious fault and we ought to help our young people steer away from it, because of where it can lead and the harm it can do to conjugal love.

Try saying that in school!