Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014 Thursday: St. Rita of Casica

God's love for us is expressed in the graces He showers us. In today's Gospel God says if we want to stay in His graces, He expects, not demands, that we obey Him. There is a big difference: expecting means a package deal while demanding means there are strings attached. While there is no conditionality for staying in God's love, it is our job to be worthy of or to deserve those graces because in the first place we are not and we do not. When we say we love God but disobey His commandments, disharmony sets in. A simple bother is when our troubled conscience kicks in. But more painful is when God starts to take back what was given.
To illustrate how hard yet how rewarding it is to consistently stay in God's grace, here is the story St. Rita of Cascia whose feast we celebrate today. Young Margherita was a beautiful woman who wanted to be a nun. But instead she followed her parents' wishes in an arranged wedding with a man she barely knew. She became a battered wife but events took over when the belatedly remorseful husband was murdered. She had two sons who planned for revenge. Again St. Rita expressed her wish in a prayer that instead of the sons becoming murderers, "may God take them both." Shortly, both sons got sick and eventually died. Widowed and alone in her old age, St. Rita decided to pursue her previous plan to be a nun. Three times she was turned down. One night she returned to the convent after all doors were locked. When she was able to open the doors without keys, the community took this as a sign from God and she was finally admitted. She stayed in the convent for the next 44 years strictly observing her vows. Although she by then had attained her single ambition, her fierce devotion to God further gained her a distinct honor of feeling the pain of Jesus' thorn on her forehead complete with a deep wound that remained open up to her death on May 22, 1457 at the age of 76. Nearing death, she asked for a rose from the monastery garden. It was deep in winter, but a nun found roses blooming amidst the snow. As with all her wishes, she did not demand for results. She knew it would be given. So great was her love of God and her devotion to His will. Indeed God's joy was in her and her joy was complete.