Saturday, 31 March 2012

St. Rita of Cascia


Icon, St. Rita of Cascia, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
The fig leaves in the background refer to a request by the saint as she was dying -- 
When asked what she desired, the saint replied, "please bring me a fig from the garden".
It was the middle of winter; however, when the sister looked, one fig tree was full of fruit.

St. Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent. As she was their only child and they were elderly, they, instead, arranged a marriage for her.

Rita was obedient and became a good wife and mother, but her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger he often mistreated his wife.  He taught their children his own evil ways. St. Rita tried to perform her duties faithfully and to pray and receive the sacraments frequently.  As the years passed, her quiet faith had a profound influence on her husband and sons.  After eighteen years of marriage, her husband experienced a conversion experience and begged Rita's forgiveness.  In less than two years after this, however, he was fatally stabbed by an enemy, but before he died, he forgave his attacker and died in a state of grace.

At this point, her sons swore to avenge their father's death.  Once again, St. Rita prayed fervently, asking that her sons might be kept from committing mortal sin even if it meant their deaths.  Shortly afterwards, her two sons became gravely ill during an epidemic and eventually died, but not before having forgiven their father's killers and made their peace with God.

Now Rita was alone in the world. As always, prayer, fasting, penances of many kinds, and good works filled her days. Sadly, although she was free to fulfill the desire of her heart -- entering the convent -- she was at first refused entry.  The nuns were afraid that those who had killed her husband might now try to kill Rita and thus bring disaster upon the convent.  Eventually, however, after God worked a miracle for the nuns at Rita's request, she was admitted to the convent of the Augustinian nuns at Cascia in Umbria, and began a life of obedience and charity.

St. Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. "Please let me suffer like Thee, Divine Saviour," she said one day, and suddenly one of the thorns from the crown of thorns on the crucifix flew through the air and struck her on the forehead. It left a deep wound which did not heal and which caused her much suffering for the rest of her life. This suffering she, of course, accepted with joy, offering it for all those who requested her prayers.  Many miracles were accomplished through her suffering and prayers.

She died on May 22, 1457. She is the patroness of impossible causes -- a companion saint of St. Jude the Apostle who is the patron of impossible causes. Her feast day is May 22. She is also considered to be the patroness of those in difficult marriages -- especially those who suffer abuse, those who suffer from loneliness, those who suffer from sickness of any sort and those suffering from sterility.

Ignatius Press has a DVD supposedly on the life of St. Rita.  Unfortunately, it has almost nothing to do with the real story of the life of this saint.  It is, in my opinion, one of those Hollywood-type long-suffering woman changes bad man into a good man just before he dies a holy death.  I gave it my Yuck rating, but I do know of others who liked it.



An old holy card of St. Rita of Cascia
showing her receiving the thorn from
the "crown" of Christ on the cross.


At the right is an image of the front of an old, holy card I found of St. Rita online.  This is one of a type popular in my youth.  On the back you usually found one of those wordy prayers full of "thees" and "thous", followed by one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and concluding with:  "St. so-and-so, pray for us". At the bottom would be a nihil obstat (a printed phrase, followed by the name of an officially appointed censor, indicating that the publication carrying the phrase has been examined and judged free of doctrinal or moral error) prominently displayed.

So, in honour of this posting focusing on St. Rita of Cascia, let us say with the Church, "St. Rita, pray for us in all our needs and intentions.  Amen."




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PATTERNS

Many people are attracted to patterns.  I am especially attracted to patterns found in nature.  Back in the days when I was trying my hand at serious photography, I took numerous photos of patterns in black and white.  These could be especially effective when printed using high contrast paper.  I even did my own film developing and printing back in those days -- that's how serious I was!  If I wanted to achieve certain artistic effects in black and white photography, then I really had to develop my own film for the exact time I wanted and then print my own photographs in order to attempt to accomplish those effects.  Anyway, here are a few new colour photographs I have come across lately that please that pattern-loving part of me.  I hope you enjoy them too.


Green Pine Cones

Patterns in the rock USA


Sand patterns created by tide flow


More patterns in rock, Australia

Round boulders created by tide flow -- Like so many people, I love the feel of smooth stone


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SUKI AND SALLIE

We had one really warm week in the middle of March that broke all sorts of records, but now we are back into "seasonal" temperatures.

When your cat starts wearing your sweater
maybe you should consider turning up the heat
 According to Suki, you feel the cold much more after having had a warm spell.  Anyway, it is rumoured that we may even have a bit of snow on the weekend -- nothing serious, but nobody likes that "S" word this time of year.

Of course, since Suki stays inside all the time,  I really don't know what she is complaining about!

Lately, a new battle has developed between us.  Suki wants to sit on top of my printer so that she can easily hide and peer out through the slits between the blinds and watch the pigeons on the balcony above.  I, on the other hand, do not care whether she wants to hide, but I do care about my printer -- all her weight and constant shedding of cat hair cannot be good for my printer. 

Every day now we have this power struggle going on.  We have reached the point where as soon as Suki realizes that I have seen her sitting on the printer and am headed her way,  she reluctantly moves on up onto the window ledge.  Her philosophy is --what the "bossy lady" can't see won't hurt her--.  The eventual outcome of this battle is already decided, of course.  Sooner or later, after countless, futile efforts to get her to change her behaviour, I will give up and say "to heck with it -- it is just not worth all this effort".  I am sure Suki already senses her victory!

As for me, I am doing fine.  Early yesterday morning, when I was able to remove all the leads attached to my chest for the 48-hour Holter monitor test and have a shower, I felt great.  Now I just have to wait until this coming Thursday to find out the results and see if there is anything that needs fixing in my poor, old heart.  Until then, I plan to just take life easy, resting when I need to and prepare myself for Easter.

Finally, today, I have a spiritual reflection question for you to consider.  You may remember the story in John 5 about the man who had been lying beside the pool for 38 years waiting to be healed. In verse 6, our Lord Jesus asked the man: "Do you want to be healed?"  What if our Lord stood before you and asked "do you want to be healed?"  What would your answer be? Remember, healing could be emotional, psychological or physical or all three at once.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share on this question, feel free to make a comment below or to write to me directly.

May the peace of God be with us all.


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