Great intentions paved my road yesterday with a desire to write about St. Rita of Cascia, whose feast day we celebrated. Time, however, slipped away, as has been its frequent practice in the last month or so, so I write today.
Much has been written about St. Rita and her heroic suffering: Married young to a man with a violent temper; his subsequent murder and her sons’ desire for revenge; her prayer that her sons would die rather than revenge their father’s death and lose their souls; their death; her entrance into the convent, delayed many times; her acceptance into an Augustinian community; the putrid smelling wound of the crown of thorns on her head; and her example of great virtue and holiness.
Yesterday morning, I celebrated Mass as I usually do at St. Augustine’s parish. Being that St. Rita is an Augustinian saint, Fr. Rich prayed from the Augustinian lectionary. The opening prayer caught my attention.
Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord,
the wisdom and strength of the Cross
with which you were please to enrich Saint Rita,
so that, suffering with Christ in every trial,
we may be able to share more deeply in his Paschal Mystery.
As a wife and mother, St. Rita endured great suffering – something to which many of us can relate. How did she carry so great a cross? The clear answer is that she united her suffering with the sufferings of Christ.
All of the great saints call us to do the same:
“He who desires to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus.” And he adds that “there is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation of the sufferings of Jesus Christ.” ~ St. Bonaventure
“The holy sufferings of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also a sea of love. Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this sea. Immerse yourself in it, and, no matter how deeply you go, you will never reach the bottom. Allow yourself to be penetrated with love and sorrow. In this way you will make the sufferings of the gentle Jesus your own. Fish for the pearls of the virtues of Jesus. This holy fishing is done without words.” ~ St Paul of Cross, Spiritual diary.8th April, 1758
As to the Passion of our Lord, …never in anything follow your own will and your own inclination, for that was the cause of His death and passion. ~ St John of the Cross
If your soul is not elevated, go back to yourself, start from the beginning and review from head to foot all the ways in which this suffering God-man was afflicted and crucified. If you cannot regain and rediscover these ways in your heart, repeat them vocally, attentively and frequently; because what the lips say and repeat grants fervor and warmth to the heart. ~ Beata Angela of Foligno, Book of life, #18, p. 272.
But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be molded on His. He is the Light of the world; therefore in Him, by Him, and for Him we shall be enlightened and illuminated__ ~ St Francis of Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part II, Chapter I. The Necessity of Prayer, N.2
So, today, let us unite our sufferings, great and small, to the Passion of Our Lord and direct our minds without ceasing to the Cross of Christ, that with Him in His agony, we can say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us! Anne
Some references to help and guide us in this endeavor:
Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
The Passion of Christ: How to Meditate on the Passion of Christ by Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus
St. Rita’s incorrupt body lies in the Basilica of St. Rita in Cascia, Italy. “It is publicly known that her body has been seen in different positions in the glass case, as well as eyes have opened and closed unaided.”