May 22 – Memorial for St. Rita of Cascia, Religious
St. Rita (1386-1457) was the daughter of Antonio and Amata Lotti, a couple known as the Peacemakers of Jesus; they had Rita late in life. From her early youth, Rita visited the Augustinian nuns at Cascia, Italy, and showed interest in a religious life. However, when she was 12, her parents betrothed her to Paolo Mancini, an ill-tempered, abusive individual who worked as town watchman, and who was dragged into the political disputes of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Disappointed but obedient, Rita married him when she was 18, and was the mother of twin sons. She put up with Paolo’s abuses for 18 years before he was ambushed and stabbed to death. Her sons swore vengeance on the killers of their father, but through the prayers and interventions of Rita, they forgave the offenders.
Upon the deaths of her sons, Rita again felt the call to religious life. However, some of the sisters at the Augustinian monastery were relatives of her husband’s murderers, and she was denied entry for fear of causing dissension. Asking for the intervention of St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, she managed to bring the warring factions together, not completely, but sufficiently that there was peace, and she was admitted to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalen at age 36.
Rita lived 40 years in the convent, spending her time in prayer and charity, and working for peace in the region. She was devoted to the Passion, and in response to a prayer to suffer as Christ, she received a chronic head wound that appeared to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and which bled for 15 years.
She was confined to her bed the last four years of her life, eating little more than the Eucharist, teaching and directing the younger sisters. Near the end, she had a visitor from her home town who asked if she’d like anything. Rita’s only request was a rose from her family’s estate. The visitor went to the home, but it being January, knew there was no hope of finding a flower; there, sprouted on an otherwise bare bush, was a single rose blossom.
Among the other areas, Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations. This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she buried her family, helped bring peace to her city, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled – and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.
- Patron Saint Index
…with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.
At the start of this week, Singapore went back to a state of ‘heightened alert’ as more COVID-19 cases surfaced within the community. Gatherings were cut back to groups of no more than 2, dining-in at restaurants and hawker centres was banned, and capacity for masses was cut back to 50 attendees (down from 150). The government deemed these measures necessary in order to curb any further spread of the virus. Naturally, many viewed this as a serious setback, especially as the economy was starting to pick up and we had been enjoying a few months of ‘normalcy’.
With ‘work from home’, or WFH now implemented, it was a case of ‘déjà vu’ last Friday in the office, as I switched off all the power points and cleared perishables from the pantry fridge. At the same time, my heart went out to all the frontliners in our hospitals and at the airport who had been hit by this new wave. Also to the business owners who have to shutter their operations or scale down yet again for a month. Truly, I don’t envy those in charge who have to make these difficult decisions for our nation.
As I led a short praise and worship session last Friday night over Zoom, I took the opportunity to encourage those in attendance to surrender their hearts to God, and to allow Him to come into our hearts and to heal our brokenness. So that we could all pray for an end to this crippling pandemic, as well as to guide our leaders. Brothers and sisters, I believe that if we can use this time to focus completely on Jesus, He will show us the way out of this new situation the world finds itself in. Let us pray for:
Wisdom — to permeate and flood those who are in positions of power; those who have to make life-or-death decisions each day; for our priests and religious, so that they can continue to preach in spite of restrictions; for those who patrol borders, who patrol our workplaces/commercial buildings and places of worship.
Faith — that despite all the restrictions in place, we come to Him each Sunday whether physically or online, and celebrate the Eucharist. Yes, even though He is not with us physically, we believe that He is with us sacramentally. Most of all, we pray that we remain steadfast in faith — that He will guide us all through the next few weeks and months, so that we can gather and congregate again to worship Him wholeheartedly.
Hope — that with news around us being so grim, particularly in India and the Middle East, He continues to shine His light into all the lives that seek hope amidst trying conditions. And that He delivers those who are suffering out of their misery.
Brothers and sisters, as we prepare for Pentecost tomorrow, let us all ‘raise a hallelujah’ in our hearts, confident that our God is one who will deliver us from our sufferings.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask for a fresh outpouring of your Spirit upon us so that we can be beacons of hope for those around us who are suffering.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for always loving and protecting us.