thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings may be found here
Today is the feast of Saint Rita of Cascia. She was married at too early an age to a cruel and violent man. Amid great suffering, this woman of faith devoted herself to changing hearts. In an age of vendetta, she taught forgiveness and reconciliation. She demonstrated tenacity of faith in some of the worst experiences that life can throw at us: abuse, betrayal, violence, and illness. And for that tenacity, she remains revered by Catholics. On her feast day in the Basilica where she lies beneath the altar, the faithful come in great numbers and receive a rose. On her deathbed, Saint Rita asked for a rose. Even though it was winter, the sisters found one perfect rose in the frozen garden and presented it to her, a rose who had been beauty amid the thorns.
Saint Rita gives witness to the truth spoken by Jesus in the gospel passage today. As he continues to prepare His disciples for the terrible events of His passion and their future suffering, He speaks to them of the image of a woman in childbirth. She endures the suffering knowing that her purpose is a thing of joy. He reassures them, and us, that the anguish will pass and joy will endure.
During this pandemic when there is universal suffering, I wonder if we are all learning to be more aware of each other, deepening our capacity for empathy and compassion? Is it possible for us to understand with new insight that so many were suffering before anyone heard the term Covid-19? In light of Saint Rita, patroness of abused wives and impossible causes, today might be a moment to see the suffering that was often hidden or ignored. As we desire to see that joy promised by the Lord, might we need to be renewed in our commitment to do the “labor” of bearing that joyful life into the world?