Be sincere of heart and steadfast, incline your ear and receive the word of understanding, undisturbed in time of adversity. Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not; thus will you be wise in all your ways. Accept whatever befalls you, when sorrowful, be steadfast, and in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold and silver are tested, and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and God will help you; trust in him, and he will direct your way; keep his fear and grow old therein. Sirach 2:2-6
St. Rita had a lot to endure. Her real desire was to enter a convent but her parents arranged a marriage for her instead. Although this wasn’t her desire, she worked to become a good wife and mother . . . .which actually was a pretty difficult task, given that her husband was abusive, unfaithful and who knows what else.
She prayed for him. And prayed for him. And prayed for him. It was said he actually did mellow . . and then was murdered. Her sons wanted revenge. She prayed for them. They died of dysentery. Some say it was because of her prayers–that they died before they would commit mortal sin.
She then wanted to join a convent . . .but they didn’t want her because of the fueding that had gone on with her family and the one who murdered her husband.
so she prayed. Eventually the head of the other family got sick . . .and was no longer interested in revenge. She was then allowed to enter the convent.
It’s a high level look at the life of this saint, patron of the impossible.
Rita knew suffering . . . .left completely alone by the time she was in her 30s. But she also knew how to suffer well. When faced with suffering after suffering, she prayed. And then she went about working hard and doing the best she could with whatever she’d been given. The secular saying would be, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Rita had a great recipe for lemonade . . . it was to mix prayer with a little patience and steadfastness.
Another word for steadfast is constant. When I was on retreat a few months ago, the priest talked a lot about constancy. It really stood out to me–I guess because I feel like everything around me has just gone crazy. Sometimes going crazy seems like the more appealing option.
But what is God asking of me? Constancy. Constant in my love and faith. Constant in my awareness of God’s love. And then, as the priest said these problems don’t crush us.
And what a beautiful testimony we give.
This beautiful testimony is why I am writing about Saint Rita today–why we know her at all.
The other part of Rita’s testimony is how she “bloomed where she was planted.” She never wanted to be a wife at all! And then to have such a bad husband! But she didn’t pout, cry, complain, feel sorry for herself or give herself excuses for not being patient and constant. She strove to be a good wife. And then she was a widow. Still she just went ahead to do her best to continue to mother her children.
She served the Lord with whatever He gave her, wherever she was. Every time her life turned unexpectedly and usually tragically, she just became the best she could possibly be in the circumstances.
And there is the other lesson for me. My life completely turned, yes tragically. But the question is still the same. What does God want from in this new life?
You know what else the priest said on retreat: “Be thankful. Don’t let the problems taint you. Trials come up and there are consequences . . .Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Can you pray with Pope Clement X, “Lord, I want whatever you want, because you want it, the way you want it, as long as you want it”?