St. Rita is a truly remarkable figure in the history of the church and the history of the saints. She was born in Umbria in 1381. From an early age she wanted to become a nun, a religious dedicated entirely to God. But her parents had other plans for her. They wanted her to marry, and so she did; she obeyed her parents’ insistence and married at a young age. But her husband turned out to be cruel and harsh and the marriage was very difficult, Rita’s only consolation during these years was God; she united herself often, in prayer, to Christ’s sorrowful passion.
After 18 years of a difficult, abusive marriage, her husband, who was a quarrelsome fellow got himself killed in a brawl. When her two sons vowed to avenge their father's murder, she feared for their souls. She tried to persuade them to let go of their anger, but to no avail, they began to plot a murder.
So she prayed, and she petitioned God to prevent her sons from sinning and losing their souls, even if it meant that they lost their earthly life. And it so happened that the sons developed dysentery; but, they were reconciled to God before they died, repentant of their hatred.
Free from earthly ties, St. Rita entered the Augustinian nuns in the nearby town of Cascia. She became renowned for her austerity, devotion, prayer, and charity; and for her patience in long-standing illness, she received visions from heaven and the stigmata—a wound resembling the crown of thorns on her forehead, which she bore until her death, which occurred on May 22, 1457.
So many spiritual lessons, from this brief description of her life:
She united her suffering to passion of Christ. And she followed God’s call to a life of religious consecration. I wish we lived in a culture where it was more common, as it was in those days, for men and women to enter religious life, and to become dedicated to God in prayer and fasting.
And she understood the consequences of mortal sin and the value of the souls of her sons. She understood that sin is the greatest of evils because its effects are eternal. So many parents these days are overly concerned about their children’s earthly successes without greater concern for their eternal welfare. The neglect of religious formation is deeply troubling.
St. Rita is one of the patron saints of impossible causes, we certainly invoke her intercession for the transformation of our culture whose conversion seems quite difficult these days. May St. Rita continue to teach us, inspire us, and challenge us, that we may reach the perfection for which we were made for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
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That Christians may grow in grace by uniting their sufferings to the Sufferings of Christ and know God’s presence with them in their sufferings.
For all those in difficult or abusive marriages, that the Lord will protect victims of abuse and bring healing and reconciliation where it is possible.
That all young people may come to value discipleship of Jesus Christ above all earthly pursuits, be preserved from sin, and grow in grace and holiness.
For an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life, and for a strengthening of all vocations of service.
For all those impossible cases which only the grace of God can remedy.
For the deceased members of our families, friends, and parish, for the repose of the soul of Fr. Robert Wendelken, longtime pastor of St. Rita parish, for all of the pour souls in purgatory, and for those who have fought and died for our freedom.