Updated: Feb 20, 2019
I have a hard time relating to the saints who knew they were going to be nuns from the time they were six - those saints who wanted to do nothing but pray, embrace suffering, & die as martyrs. I wish I was so holy, but I really hate suffering & I am far from praying for a martyr’s death. I do want to be like Christ, and I want to know God more deeply, and I believe He will give me the grace to encounter what hardship comes my way. But I am no St. Scholastica.
Every year on her feast day, we read The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica, beautifully illustrated by Tomie dePaola. We read about her deep affection for her twin brother, Benedict and about her entrance into the monastery. She would come to visit her brother every year, and they would meet in the gatehouse of his monastery to talk for the day.
My favorite part of the story is when one year at their annual visit, they are having such a great conversation that the sun begins to set before Benedict realizes it. He says he must get back up the mountain to his monastery (in keeping with the rule that he wrote & instituted), but Scholastica begs him to just stay and keep talking. When he objects, she turns to God in prayer. As she prays and cries, a thunderstorm begins. The harder she cries, the more the rain falls. Benedict sees that it is impossible for him to return that night and asks her what she did. She responds, “You wouldn’t listen to me, but God did. Go now, if you can, back to your monastery!” This results in the brother and sister spending the whole night praying and talking together. As it happens, this was their last earthly meeting, as Scholastica died three days later.
I love this story because it reminds me of God’s fatherhood and His paternal love for us. Also because this weeping, imploring St. Scholastica is one I can relate to. She is asking for a favor that means breaking Benedict’s rule, but God in His mercy grants her request.
I sometimes struggle to see God as loving Father, particularly when I am asking for something I want rather than something I need. In 2010 we were living outside of Rome in Santa Marinella. I hated it because I wanted to be in the city, and I was commuting two hours by train every day into Rome and back with two small children in a double buggy. We began to look for a place in the city, and we stumbled on the most amazing flat - even down to the decor, it suited us perfectly. The couple renting it out were willing to be flexible on the price for the right family; they wanted someone who would really appreciate it because it meant a lot to them. They were interviewing different families before making a final decision. While waiting to hear back from them after our interview, I remarked to a friend of mine, “I am sure we won’t get it. I want it too much. God wants me to teach me a lesson - to be detached and realize that my happiness is in Him and not in my situation.” With great conviction she replied, “God is your loving Father who loves to give you good gifts! You will get it!” And when we did, I was so struck with a real sense of the generosity of His fatherhood, of His very personal love for me, His daughter. We didn’t need this flat. It was just a gift, just because He loves me. That was the lesson He wanted to teach me.
Visit my St. Scholastica page to read more, see suggestions for how to celebrate, & to get this beautiful, printable PDF of feast day ideas, prayers, quotes, and icon