Skip to comments.A Patron Saint for Nuns [St. Scholastica]
Posted on 02/09/2007 4:18:09 PM PST by Salvation
Other Articles by Thomas Craughwell
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|A Patron Saint for Nuns|
One of the tragedies of our time is the decline in the number of nuns. In 1965 the United States reached the high-water mark with approximately 180,000 women religious, 104,000 of whom were teaching sisters; by 2002 (the most recent statistic) that number had dropped to 75,000 sisters, only 8,200 of whom were in the classroom.
The loss of those good and dedicated women who were a constant presence in our parishes, schools, hospitals and countless Catholic charitable organizations is incalculable. On Feb. 10 let's pray to St. Scholastica for an increase of vocations to the religious life.
St. Scholastica (whose feast day is tomorrow, February 10) and her twin brother St. Benedict set the standard for monastic and convent life in the West by reacting against the way religious life was practiced in the East. Throughout the desert regions of the Middle East and North Africa lived bands of hermits and loosely organized communities of monks who hoped to become holy by practicing extreme penances. They deprived themselves of food, water, sleep, even clothes, to the point that many became physical wrecks and some went mad.
In response to these excesses, Scholastica and Benedict designed an orderly, sane, yet spiritually concentrated way of life for men and women seeking God. The Benedictines ate healthy meals that included bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, even a little wine or beer. They wore religious habits suitable to the local climate. They divided their days into regular periods of work, study, prayer and recreation.
Brother and sister both founded communities on the slopes of Monte Cassino south of Rome. Since men were not permitted in Scholastica's convent and women could not enter Benedict's monastery, to visit each other the twin saints met at a small house halfway between their two establishments. On one such visit Scholastica brought a few of her nuns and Benedict came accompanied by a few monks; they all spent the afternoon in pleasant conversation, dined together, and were chatting so happily after dinner they forgot the time. Realizing the late hour Benedict rose to go, but Scholastica begged him to stay and talk with her until morning. Benedict refused. His own rule forbade his monks from staying away from the monastery all night. As the men headed out the door, Scholastica bowed her head and began to pray. Immediately a violent storm broke over the mountain, with tornado-force winds and torrential rain. Benedict and his monks retreated back into the house.
"What have you done?" Benedict asked his sister.
"I asked you to grant me a favor and you refused. So I asked the same favor of God and He heard my prayer. Go back to your monastery, if you can."
So Benedict stayed and brother and sister talked until dawn, when the storm stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
Three days later Benedict was gazing out his window when he saw his sister's soul ascending to Heaven in the shape of a white dove. Today St. Scholastica and St. Benedict lie together in the crypt beneath the great abbey church at Monte Cassino. As for the rule of life they created together, it has become the basis for the rule of every religious order of nuns and monks in the Catholic world.
The office reading goes on to say that Scholastica actually accomplished more than Benedict, because she loved more.
Nuns into social action forget about love and prayer can accomplish miracles.
|Reading||From the books of Dialogues by Saint Gregory the Great, pope|
|She who loved more could do more|
|Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.
One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.
Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life. Sister, he replied, what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.
When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: May God forgive you, sister. What have you done? Well, she answered, I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.
Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.
It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.
Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sisters soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
Their minds had always been united in God; their bodies were to share a common grave.
Yes they were.
February 10, 2007
Twins often share the same interests and ideas with an equal intensity. Therefore, it is no surprise that Scholastica and her twin brother, Benedict, both established religious communities within a few miles from each other.
Born in 480 of wealthy parents, Scholastica and Benedict were brought up together until he left for Rome to continue his studies.
Little is known of Scholasticas early life. She founded a religious community for women near Monte Cassino at Plombariola, five miles from where her brother governed a monastery.
The twins visited each other once a year in a farmhouse because Scholastica was not permitted inside the monastery. They spent these times discussing spiritual matters.
According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the brother and sister spent their last day together in prayer and conversation. Scholastica sensed her death was close at hand and she begged Benedict to stay with her until the next day.
He refused her request because he did not want to spend a night outside the monastery, thus breaking his own Rule. Scholastica asked God to let her brother remain and a severe thunderstorm broke out, preventing Benedict and his monks from returning to the abbey.
Benedict cried out, God forgive you, Sister. What have you done? Scholastica replied, I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and he granted it.
Brother and sister parted the next morning after their long discussion. Three days later, Benedict was praying in his monastery and saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in the form of a white dove. Benedict then announced the death of his sister to the monks and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
Sts Scholastica and Benedict pray for us
from Altarpiece (central section)
Benedictine Abbey Church, Blaubeuren
Saint Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict. Following the rule of her brother, she founded the Order of Benedictine nuns.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
as we recall the memory of Saint Scholastica,
we ask that by her example
we may serve you with love and obtain perfect joy.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Song of Solomon 8:6-7
Set me as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:38-42
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."
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