Today, May 22, is the feast day of St. Rita Cascia. Today and tomorrow we will be publishing blogs on her amazing life and influence in our communion of saints. This is a woman you need to know. St. Rita, pray for us.
Saint Rita, known as patron of the impossible, parenthood, and difficult marriages is also my daughter’s namesake.
Her life is an especially edifying example of how to continually choose the love of God in the midst of difficulty, and how to find wholeness in Christ when it feels impossible to do so.
The details of Rita’s life really are quite staggering.
They include marrying into the Italian mafia, surviving a plague, multiple murders, revenge plots, and did I mention the ITALIAN MOB?! After an astonishing tumultuous marriage, and the death of her two sons, Rita sought to join a monastery. She was rejected three times because of her associations with one of Italy’s most notorious families. Nevertheless, God persisted, and levitated her there, an offer the nuns couldn’t refuse. A few years later, as a thank you that only a saint would want, she received the stigmata, and spent the rest of her life thanking God for her sufferings.
Rita, I think, reflects the feminine genius and God’s participation in it in a special way.
In Rita we have a woman that loved her husband, and his family, beyond their grave depravity. It is truly an act of bold daring, that Rita loves them anyway. Her presence in their lives is a continual reminder of truth, a constant indication that love is stronger than sin, and yet, they reject her anyway. Even so, united with God, she stood firmly on the truth of her feminine power.
Seven years ago, at the age of 26, I found myself questioning my strength to rely on God in a moment that felt impossible.
I was pregnant with my third baby; my oldest son was barely two, my daughter not yet one, and I was barely awake. To say I was surprised to discover a third pregnancy so quickly is to put it as lightly as the shade of the pink line that gave me the news, a rather delicate color for a statement so strong. I was filled with fear, which made me feel guilty, because truly, fertility is the most beautiful gift. But, I was exhausted, scared, and certain health circumstances made the pregnancy especially grueling.
Although my heart was full of the sort of peace that comes with knowing God is close, my ability to believe in my own capability to rise to the occasion of mothering three kids two and under felt nothing short of hopeless.
So when it came time to name her, my husband and I felt as we should pull out the big guns, and ask for the intercession of a woman who trusted fully, believed deeply, loved beyond measure, and reminded me how to stand firmly in my feminine strength when I doubted it the most.
The moment I met my daughter, my sweet baby Rita Therese, all of the fear, all of the worry, the guilt, scared feelings, questions, and struggles seemed to melt away in the presence of her gentleness.
There is not a day that I do not thank God for giving me the strength to overcome the trials of those difficult days and months that allowed my Rita to stand firmly in front of me continually reminding her entire family the joyful, gentle, faithful love of God.
Saint Rita, pray for us!