The Church on the Cutting Edge: Yes, There's a Patron Saint for "That."

The Seventh Friday of Easter; or, the Memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, Religious.

Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:

• Acts 25: 13-21.
• Psalm 103: 1-2, 11-12, 19-20.
• John 21: 15-19.

The Second Friday of Ascension.

Lessons from the dominica, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:*

• I Peter 4: 7-11.
• John 15: 26-27; 16: 1-4.**

The Otdanije (Leave-Taking) of Ascension.

Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the typicon of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite:

[At the First Hour:]
• Numbers 11: 24-29.
• Acts 2: 14-21.
• John 15: 17—16: 15.

[At the Third Hour:]
• Joel 2: 23-32.
• Acts 2: 14-21.
• John 20: 19-23.

[At the Divine Liturgy:]
• Acts. 27: 1-44.
• John 17: 18-26.

[At the Sixth Hour:]
• Ezekiel 36: 24-28.
• Acts 20: 16-36.
• Luke 24: 36-53.

[At the Ninth Hour:]
• Isaiah 61: 1-10.
• Acts 2: 1-11.
• John 7: 37-52; 8: 12.***

1:44 PM 5/22/2015 — Most of you probably know the story of Saint Rita of Cascia, as she's always been a very popular saint. I first encountered her after high school when I entered the postulancy of the Augustinian Fathers, in which I did not persevere.
     For those of you not familiar with her, she was a 14th and 15th century Italian saint who was married to a very abusive husband, with whom she suffered for eighteen years, and with whom she raised two sons. When her husband was murdered in one of those weird Sicilian vendettas, she tried to enter a convent of the Augustinian sisters, but was refused because the community feared the violence that usually erupted between feuding families following these kinds of honor killings; but, she was able to successfully convince her sons not to exact the customary vengeance, and eventually did gain entrance to the community, where she devoted herself for forty years to the care of the sick and the poor, and become known for the austerity of her life and her gift of mystical contemplation. Toward the end of her life she was granted the gift of a stigmata in the form of a wound on her forehead after hearing a sermon on our Lord's crown of thorns.
     It goes without saying that she's the patron of those in abusive and difficult marriages; and, even though Saint Rita is not regarded officially as a martyr, it behooves us to consider that an abusive marriage is a kind of martyrdom, and I choose to regard the gift of the stigmata that was eventually granted to her as an acknowledgment of that on the part of our Blessed Lord. So, she becomes the perfect patron saint for those who find themselves in abusive relationships, and a model for seeing in that a participation in the Passion.
     The analogy limps a little bit inasmuch as Rita's marriage was arranged for her at a young age and she didn't have much to say about it; but, people today do tend to jump into relationships without much forethought, which can be just as bad, and hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Nonetheless, her feast is still the perfect day on which to pray for those who find themselves in such situations; and, if that's ourselves, we have presented to us by the Church the perfect patron saint, who was able to turn that kind of slow, lingering suffering into a life of great good for others combined with a serene and grace-filled interior life in union with Christ.

* Outside of privileged seasons, no lessons are provided for ferias; the readings are repeated from the previous Sunday.

** Throughout Ascensiontide, until the end of the Octave of Pentecost, the Gradual Psalm is omitted; it resumes during the Pentecost season.

*** The third lesson for the Ninth Hour is an anticipation of the Gospel lesson for Pentecost Sunday.