St Paula Frassinetti

Foundress of the Sisters of St Dorothy (entered heaven this day in 1882)

Dear Paul,

OK, fine, be that way.  Complain, complain, complain – if it makes you feel better, go right ahead.  But if you decide to live your life according to how you feel instead of according to what you believe, you’re headed for disaster.  Just because your junior year didn’t work out the way you had planned doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you.  What, do you think he forgot about you or something?  Don’t be ridiculous.  Exercise a bit of mature Christian reasoning: trust in God’s Providence, and stop pouting.  I think you could use a good scolding from today’s saint.

Paula didn’t have the ideal childhood.  Her parents were pious, but they were also poor.  Poor enough, in fact, that when her mother died (she was nine at the time) Paula had to take up the household chores while her father worked and her four brothers went to school (they all ended up becoming priests).

She was a little young for such detail, however, and an aunt moved in to help.  But soon the aunt died as well, and at the age of 12 Paula became the official homemaker.

She didn’t have the chance to go to school, but her brothers would share their lessons with her in the evenings, and her father would help fill in the gaps, so in the end she received a decent education and developed a good pedagogical instinct.  She went to Mass each morning and spent her days taking care of the home – accompanied only by prayer and by her adopted mother, i.e. the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When she was 20 she fell ill and was forced to move in with one of her brothers who served a parish in northern Italy.  It was doubtful whether she would survive, let alone recover, but in the end her health returned.  When it did, she and her brother decided to start up a school for poor girls, in which Paula would be the teacher and headmistress.  Soon other like-minded young women joined her, and she founded the Sisters of St Dorothy, dedicated to extending that same mission in other needy areas.  Before long they had foundations throughout Italy, as well as in Portugal and Brazil.

From poor housemaid to bedridden invalid, to schoolteacher, to Foundress, to canonized saint… It’s not a bad itinerary.  I don’t think it would have been so happily completed, however, had Paula given in to the kind of self-pity that is threatening to conquer your spirits – even though, frankly, I think she would have had a lot more reasons than you to do so.

Your loving uncle,


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