St Scholastica

Virgin (entered heaven in 547)

Dear Scott,

So you’re “restless and pessimistic” in “this dreary winter desolation which these barbaric Yankees call New England,” are you?  I was glad at least to see that you didn’t leave your eloquence back home in sunny Arizona. I hope you realize that feeling restless and pessimistic is morally neutral.  It’s utterly unimportant. What matters is how you respond to those feelings. The way you respond to them now, and throughout your remaining college years, will largely determine how you respond to similar negative feelings later on, when more is at stake (like when your wife and baby children are getting on your nerves because problems at work have worn you down, for instance).  May I make a suggestion? Don’t alter your exterior circumstances, keep going to class, keep fulfilling your assignments, don’t skip rowing workouts, don’t skip First Friday Masses – do everything you normally do, but instead of looking to “get something out of it” in the selfish way you’re used to, look instead to put more into it, more love, especially.  It’s the great secret to personal and spiritual maturity: to love more when you feel like loving less.  And you can love all those activities because you know that they are God’s will for you, and when you put your heart into them, you are pleasing him.

This reminds me of the anecdotes that have come down to us about today’s saint, Scholastica.  She was St Benedict’s sister (St Benedict was the father of western monasticism, remember?), born and raised in the vicinity of Rome, just as her brother was.  And when he built the great monastery of Monte Cassino (still around today, by the way, in spite of misdirected American bombs during World War II), she and a group of nuns soon formed a community for women not too far away.  He had the tradition of visiting her once a year. At the end of his last visit to her (she was to die just a little while afterward), she begged him to stay with her that night and continue their conversation. He refused since staying out past sunset would be a breach in his rule.  She buried her face in her hands and began to cry. Right then, a violent storm broke out, so violent that Benedict and his companions couldn’t even step out the door. Then occurred a famous little dialogue persevered for history by St Gregory the Great. Benedict scolded her, “God almighty forgive you, sister; what is this that you have done?”  She looked at him mischievously, “I prayed you to stay, and you would not hear me; I prayed to almighty God, and he heard me!” St Gregory goes on to explain that “No wonder if at that time she were more powerful than he… For according to St John, ‘God is love,’ so with good reason she was more powerful who loved more.”

Therefore, my shivering nephew, I suggest you fill up your “dreary” days with lots of love and just watch how that dark New England winter starts to sparkle.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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