Rita of Cascia, Religious
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St. Rita of Cascia was born in the little town of Roccaporena, in the province of Umbria, Italy, Rita was married and raised two sons. After the murder of her husband, she urged forgiveness in contrast to the vendetta customary in those days. She was repeatedly denied entrance to the Augustinian convent due to the constant threat of violent revenge by her husband's relatives. Through her personal intercession a promise of forgiveness and peace was secured and she began forty years of austerities, contemplation, and service to the sick and the poor. Toward the end of her life she bore a wound as from a thorn after hearing a sermon on the crown of thorns.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord,
the wisdom and strength of the Cross,
with which you were pleased to endow Saint Rita,
so that, suffering in every tribulation with Christ,
we may participate ever more deeply in his Paschal Mystery.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
Gospel Reading: Luke 6:27-38
"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II TO THE PILGRIMS DEVOTED TO ST RITA OF CASCIA ON THE CENTENARY OF HER CANONIZATION, Saturday, May 20, 2000
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I am pleased to offer you a cordial welcome and to express to you my joy at the special event which has brought us together here. You have come in large numbers to make your pilgrimage to Rome and to pass through the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee. I greet Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State. I greet dear Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Spoleto-Norcia and thank him for the words and good wishes he addressed to me on your behalf. I greet Cardinal Opilio Rossi, the Armenian Patriarch and all the Bishops present. I greet the Fathers General, the religious and nuns of the Order of St Augustine, as well as the authorities of every order and rank. Your presence reminds me of the visit I made 20 years ago to the town of Cascia to visit the people struck by the earthquake of 1979.
Among us today is an illustrious pilgrim who joins us from heaven in our prayer. It is St Rita of Cascia, whose mortal remains, brought to Rome by the Italian Police, accompany the crowds of those who devotedly call upon her with affectionate familiarity and confidently bring to her the problems and anxieties that weigh upon their hearts.
Today it is as if the shrine of Cascia had been moved to St Peter's Square. And you have come to venerate her, dear pilgrims, from every part of the world. Together with her you intend to renew your deepest sentiments of fidelity and communion to the Pope, as she did in her lifetime.
The mortal remains of St Rita, which we venerate here today, are a significant sign of what the Lord accomplishes in history when he finds humble hearts open to his love. Here we see the frail body of a woman who was small in stature but great in holiness, who lived in humility and is now known throughout the world for her heroic Christian life as a wife, mother, widow and nun. Deeply rooted in the love of Christ, Rita found in her faith unshakeable strength to be a woman of peace in every situation.
In her example of total abandonment to God, in her transparent simplicity and in her unflinching fidelity to the Gospel, we too can find sound direction for being authentic Christian witnesses at the dawn of the third millennium.
2. But what is the message that this saint passes on to us? It is a message that flows from her life: humility and obedience were the path that Rita took to be ever more perfectly conformed to the Crucified One. The mark which shines on her forehead is the verification of her Christian maturity. On the Cross with Jesus, she is crowned in a certain way with the love that she knew and heroically expressed within her home and by her participation in the events of her town.
Following the spirituality of St Augustine, she became a disciple of the Crucified One and an "expert in suffering"; she learned to understand the sorrows of the human heart. Rita thus became the advocate of the poor and the despairing, obtaining countless graces of consolation and comfort for those who called upon her in the most varied situations.
Rita of Cascia was the first woman to be canonized in the Great Jubilee at the beginning of the 20th century, 24 May 1900. In decreeing her sainthood, my predecessor Leo XIII observed that she pleased Christ so much that he chose to imprint upon her the seal of his charity and his passion. This privilege was granted to her for her exceptional humility, her interior detachment from earthly desires and the admirable penitential spirit which accompanied her at every moment of her life (cf. Apostolic Letter Umbria gloriosa sanctorum parens, Acta Leonis XX, pp. 152-153).
3. Today, 100 years after her canonization, I am pleased to offer her again as a sign of hope, especially to families. Dear Christian families, by imitating her example, may you also know how to find in your fidelity to Christ the strength to fulfil your mission of service to the civilization of love!
If we ask St Rita for the secret to this extraordinary work of social and spiritual renewal, she replies: fidelity to the Love that was crucified. Rita, with Christ and like Christ, goes to the Cross always and only through love. Like her, then, let us turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus, who died on the Cross and rose for our salvation. It is he, our Redeemer, who makes the family's mission of unity and fidelity possible, as he did for this beloved saint, even in moments of crisis and difficulty. And it is he who gives concrete form to the Christian commitment to building peace by helping them to overcome the conflicts and tensions which unfortunately are so frequent in daily life.
4. The saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian women who "have had a signifiant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society" (Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, n. 27). Rita well interpreted the "feminine genius" by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.
On the sixth centenary of her birth I recalled that her lesson "is concentrated on these typical elements of spirituality: the offer of forgiveness and the acceptance of suffering, not through a form of passive resignation ... but through the strength of that love for Christ who, precisely in the episode of his being crowned, suffered, along with other humiliations, an atrocious parody of his kingship" (Insegnamenti V/I , 874).
Dear brothers and sisters, the worldwide devotion to St Rita is symbolized by the rose. It is to be hoped that the life of everyone devoted to her will be like the rose picked in the garden of Roccaporena the winter before the saint's death. That is, let it be a life sustained by passionate love for the Lord Jesus; a life capable of responding to suffering and to thorns with forgiveness and the total gift of self, in order to spread everywhere the good odour of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:15) through a consistently lived proclamation of the Gospel. Dear devoted pilgrims, Rita offers her rose to each of you: in receiving it spiritually strive to live as witnesses to a hope that never disappoints and as missionaries of a life that conquers death.
5. I now extend my cordial greeting to the members of the Italian National Federation of the Knights of Labour, who have come to Rome to celebrate their Jubilee. I welcome you all. Dear friends, your activity seeks to improve the economic and social standing of workers. I hope that through your efforts you can always contribute to the common good, to the formation of young people who will have a place in the world of production, to the gradual elimination of unjust inequalities and to the solution of the worrying problem of unemployment.
As you face the rapid changes affecting modern society, be ready to meet the current challenges of economics and globalization, without ever losing sight of the fundamental values of human dignity, solidarity with the weakest, the humanization of labour and the social nature of work.
6. Dear brothers and sisters, I invoke Mary's protection on you in this month which is particularly dedicated to her. Through her intercession and through the intercession of St Rita and St Benedict, may you and your loved ones be granted all the graces you need. I assure you of my prayer for this, as I cordially bless you all.
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