On 22nd May, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of “the impossible“. Much like our beloved ‘Goencho Saib‘ St. Francis Xavier, St. Rita’s body lies incorrupt at the Basilica of Cascia in Umbria, Italy. Here is her life in a nutshell.
Born as Margherita Lotti, she was married forcibly at an early age to an abusive husband whom she never gave up on. She prayed for him and offered regular sacrifices. She was kind and patient with him and expressed great humility in all her dealings with him.
Due to some family feud, her husband was murdered and her two sons vowed revenge on the feuding family. Rita wanted her sons to remain pure, hence she prayed for their death before they exacted their revenge and as it would happen, exactly a year later they died of dysentery.
After the death of her sons, she sought to become a nun. She approached the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene but was denied entry until she made peace between the feuding families. To achieve this, she implored her patron saints to aid her, namely St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine and St. Nicholas of Tolentino. She managed to stop the family feud at the age of 36 and was allowed entry into the monastery.
While at the monastery, she was also given the task of watering a dead rose plant till it flowered. Even though the task seemed impossible due to the cold climatic conditions, she obediently carried out her duties and one fine day the dead rose plant flowered.
In this year of mercy, we need to emulate the virtues of St. Rita in our day to day life. We should possess the virtues of obedience, sacrifice and perseverance not only to be good Catholics but also good human beings.
It is often said that in today’s world no one can be trusted anymore. Society has evolved to become self centered in an attempt to safe guard their own interests. Most of us due to this lack of trust, act in a way that we feel would benefit us, which breeds disobedience. Only through humility and obedience, can we restore the trust of humanity and make a difference. St. Rita wanted to become her nun but she obeyed her family’s wishes and decided to marry. While at the monastery, she watered the dead rose plant even though she knew that the cold climate made it unfavourable for the rose to bloom. Just like the rose plant that bloomed from the snow covered earth, we too shall bloom if we are obedient to Christ and to authority.
So often we fast, tithe and abstain from the pleasures of this world but if we cannot forgive the people who have wronged us it does not mean a thing. Rita made the ultimate sacrifice when she pleaded with God to take her sons before they exacted revenge on the family who murdered their father.
The biggest sacrifice in life is giving yourself to others. Just like a candle that burns itself out to provide light to its surroundings, Rita gave of herself to her abusive husband, stayed with him and tried to change him for the better. She gave herself to God her whole life and in turn God blessed her abundantly.
St. Rita came to be known as the patron saint of the impossible because she achieved the impossible through perseverance. For example, her abusive marriage which lasted for 18 years was proof of her patience and perseverance. She retained her purity while her husband continued with his infidelity.
Like her, we need to persevere in our day to day lives and learn to pick ourselves up when we fall. God offers us assistance when we need Him, all we have to do is ask because what is impossible for man is possible for God.
St Rita has always been my symbol of hope when the going gets tough. I continue to pray to her through the prayer that was taught to us by our parish priest.
Like her, I try to be obedient and patient. I struggle with anger issues and bearing grudges and have learnt that patience, forgiveness, humility and obedience are the keys to overcome that.
“St. Rita, advocate of the impossible pray for us”
is a phrase that comes to me automatically in times of distress and so often, solutions or opportunities present themselves. The prayer of St Rita includes a phrase that struck me particularly, through this I have learnt to surrender all my worries and problems to the lord rather than dwell in anxiety. It goes like this:
‘obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life…’.
Here is the prayer:
Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, so humble, pure and patient, whose pleadings with thy Divine Spouse are irresistible, obtain for me from thy Crucified Christ my request (mention it here). Be kind to me, for the greater glory of God, and I promise to honor thee and to sing thy praises forever.
Oh glorious St. Rita, who didst miraculously participate in the sorrowful Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen