Monday, February 09, 2015

He Rested on the Seventh Day

Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin

By Melanie Rigney
Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)
(After the Pharisees and scribes challenged Jesus because some of his disciples did not purify themselves before eating, he answered :) “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” (Mark 7:6-8)

O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth! (Psalms 8:2ab)

Search an online bookstore for “St. Benedict,” and you’ll get nearly 10,000 results, many of the related to the saint’s rule for monks living in community. The rule’s recommendations on humility, obedience and earthly relationships offer much food for thought for all of us, monks and non-monks alike.

But search for Benedict’s saintly twin sister, Scholastica, whose memorial we observe today, and you will find fewer than a tenth that number of results, and many of those more related to Benedict than to Scholastica. We know little about her beyond that she and her brother were born approximately 480 in Italy, that she lived in a convent or hermitage, and that she died about 542, a few years before her brother.

The one story that has been passed down about Scholastica is that she and Benedict visited annually. As one might imagine, there was a great deal to catch up on when those meetings occurred. Finally, Benedict excused himself from one such get-together. Scholastica begged him to remain for the evening so the conversation could continue. She prayed silently when he refused, and then a severe storm began. “See, I asked you and you would not listen to me,” Scholastica admonished Benedict. “So I asked my Lord, and he has listened to me.” He remained with her until the next day.

It would prove to be their last meeting on earth; Scholastica died soon thereafter. This lovely, bittersweet story reminds us of the lessons of the first and Gospel readings from today: That rest, in the Lord and in our friends, is critical to our hearts and our souls and that sometimes, even the most logical and well-considered human rules and traditions need to be set aside to honor what the Lord clearly desires of us.

Have at least one in-person personal conversation today without looking at your phone or watch. Let it last as long as it needs to, no matter what else is on your plate.

No comments: