Frassati Fellowship of NYC

Reflections

written by members of the Frassati Fellowship

May 22, 2017

"For nothing will be impossible with God."

—Luke 1:37

Today is the Feast of St. Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of impossible causes. During her life, St. Rita faced countless situations that seemed hopeless and impossible. As a girl, her desire was to enter the convent, but instead she was forced to enter an arranged marriage with an abusive husband. Then as a wife and mother, she hoped to instill virtue and kindness in her husband and sons, but instead she watched them become entangled in a vicious, longstanding family feud. Through all this, her greatest goal—not only for herself, but for her husband and sons as well—was not any earthly happiness or success, but only Heaven.

Rita endured insults, physical abuse, and infidelities from her husband for many years. Such a man would surely seem a hopeless case. But gradually, through her patience and humility, Rita was able to convert her husband into a better person. As the family feud became more heated, he chose to become more amiable, trying to foster alliances instead of hostilities—which ultimately resulted in his betrayal, when he was murdered by a member of the opposing family.

Rita publicly pardoned her husband's murderers, but her sons were not so forgiving. Together with her husband's brother, they conspired to avenge his death. Rita could not persuade her sons to relent, and so she prayed fervently that they would never commit the mortal sin of murder. A year later, before any murder could be carried out, both sons died of dysentery.

At this point in her life Rita wished to enter the convent, but she was told that due to the scandal caused by her husband's death, she would only be allowed to enter once the feuding families were reconciled. Now this, of all things, seems an impossible cause, no? Rita prayed to her patron saints, and before long her husband's brother, inflicted with the plague, renounced his longstanding vendetta. A truce was formed, and Rita became an Augustinian nun, spending her days in meditation and prayer and, in later life, experiencing the stigmata.

At a glance, Rita's story doesn't seem particularly hopeful—rather, it seems like God answered her prayers by killing her family. Not the most upbeat story. However, Rita always had an understanding that this life is fleeting, and the length of our lives matters far less than the character of our souls. God allowed her husband and sons to die at a moment when He could take them to Himself and protect them for eternity. And He granted Rita, in her widowhood, the fulfillment of her childhood dream: to be wed to Christ alone. She was a saint amidst a family that didn't seem all that saintly, and God used her for great things at every stage of her life.

When Rita was on her deathbed, her cousin asked her if she wanted anything from her old home. Rita asked for a rose from the garden. This was January—not the season for roses. But upon arriving in the garden, her cousin found a single, blooming rose, which was brought to Rita to gaze at as she prepared to meet God.

Whatever your impossible cause may be—a blood feud, a lifelong dream, or a rose in January—remember the truth that St. Rita believed in so fiercely: nothing, nothing, is impossible with God.


"See, my children, we must reflect that we have a soul to save, and an eternity that awaits us. The world, its riches, pleasures, and honors will pass away; heaven and hell will never pass away. Let us take care, then. The saints did not all begin well; but they all ended well. We have begun badly; let us end well, and we shall go one day and meet them in heaven."
—St. John Vianney

Frassati NY
May 18, 2017

“…the priest elevated to the status of collaborator in the generation of supernatural life even through grace is beyond his power of generation. Indeed, since supernatural generation is the highest degree of human fatherhood, it is true to say that a priest is more, not less, a father than a man who exercises biological and natural fatherhood alone.” –Fr. Carter Griffin, Supernatural Fatherhood through Priestly Celibacy: Fulfillment in Masculinity

Brothers & sisters,

#nerdalert: I love priests.

Is that too much of an admission? I. Love. Priests.                                                                    

I’m heads-over-heels in love with the priesthood. A priest is, uniquely, among all living beings and vocations, one defined for eternity; a priest is one forevermore, like Melchidezek. The sacrament bestowed upon ordination etches into the priest’s very being a transformation that nothing can undo, and this transformation we will recognize even in Heaven, where, conversely, none are given in marriage. Priests form a race unique unto themselves.

Who is the priest? The priest is instrument. Where you and I pick up a saw as an instrument, in our own hands, to cut wood in half, so the Lord takes the priest into his own hands—goosebumps! Jesus, living, present, takes the priest in his own hands, the same hands with which he once sawed the same earthly wood upon which he would later hang crucified!—and, bringing the priest close, makes present his Sacred Body and Sacred Blood in the Eucharist; makes present his gentle, tender heart in Reconciliation, where he weeps over us tears of compassion; brings into the world a fatherhood with a power that belongs the Trinity alone, by the Holy Spirit, by the spiritual, by the eternal, by the divine. Mind-blowing. No more beautiful an instrumentality among human persons can we imagine!

Few things satisfy my love of expansive, far-reaching realities—hello, high school sci-fi and fantasy binge—as does this one, and it’s no surprise that Satan once told St. John Vianney that, “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.” (Please tell me you’ve all read the actual Lord of the Rings texts by Tolkien. If not, you must.)

Let us love our priests. Let us pray for them, for they receive the grandest of gifts, of vocations, and must do so perfectly humble, perfectly stripped, ready to be bared to the bone—for the Lord will keep them accountable for us, for our souls, for our encounters with love and mercy and compassion. I tremble at the thought.

A prayer: Heavenly Father! Papa, my dear Papa! You are the archetype of generation: you generate life, you demonstrate the beauty of fatherhood! You show us that to be a child before a father is to receive from the father one’s very identity. You give us your priests so that we may see your face more perfectly, and in being touched by their kindness and docility, we can learn more sweetly what it means to be a daughter, a son, of you, the living God. Pour your grace without ceasing on those who are our priest-gifts, and through them, sanctify your Church. Amen.

Prayer Request:

5/20/2017 marks six years since my mom's passing. I would be grateful if you all could lift my family, my younger brothers and dad especially, in your prayers. My dad is also heading into an important surgery on Monday--for his health and its success.

Listen:

Silence, fall; oh I am listening.
I am listening; sing to me.
Spirit, fall; oh please stay with me.
I am listening now;
I am listening now.

In the Silence – Sarah Kroger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F2VxxP1JR8

Frassati NY