A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Location: Virginia, United States

Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Me and St. Scholastica, Scholastica and Me

Happy Feast of St. Scholastica, everyone! Along with Francis, Clare, and Anthony of Padua, Scholastica is one of my most talked-about Saints….almost to the point where many people get ‘weirded out’ by my enthusiasm. Many young men have been scared away when I’ve mentioned that if I ever have kids, I would like to name my daughter after St. Scholastica…I’m still trying to come up with a nickname that will roll off the tongue a bit more easily.

Since mourning doves are common in Virginia, my friends and family have heard me retell the legend of St. Scholastica’s death (her soul went up to heaven in the form of a dove) way too many times. When I came across an icon of St. Scholastica in a religious bookstore, I expressed my enthusiasm way too loudly…all the customers gave me that ‘is she crazy?’ glare. I finally gave up looking on Scholastica holy cards, so last year I resorted to making my own, much to the amusement of the local “Kinkos” staff.

Sure, most people have never heard of St. Scholastica before and images of her are not as ubiquitous as St. Therese, St. Francis, and St. Anthony…but even the aforementioned social embarrassments haven’t squelched my devotion to this Saint. Similarly, I think that everyone has some sort of quirky devotion…even though it might not be to a Saint. I know a lady who travels the country and lovingly collects matchbooks to display on her walls. One of my high school friends avidly played Frisbee. Another friend was convinced that Karl Malden was attractive and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. Even Sebastian Flyte of “Brideshead Revisited” had his Aloysius. And don’t even try telling my brother that Europop and Scandinavian progressive metal is uncool.

I’ll admit that Frisbee conjures up images of the 1970s and I think that Europop is over the top campy, but no amount of rhetoric, embarrassment, or obscurity can tear these people away from their beloved hobbies, interests, and quirks. The Catholic geek in me can’t be stopped either. But all this shows how God loves us, just as we love our off-the-wall quirks. Despite how dorky, obscure, “crazy,” and sometimes sinful we humans can be, God loves us in spite of it all. Nothing can stop God from loving us despite our weaknesses…and not even death could tear away His love for us. It is because of this that the Saints point us toward God…whether they are as well-known as St. Francis and St. Bernadette, or more obscure like St. Blandina or my St. Scholastica.

So have yourself a happy St. Scholastica Day and please don’t get “weirded out” if you hear me talking about this awesome Saint!

A few of my past “Scholastica” posts:



Saturday, February 07, 2009

Remembering Frank Parater, Servant of God...my first post of 2009!

Pax et Bonum, everyone, and Happy New Year! While the first weeks of the year have indeed been difficult for so many of us, I hope that you all have found joy in the many little blessings that God gives us. In that regard, I know that readership of my blog has decreased due to my writers’ block and other circumstances, but I’m grateful for those of you who still check back from time to time!
I figured that today, the “Feast” of Frank Parater, Servant of God, would be an ideal day to end my writers’ block and start posting again. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my obsession with Frank Parater, here are some of my past posts which delve into my devotion to this saint-in-the making:

2006- First post on Frank Parater

2006- Another one of my early reflections on "Frank"

Frank Parater- An Unlikely Hero

Frank Parater and "The American Dream"

Echoing the theme from St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, Frank wrote the following in a letter written months before his death: “I shall not leave my dear ones. I will always be near them and be able to help them more than I can here below. I shall be of more service to my diocese in heaven than I could ever be on earth.” In particular, Frank wanted to pray for the denizens of our home state of Virginia.

Over the past year, I’m sure that Frank has been praying overtime from his office in heaven! Within the past couple of months, tens of thousands of people in Virginia- and the rest of the country- have lost their jobs and savings, including many of my friends. For those of us who were already without jobs, employment was nearly impossible to find.

In my own case, months of futile job searching, hundreds of resume revisions, and fruitless cover letters left me embittered, anxious, and blind to the many gifts God has given me. However, I began to rethink this way of valuing myself when I randomly came across this quote from St. John of the Cross: “All goods were given to me when I no longer sought them through self-love.” It’s been quite a struggle overcoming the “employment=success=happiness” mindset and I often backslide, but I am strengthened by the way Frank Parater courageously channeled his gifts towards God and others. Thus, I’ve discovered over the past six months that happiness does not come in the form of a salary- it comes from prayer, reaching out to friends, helping family members, and asking the Holy Spirit to channel our gifts and talents according to His will. Besides, I feel much more in touch with my Franciscan roots now that I’m shopping in thrift and dollar stores rather than hitting the mall each week like I used to do several years ago.

When Frank left his Virginia childhood of scouting and camping trips behind to attend an unfamiliar overseas seminary, he was understandably anxious. Similarly, we are all a bit frightened to see our youthful ambitions slip away as our country moves into uncharted territory. However, the lives of past saints like Frank Parater illustrate that God always gives His children the grace to courageously shine Christ’s light in the most dark and difficult circumstances. In spite of ourselves, our prayers have been answered.

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