Teaching Our Faith — St. Rita: A model for women

St. Rita of Cascia, a woman born in the fourteenth century in Italy, was a married woman, a mother and a vowed religious. She also is a role model to whom we can relate as women in those times of sadness, joy, disappointment, excitement and when uncertainty and the unexpected enter our lives.

Are you a married woman?

Marriage is a covenant of love, freely entered into, between a man and a woman in which both are called to help one another grow in holiness.

St. Rita was a woman who accepted her parents’ decision to promise her in marriage to a man who turned out to be quick-tempered and who filled her life with suffering. St. Rita showed kindness to him and prayed for his conversion, which she accomplished before he was killed by his enemies.

As a married woman, St. Rita was tireless in giving and doing all what was in her power to keep her family, her domestic church, growing in holiness. Certainly she found many challenges difficult to overcome.

In her time women had fewer options and assistance with abusive marriages. But St. Rita can provide inspiration and hope as women seek to find meaning in the ordinary activities of family life and as women seek help with their marriages in times of despair. For St. Rita, help with a troubled or abusive marriage was scarce; today men and women can seek assistance for troubled marriages through their parishes or through our archdiocesan Family Ministries Office.

Are you a mother?

For a woman, becoming a mother is one of the most wonderful things that can happen; it is the blessing of the miracle of life!

St. Rita bore twin sons who sought revenge for their father’s death. Rita prayed to persuade them against violence. Despite this, both of them left home to seek revenge, but they ended up dying of an illness before they could commit any crimes of violence.

It is not so easy to raise children. I believe that it is one of the most difficult vocations that exist, especially with so many negative influences such as bullying, drugs, contraceptives, internet pornography and so on. It is even more challenging if faith is not a priority in the lives of those raising the children.

I have heard from parents that there is no greater pain than the loss of a son or a daughter. To walk through the pain of the loss of a loved one and try to understand how God is present in those moments of grief is tremendously difficult.

As parents, you are not alone. Parishes and schools can provide resources as you seek to be good parents, and in the event of tragedy, your church family is with you through your parish and the Office of Family Ministries’ Pastoral Care department. This department seeks to reach out to people who are experiencing suffering and who are seeking consolation and healing.

Are you a vowed religious?

After the death of St. Rita’s husband and sons, she eventually joined the Augustinian Convent at Cascia. She was refused several times, but continued her life of prayer and charity to those in need. St. Rita asked God if she might share in Jesus’ sufferings, and when one day a thorn from a crucifix penetrated her forehead, she offered the pain for the well-being of people. Many impossible favors were granted through St. Rita’s intercession.

If you are not sure how God is calling you, take time to discern. You may discover your call in one of the communities that serve our archdiocese. Each congregation lives the Gospel through their unique charisms as teachers, health care providers, counselors and more. Religious communities offer many opportunities to discern your call.

Our Vocation Office can help you connect to one of the many religious communities in our archdiocese and beyond.

St. Rita is a model of a woman who embraced the will of God in each role of her life with love, despite the challenges that she encountered. She faithfully entrusted to God what wasn’t under her control with the conviction that for God, nothing is impossible.

St. Rita, known as the Saint of the Impossible, died on May 22, 1457, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII. She is the patron saint of impossible causes, parenthood, wounds, sickness and difficult marriages.

Eva Gonzalez
Hispanic Ministry
Special Projects Coordinator
for the Archdiocese of Louisville

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