St. Scholastica: The Power of Understated Love

scholastica2Today is the feast day of my very favorite saint, Benedict’s twin sister, Scholastica. Although she didn’t leave behind any great writings, and (like most women of her day) had very little on record about her life, Pope St. Gregory the Great records one memorable scene from her life in his Dialogues, Chapter 33, that reveals the spirit of this strong yet gentle and prayerful woman. I love her because she reminds me of the power of desperate prayer: When trying to move someone’s heart, prayer can be more persuasive than argument!

In the windows of heaven, the saints shine like stained glass, radiating the light of God to the world below. No two bits of glass — and no two saints — are alike. Together, the “communion of saints” (those following Jesus on earth, those journeying through Purgatory, and those who are already seeing God in heaven) are a mighty force of intercessory light in our cold, dark world. So this week is dedicated to learning about prayer, and especially the most important prayer, the Rosary. We will also be looking at the Sacrament of Baptism, and exploring how we join the family of God through this ancient rite.

#PrayerStories: Sneaking into Mass

Holy FamilyNow, a lot of DREs will tell you this isn’t the ideal, but I sneaked into Masses at Holy Family, an old mission-style parish in South Pasadena, for six months before I thought about joining the Church. I made an appointment with the DRE, who was surprised that I had been receiving the Eucharist all this time, and gently told me that I should wait until I was Catholic to do this. Reluctantly, I agreed.

She gave me a sponsor, who quit three weeks later (I guess I asked too many questions). So she decided this little lamb needed a shepherd with a firmer hand, and took me on herself. She invited me for breakfast after Mass, invited me to spend time with her family (something I sorely needed at that time in my life, as I was feeling rather disenfranchised), and answered all my many, many questions. Sometimes we didn’t agree, based on what I had been reading about Church teaching. But she gave me a place to learn and grow, and be part of a community. Dawn Ponnet at Holy Family Parish was in a very real sense my spiritual mother.

At the Easter Vigil, I stood outside the church with my beautiful white dress and red-and-gold sash and lit candle that she had made for me, and I thought about the journey I had undertaken. No one in my family was present — they lived far away, and none of them agreed with what I was doing. My college friends were also uncomfortable with this choice, and stayed away. Two co-workers had shown up to celebrate with me. I found myself singing a song I had learned in Sunday school:

I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus,  no turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.

I haven’t stopped following. Haven’t stopped learning. And if you’re reading this, I hope you will follow him, too. Let’s take up this journey together!