“See, I asked you, and you would not listen to me. So I asked my Lord, and He has listened to me.”
– Saint Scholastica
O God, to show us where innocence leads, You made the soul of your virgin St. Scholastica soar to heaven. Like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers. That we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen. (Troparion)
Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.
One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.
Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”
When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”
Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.
It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.
Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
Their minds had always been united in God; their bodies were to share a common grave.
Today’s liturgical feast of Saint Scholastica (480-543) is indeed a special one for all of us who follow and live the Benedictine charism. Scholastica, the twin sister of Benedict was born in Norica (Italy) and some of her bones are entombed with her brother’s at the Archabbey of Montecassino. What we know of Schoalstica comes from a brief entry in a greater work by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, The Dialogues.
Sister Catherine gives a keen reflection on the place of Saint Scholastica for us today.
Our thoughts turn to the various Benedictine monasteries in the USA and abroad, especially St Scholastica Priory (Petersham), for the Saint’s intercession.
Saint Scholastica is the patron saint for nuns, but she is asked to stop lightening, rain, and storms. Perhaps she has some influence over stopping snow (for the time being)?
Here is a poetic text honoring Scholastica that is normally set to music by J. Michael Thompson:
Now set me as a seal upon your heart,
And like a seal set me upon your arm,
For love is strong, as strong as mighty death—
No flood can quench nor waters bring it harm.
We give you thanks, O Lord of boundless love,
That you have taken to yourself this day
Scholastica, your bride and lover fair,
Who served in love and followed in your way.
In Bethany with Mary, Martha, too,
You taught while Mary sat and heard your word.
So did Scholastica within her cell;
She listened well and lived out what she heard.
Teach us to love and thus from you obtain
That perfect joy the Holy Rule proclaims.
Teach us to follow you through thorns of life
With hearts of praise, let us your grace acclaim.
O God the Father, all creation’s source,
O God the Son, who died that we might live,
O God the Spirit, font of ev’ry grace,
O Triune God, our thankful hymns we give!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
10 10 10 10
Deus, qui beátae Vírginis tuæ Scholásticæ ánimam ad ostendéndam innocéntiæ viam in colúmbæ spécie cælum penetráre fecísti: da nobis eius méritis et précibus ita innocénter vivere; ut ad ætérna mereámur gáudia perveníre.
O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.
Let’s pray for all Benedictines, monks, nuns, sisters and oblates.