Thursday, March 02, 2006

Saint Isidore the Farmer

Isidore was born at Madrid, in Spain. His parents were deeply religious and named their son after the great Saint Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, Spain.

Isidore's parents wanted to offer their son a good education, but they could not afford it. They were tenant farmers and like them, their son would be a farmer too.

When he grew up, Isidore went to work for a rich land owner, John de Vargas, in Madrid and worked there all his life. He married a good girl, Mary de la Cabeza, from a family as poor as his own. Isidore and Mary loved each other very much. They had a son, but he died when he was just a baby. Isidore and his wife offered to Jesus their sadness over the child's death, knowing that their son was happy with God forever.

Isidore went to Mass every morning before going to work. He worked hard even if he didn't feel like it. He plowed and planted and prayed. He called on Mary, the Saints and his Guardian Angel and they helped turn his ordinary days into special, joyful times.

The world of faith became very real to Saint Isidore. When he had a day off, Isidore spent extra time praying and adoring Jesus in church. Sometimes, on holidays, Isidore and his wife would visit a few neighboring parishes on a one day pilgrimage of prayer.

Once the parish had a dinner. Isidore arrived early and went into the church to pray. He arrived in the parish hall late and he didn't come in alone. He brought a group of beggars, too! The parishioners were upset. What if there wasn't enough food for all those beggars? But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for everybody else. Isidore said kindly, "There is always enough for the poor of Jesus."

Stories of miracles began to spread about this farm worker Saint. It is said that one day, Isidore was late coming from Church, Mr. Vargas was looking for him and found Angels plowing the fields in place of Isidore.

Isidore was an unselfish, loving and compassionate human being. He is one of Spain's most popular saints. Isidore died on May 15, 1130. In March, 1622, Pope Gregory XV proclaimed five great saints together. They were St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri and St. Isidore the Farmer. His feast day is May 15 th.

Isidore was special because he cared for the gifts that surrounded him. He let his faith in Jesus and the Church light up his whole life. Today we can make an effort to share the gifts we have especially with the poor.

O God, through the intercession of St. Isidore the holy Farmer grant that we may overcome all feelings of pride. May we always serve You with that humility which pleases You, through his merits and example.

Saint Rita of Cascia

Rita was born in a little Italian village called Roccaparena in Umbria. Her parents Antonio and Amata Lotti did not have children and begged God to send them a child. God answered their prayer and they brought Rita up well.

From a young age Rita used to visit the Augustinian nuns at Cascia and wanted to enter the convent when she was fifteen. Her parents thought that she should marry Paolo Mancini. He turned out to be a mean and unfaithful husband. He had such a bad temper that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of him.

Yet, for eighteen years, his wife patiently took all his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her and he returned to God. Rita's happiness over her husband's conversion did not last long. One day, shortly after, he was murdered.

Rita was shocked and heart-broken. But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her twin sons forgive them, too. The boys, however, could not forgive them and were determined to avenge their father's death.

Rita prayed that they would die rather than commit murder. Within a few months, both boys became seriously ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she was able to help them to forgive, and to ask God's forgiveness for themselves. They did and both died peacefully.

Now that her husband and her children were dead and she was left alone in the world, Rita tried three times to enter the convent in Cascia. The rules of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join even if her husband had died.

Rita refused to give up, and at last, she was allowed to join them. In the convent, Rita lived in prayer, complete obedience and was know for her charity. She had great devotion to the crucified Jesus.

Once, while praying, she asked him to let her share some of his pain. One thorn from his crown of thorns pierced her forehead and made a sore that never healed. In fact, it grew so bad and smelled so bad that she had to stay away from the others. She was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus.

Saint Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like Saint Jude, Saint Rita is often called "Saint of the Impossible." Her feast day is also May 22nd.

Heavenly Father, You granted to St. Rita a share in the Passion of Your Son. Give us courage and strength in time of trial, so that by our patient endurance we may enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Your Son.