|(Source:St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford, AZ)|
Today we remember St. Rose of
, the first canonized Saint of the Western hemisphere. She was born in Lima in 1586 and died there at the age of thirty-one. Peru
Like many who have felt a call to the Dominican Order over the centuries, Rose initially faced opposition from her family. They refused to let her enter a convent. Rose’s response was to become a Lay Dominican and to live a life of solitude and penance within the confines of her family’s home.
She had a great attraction to St. Catherine of
, a great love for the Blessed Sacrament, and limitless compassion for the elderly, homeless and the sick, whom she would eventually care for in one of the rooms in her parents’ residence. “When we serve the poor and the sick,” she tells us, “we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.” Siena
Rose enthusiastically embraced a life of penance and physical suffering since she also understood that “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”
While most of us today are not willing to voluntarily subject ourselves to the penitential sufferings which Rose sought and welcomed in her short life, all of us will suffer in some fashion during our earthly life. Rather than run away from such challenges, we too should embrace them and transform them into acts of reparation for our own failings and those of others.
I suspect our Peruvian Saint was given a glimpse of the extent to which twenty-first century Catholics would avoid the gift of sacrificial suffering when she wrote the following:
“Would that mortal men might know how wonderful is divine grace, how beautiful, how precious; what riches are hidden therein, what treasures, what joys, what delights. If they but knew, surely they would direct their energy with all care and diligence to procuring sufferings and afflictions for themselves. Instead of good fortune all men everywhere would seek out troubles, illness and suffering that they might obtain the inestimable treasure of grace. This is the final profit to be gained from patient endurance. No one would complain about the cross or about hardships coming seemingly by chance upon him, if he realized in what balance they are weighed before being distributed to men.”
What a shame it is that we too often ignore our predecessors in the faith, mistakenly believing they have little or nothing of spiritual value to offer contemporary Catholics! Hopefully, this brief glimpse at the life of this simple woman along with the following prayer, which will be recited by Dominicans throughout the world today, should dispel such nonsense:
“Almighty God, giver of all good gifts, you poured out the dew of heavenly grace on Saint Rose and made her radiant with humility, patience and zeal for the good of her people. May we follow in her footsteps and so become the sweet fragrance of Christ in this world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
St. Rose of
pray for us! Lima