10 Feb: St. Scholastica

St. ScholasticaSt. ScholasticaSt. Scholastica (+543) was the twin sister of the great patron and, perhaps, savior of Western civilization, St. Benedict.  We know something of her life from the writings of St. Pope Gregory I, "the Great". In the Dialogues GRegory says that Scholastica was the leader of a community of sisters following her brother’s Rule close to her brothers community at Monte Cassino.  According to Gregory, Scholastica was a very holy little girl.  She and Benedict would meet once a year.  They would prayer together discuss holy things.  Apparently, one time it happened that she did not want the visit to end, though Benedict was pretty much heading out the door against her requests for him to stay.  She prayed for a moment and a terrible storm rose up suddenly.  Benedict asked her what she had done and she replied, "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."  For this reason, St. Scholastica is often prayed to to help with matters concerning rain and storms.  At any rate, Benedict remained to visit his sister for the evening and then went home.  Three days later he saw from the cell of his own monastery his sister’s soul rising from the earth like a dove and returning to heaven.

COLLECT (2002MR):St. Scholastica
Beatae Scholasticae virginis memoriam recolentes,
quaesumus, Domine,
ut, eius exemplo, tibi intemerata caritate serviamus
et felices obtineamus tuae dilectionis effectus.

The verb recolo is quite interesting.  In the first place it means "to till or cultivate again, to work anew".  The third part of the verb recolo is recultum.  Think of the word "cultivate", which in English has many different meanings. 

Effectus can of course mean "effect", but another meaning has to do with with the result of an action, "an operation, effect, tendency, purpose".  It strikes me that this may be our meaning here.

Reflecting upon the memory of the blessed virgin Scholastica,
we beseech You, O Lord,
that, by her example, we may serve You with pure charity,
and we may obtain the happy objectives of Your love.

The word effectus gives our prayer a nice layer of meaning.  Since God brings to pass what He intends, for us, the purpose He has for doing something in our lives will be the same as the effect.  His purposes are effective.  However, He will not impose certain things on us against our will.  We must cooperate with both His objectives and the effects of His graces.


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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Z’s translation:
    Reflecting upon the memory of the blessed virgin Scholastica,
    we beseech You, O Lord,
    that, by her example, we may serve You with pure charity,
    and we may obtain the happy objectives of Your love.

    ICEL version:
    Lord, as we recall the memory of Saint Scholastica,
    we ask
    that by her example we may serve you with love
    and obtain perfect joy.

    Of course, in ICEL blessed virgins get short shrift, we ask God rather than beseech Him, charity (caritate) is always translated not as “charity” but as “luv”, and our highest objective is joy.

  2. Hmmmmm… UK & Ireland Breviary Translation:

    Lord God,
    May we, like Saint Scholastica,
    serve you with an unsullied love:
    and then our joy will be full
    as we receive from your loving hand
    all that we desire and ask.

  3. Unsullied! I like that. However, this doesn’t really say what the prayer in Latin says, does it!

  4. Don Marco says:

    Hosea 2:16bc, 17cd, 21-22
    Psalm 15
    Revelation 19:1, 5-9a
    Luke 10:38-42

    February 10, 2006
    Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
    Branford, Connecticut

    In an Office hymn composed some years ago for today’s feast, a Benedictine friend of mine addressed Saint Scholastica, saying:

    How little do we know
    revealing who you are:
    this silence, born of peace,
    perhaps speaks even more.

    Apart from a few precious pages in the Dialogues of Saint Gregory, we know nothing of Saint Scholastica. The little revealed by Saint Gregory has, nonetheless, inspired an astonishing richness of liturgical texts: antiphons, responsories, hymns, and prayers. Like miners in search of a vein of pure gold, anonymous poets through the ages have extracted from Saint Gregory’s few pages the raw material of chants and prayers that, even today, delight us and draw us into the heavenward flight of Scholastica, the pure dove.
    There is so much to see, to hear, to taste, to smell:
    – psalms of praise sung around a table, men’s and women’s voices in antiphony;
    – the breaking of bread and the fragrance of wine poured out;
    – the impassioned sound of Mediterranean conversation;
    – two saints locked in a holy difference of opinion;
    – Scholastica’s hands folded upon the table;
    – her head bowed and resting upon her hands;
    – her tears flowing freely;
    – the pentecostal wind, the crash of thunder and blaze of lightning;
    – the torrential downpour, heaven’s answer to a woman’s tears.
    In the end, Saint Gregory leaves us with the image of the dove, dazzling white in flight, disappearing into the light, and with the sound of Benedict’s voice raised in praise. That perhaps is more than enough for us, but in the readings of today’s Mass we are given still more.
    The liturgy, wildly lavish – precisely because it is the gift of a God lavish in love, offers us today a kind of triptych, three icons hinged together. At the center is the icon painted by Saint Luke. See Jesus seated in the holy house of Bethany. At his feet, see Mary, fixed in the stability of love, listening intently, the words of the Word falling into the open vessel of her heart. In the background, see Martha, bustling with anxious energy, fragmented and mobilized by a multitude of cares and, for all of that, conscious enough of the presence of Jesus to address her complaints to him and to no other.
    The scene is both strangely the same and yet different from the one described by Saint Gregory. In the Dialogues, the meal has already taken place, the bread has been broken and the darkness has fallen. In the gospel the meal has yet to take place but Jesus, anticipating the breaking of bread, is feeding Mary with his Word, causing the brightness of his glory to shine like the daystar in her heart. Christ is the Benedictus, the Blessed of the Father, speaking blessings, – bene dicere – uttering the good things that proceed from the goodness of his heart. Mary is the Scholastica, having placed herself in the schola Christi, the school of Christ. Martha, caught betwixt fear and freedom, is the tension between life’s regular demands – those of the Regula, the Rule – and the surpassing primacy of a love set free from fear.
    To the left of the central panel is an icon having, at first glance, none of the comforting warmth of Saint Luke’s domestic scene. It depicts the desert, the archetypical monastic setting. We see the bride wooed by Love into the desert only to discover there a gift of vineyards and, in the valley of Achor (meaning “trouble) a door of hope. Scholastica, having inclined the ear of her heart to the Word becomes, in the desert, the sponsa Verbi, the bride of the Word. She passes through the door of hope opened by the Bridegroom and invites us to follow in her steps.
    The third panel could not be more different from the first. It reveals what lies beyond the desert, mysteries prepared on the other side of the door of hope: “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). An icon speaks to the eyes, shimmering with the light of heaven, and yet, if you put your ear to it in lectio divina, you will hear “the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals.” Waters and thunderpeals again! Images borrowed by Saint Gregory! Listen closely: you will hear the sound of voices rejoicing at the marriage supper of the Lamb. There is the voice of a man; it is that of Benedict celebrating the triumph of Love. There is the voice of a woman; it is Scholastica singing a song never to be interrupted. “Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone . . . the time of singing has come” (Ct 2:11-12). Today, Scholastica and Benedict together invite us to the Supper of the Lamb.

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