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A story worth mining for a lifetime

The Feast of Scholastica, the founder of Benedictine life for women, is observed on February 10.

Benedict had a sister, Scholastica, who also dedicated her life to the pursuit of God. She too founded monasteries and became an abbatial figure. The only story we have of Scholastica is told when Benedict was already an abbot of renown. The incident demonstrates clearly that the brother and sister were emotionally close, and, both of them, a spiritual influence on the other till the time of her death.
 
During one of their annual visits, Scholastica, inspired by the depth of their conversation, asked Benedict to remain overnight in the place where they were meeting in order to continue their talk and reflection on spiritual things. Benedict wouldn’t even think of it. It was getting dark; it was time to get back to the monastery; it was time to get on with the regular routine of the spiritual life.
 
Unable to persuade him with words, Scholastica put her head down on the table in deep prayer. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a great storm brought flash floods and Benedict realized that he could not possibly return to the monastery that night. And the Dialogues say, “he complained bitterly.”
 
He said, “God forgive you, sister! What have you done?”
 
Scholastica answered simply, “I asked you for a favor and you refused. I asked my God and I got it.”
 
This story is a vein worth mining for a lifetime:
 
It tells us that law is never greater than love.
 
It tells us to be intent on pursuing the values of life, not simply its rules.
 
It tells us that discipline is necessary in the spiritual life but that religious discipline is not enough, that depth is a process and that depth costs.
 
It tells us that God lurks in strange places. And waits for us. And puts in our paths just what we need in order to become what we are meant to be.
 
It reminds us that a woman has as much power in the eyes of God as any man and that we must recognize women, too, as spiritual guides.
 
God fractured Benedict’s rigidity in favor of a greater vision. Has your rigidity been fractured yet?

                     —from Radical Christian Life, by Joan Chittister (Liturgical Press)

Click here for a discussion guide. This and study guides for many other of Sister Joan’s books are available for free on the book page at www.joanchittister.org.