Monday, November 28, 2005

The Rule and the Law

I'ts been awhile since I posted a story about a saint. I'm a fan of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict. She's got backbone! If Scholastica intrigues you, I would recommend reading The Holy Twins, by Kathleen Norris. The book is more about Benedict, as the accounts usually are, but the story imparts some of Scholastica's spunkiness.

Scholastica and Benedict were twins who devoted themselves to God from an early age onward. Eventually, Scholastica became a nun, while Benedict became the monk who started a new monastic order and founded the Benedictine Rule.

Once a year, the twins would visit with each other, but only during the day. Benedict’s Rule said that he could not spend the night away from his monastery. During their last visit together, Scholastica had a premonition of her death, and asked her brother to stay with her. Benedict said no, the rules of the monastery prohibited it. Scholastica prayed to God for intervention. Just then, a cloudburst poured down rain in such torrents that there was no way Benedict could safely reach his monastery by nightfall.

"My sister, what have you done?" Benedict said. "May God forgive you."

“It was God who answered me,” Scholastica replied. "I asked you to stay, and you would not listen; so I asked God and God did listen.”

Then, the twins talked throughout the night. In the morning, Benedict left for his monastery. Three days later, Benedict was in his cell, praying, when he looked up into the sky. He saw his sister's soul leave her body in the form of a dove and fly up to heaven. Benedict rejoiced in Scholastica’s glory. As Benedict sent for Scholastica's body to be brought to the monastery and laid in a specially prepared tomb, he gave God thanks. Surely, in that thanks, was gratitude that, as firmly and devotedly as he believed in the Rule, his obedience ultimately lay in the law of love.

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