Tomorrow, February 10, is the Feast of Saint Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict, who prayed and labored alongside him in 5-6th century Italy as they established religious foundations from which emerged a new Christian civilization out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Have a happy feast day!
Upon the eve of this great feast, the Diocese of Lansing's Director of Consecrated Vocations, Dawn Hausmann, pictured, now reflects upon what Benedict and Scholastica can teach us about the beauty and, indeed, necessity of holy friendships if we are to grow in the spiritual life. Dawn writes:
If you could use some intercession in seeking spiritual friendships and in growing in the virtue of love, Saint Scholastica is the sister Saint for you!
On this her feast day, I love the second reading of the Divine Office from Saint Gregory the Great in his rendition of Scholastica’s and her brother, Saint Benedict’s relationship that was deeply spiritual. They are unique in that they were actual biological siblings (twins), both founded religious communities a few miles apart from each other, and they shared in the deepest way of being siblings, spiritual ones, centered in Christ.
The story goes that in their meeting once a year, they would spend much of their time sharing with each other many spiritual things and praising God together. How awesome is that!? In one particular visit, Scholastica wanted Benedict to keep talking with her through the night about the spiritual life but he wanted to return back to his monastery cell (as his own Rule of life requires) but Scholastica prayed, and God brought a crazy storm that prevented Benedict from being able to return. She said: “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked God and he did listen…”
Saint Gregory claims that she was more effective in her spiritual life because she loved so very much. So beautiful, right!? Wouldn’t that be a great honor to be known for: how well you loved?
Needless to say, they talked all night about spiritual things and then she returned to her convent the next day. Three days later Benedict had a vision of his sister’s soul going to heaven. She had passed. Then she was buried in Benedict’s own tomb.
These two Saints are such models for us of what Godly spiritual friendship can look like and what are possible in Christ. Sometimes we see spiritual friendships between men and women saints like Saint John of the Cross & Saint Theresa of Avila; Saint Francis & Saint Clare; Saint Patrick & Saint Brigid; Saint Catherine & Blessed Raymond, etc.
Of course, we see holy friendships among the same sex too: Saint Ignatius & Saint Francis Xavier; Saint Cosmas & Saint Damian; Saint Felicity & Saint Perpetua.
How enriching it is when we find such a treasure with friendship. Friendships that help each other know, love, and serve God and his people better…and with great love are great treasures indeed. Scripture tells us: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thes 5:11) It also says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Through the intercession of Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict, we pray for the same graces that were poured out upon them to live as holy friends in Christ, to be poured upon us, that we too may grow in the great gift of Godly friendships, helping each other live well on earth as also to prepare for heaven. Amen!