St. Rita of Cascia serves as a beautiful example of someone who enacted our next Spiritual Works of Mercy, Bear Wrongs Patiently. She was born in Cascia, Italy in 1381. The culture during the the time she lived was one that celebrated vendettas and callousness. It was the duty of the family to defend the family’s honor.
St. Rita did not have an easy life. Her marriage to Paulo Mancini had many difficulties. Paulo was known as a man of harsh words and a quick temper. Instead of lashing out at him and returning what he showed her, St. Rita instead combatted his outbursts with patience, humility, fortitude, and gentleness. She slowly converted her husband’s heart through fervent prayer, patience, and humility.
Paulo’s quick-temper came back to haunt him years after his conversion and softening. One night while out walking, he was murdered by someone he offended years prior. St. Rita grieved and wept for her husband, and like everything else in life she turned to God and her faith to comfort in her times of sorrow and suffering.
Her sons were determined to carry out the vendetta to avenge their father’s death, which was totally justified according to the norms of the time. St. Rita was terrified for her son’s and their sounds and so she turned to God begging God to change their hearts or no longer spare their lives. Both of her son’s died within a year of their father’s death, never avenging his death. St. Rita’s prayer not only spared the life of the murders, but she also pardoned and forgave Paulo’s murders.
What about Us?
My hope and prayer is that we do not find ourselves in a position where one of our loved ones is murdered out of a vendetta from a past wrong. Chances are more in our favor to find ourselves in a position where we have the choice to decide how we will respond to a smaller wrong done to us. This spiritual works of mercy challenges us to bear this wrong patiently, to not seek revenge, to not return hurt, and to not create more harm.
Where might we find this works of mercy applicable in our lives?
- A co-worker, family member or friend is notoriously late
- A colleague continuously misses deadlines
- A child needs to be reminded often about picking up their clothes, toys, or books
- A friend gossips about us
- A trusted friend or family member takes advantage of our relationship
- A teenager breaks our trust
- A loved one doesn’t call
If I am honest, I can think of a few times a day I am invited to apply this work of mercy in my life, and I can also think of some larger areas of hurt in my life, that this spiritual work of mercy is indeed needed. Whether big or small, I am being invited to be patient, to not fly off the handle in frustration, and to not create more hurt.
What helps us bear wrongs patiently?
- Naming our own wrongs: Like most works of mercy, naming our own need for mercy is vital. The reality is we make mistakes, we sometimes hurt people or grate on another’s nerves. Naming our own wrongs helps us soften our hearts towards others.
- Remembering when mercy was shown to us: We can reflect back on times in our life when we know we messed up and the person impacted by our mistake offered us patience instead of anger. Examples from my own life, my mother calmly helping me wipe up a spilled glass of milk instead of screaming or my boss patiently explaining to me a mistake I made in a way that respected the work I put in but also gently showed me where I messed up.
- Praying: Prayer not only grounds us in God’s love and mercy for us, but it also provides us an outlet to honestly express our frustrations, hurts, and wrongs done to us. God transforms these areas of our lives and guides us on what steps we are to take. Prayer helps us build patience also.
- Practice Pausing: Especially when I feel stressed or frazzled, I catch myself getting huffy or short with others. We can practice taking a pause before we reply or act. This allows us time to reflect on what’s happening, turn to God, and then with God’s help decide what we are being invited to do.
Where in your life this week do you want to apply the spiritual works of mercy, bear wrongs patiently?