In late November we celebrated the Feast of St. Andrew. You may recall one of the points was that although Andrew was always devout and faithful, having accomplished great work in India, he was still always in the shadow of his older brother, Peter. Our Saint for today, Scholastica, has a similar problem. Her twin brother is none other than St. Benedict.
They grew up in Umbria, a region of Italy north of Rome, and were from a wealthy family. Their life together ended when Benedict was old enough to leave home and went to study in Rome. As a person of society, Scholastica had the option to marry or to join a religious order. As she had been dedicated to God from a very young age, she chose the latter, and following her father’s death, moved so that she could be closer to her brother, whom she loved dearly. Once settled, she formed the first women’s order of Benedictine monasticism.
On a few occasions each year, she would travel from her house to the monastery and visit her brother. They would meet in a home that was owned by the monastery, but was a distance away. Once there, they would spend time visiting, worshiping, and sharing stories of the greatness of God.
During one such visit, they were having such a delightful time, that when evening came and following supper Benedict made to leave, but Scholastica begged him to stay. However, Benedict would not spend a night outside of the walls of the monastery. At that point, St. Gregory the Great who recorded these events, wrote, “At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, hearing this denial of her brother, joined her hands together, laid them on the table, bowed her head on her hands, and prayed to almighty God. Lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain” that Benedict could not even put his head outside the door. In the “very same instant that she lifted up her head, she brought down the rain.” When Benedict asked her what she had done, she responded, “I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me; I have desired it of our Good Lord, and he has granted my petition. Therefore if you can now depart, in God’s name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone.” Clearly he could not, so they spent the night together worshiping God and in deep spiritual talk.
Gregory concluded his story, “Is it not a thing to be marveled at, that a woman, who for a long time had not seen her brother, might do more in that instance than he could? She realized according to the saying of St. John, “God is charity”. Therefore, as is right, she who loved more, did more.”
Benedict desired to return to his monastery, but Scholastica loved her brother and desired to be with him, so much so, that through her prayers it rained so heavily that he could not leave. Scholastica died three days later on February 10 in the year 547.
I read those words of Gregory’s and was reminded of another time that it rained out of love, but not just water. “When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” (John 19:33-34) Out of love for us, out of mercy, out of a great desire for us to be with him, God made it rain – water and his own blood – so that we might be restored to him.
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” (cf. Luke 10:37) Question: Who would you make it rain for?