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Homily: On the Feast of St. Scholastica.

By the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz

Photo Credit: Click the picture to be taken to the site.

‘God is our whole support, God is our whole love. God is our whole life.’

You, dear Sisters, will recognize these words as those which conclude the commentary on each of the monastic vows in the Rule of Life by which your community is ordered. In their simplicity they are fulsome for all whose hearts sing,

“Take my life, and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

‘God is our whole support, God is our whole love, God is our whole life.’

These words are so fitting as we commemorate the consecrated life of St. Scholastica.

Born in 480, the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia, she was devout from a very young age. She would be the first Benedictine Sister and establish a community of women in Plombariola not far from Benedict’s Community in Monte Cassino.

History records that once a year they would meet, at neither of their houses but somewhere in between. They would discuss sacred texts and life consecrated to God.

The story of their last visit is this. They had enjoyed a good day together. As night came she asked her brother to stay longer so that they might talk about the joys of heaven. He refused saying he had to return to his cell at the monastery. Saddened by his response she prayed for rain, heavy rain, torrential rain! And rain it did through a violent thunder and lightening storm. Benedict asked her “What have you done?” And she said “I asked you to stay and you would not listen so I prayed to God and he did. So now, go off if you can and return to your monastery.” He could not go … and so they did spend the night talking about the joys of heaven.  Three days later Scholastica died and Benedict buried her in a tomb he had prepared for himself.
She is remembered as a Saint in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican Traditions.

For her commemoration the Church has appointed a text from the Gospel according to Luke in which Jesus speaks of the demands of discipleship. The demands call us to consider what we leave behind and what we embrace. They call us to generous and sacrificial living. Reflecting on the nature of discipleship, Paul speaks of pressing on and striving toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14) Your Rule speaks of ‘life-long conversion and growth in union with God, through a life of prayer and the undivided service of Jesus Christ.” Elsewhere one reads of ‘ a continual movement toward the fulfilment of our calling in Christ.’ I take that to mean as individuals and the community as a whole.

Today’s Reading from Philippians is that oh so well known text “Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus”.(2:5) Then Paul goes on to speak of Christ’s own poverty, chastity and obedience; his servant ministry; and the wonders of his incarnation, death and resurrection. Beyond those lovely words are these: “…it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(2:13) What wonderful words to hear at the very outset of the 140th anniversary of the founding of this Community. Looking back we give thanks for all the many ways God has been at work through the ministries of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine – in lifting the life of the Church and the World heavenward every day; in nursing and caring for the elderly; in teaching, spiritual writing and composition of sacred music;  in pastoral care at St. John’s Rehab Hospital;  in monastic hospitality offered with all the courtesy of love in Christ; and in accompanying hundreds of women and men in their journeys of faith, offering them counsel, encouragement, and hope.

We give thanks for the many ways God continues to work in and through each member of the Community in this present generation of Sisters, Oblates, Associates, and Companions.

Looking even now to the horizon of the 150th anniversary of the Community you have a Visitation in June. What better way to keep anniversary than to take time to discern how God may be at work in you for years to come – for his good pleasure and for the blessing of so many who look to you with love and respect for your lives of consecrated and undivided service to Christ.

Ten years ago you celebrated “A Journey Just Begun”. Now you contemplate the continuing of that journey – inward, upward, outward, and onward! (482, Common Praise)

May God bless you with a courageous openness to The Holy Spirit, to her leading, hoverings and restings upon you. And may you be blessed in embracing afresh those words that shape your life together.

‘God is our whole support. God is our whole love. God is our whole life.’  Amen