Today, May 22 is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia. She is known as the patron Saint of impossible causes, abused wives, and widows. She could just as easily be a patron Saint of mothers who have lost their children to death since her two sons died of dysentery at a young age.
There is no mention of St. Rita ever having been depressed. This is pretty amazing considering her husband, whom she was forced to marry out of obedience to her parents, abused her, was unfaithful many times during their 18-year marriage, and then was murdered by members of an another family. Feuds between families were common at that time. What is equally amazing, especially because of the sociological norms of the time, is that St. Rita publicly forgave her husband’s murderers and bartered a peace between the two families.
Doubtless St. Rita grieved her husband and sons. There is also mention of her anxiety over the fate of her sons’ souls. But she did not become chronically depressed or anxious. Part of the reason for this is that not once did she allow herself to ruminate on her bad life. She pressed forward with positive purpose.
One of the ways we can resist depression and anxiety is by focusing on a cause, something greater than ourselves. For St. Rita there were many such causes during the course of her life. First there were prayers for the conversion of her husband along with a focus on raising her sons to be upright and faith-filled. After her husband’s death her focus was to protect of her sons from the temptation to exact revenge for her husband’s death. Then, her focus was to create peace between the warring families that caused her husband’s death. Living a contemplative life with Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene and providing spiritual counseling became her final focus.
There is much to reflect upon in the life of St. Rita of Cascia and so I have posted a link to her U.S. National Shrine for information.
St. Rita of Cascia, patron of impossible causes, pray for us!
Picture is public domain, found on Wikimedia.
This is a re-post from 2013