Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ode to St. Rose

I'm a few days late, but allow me to give you a little information about one of my favorite saints in the Catholic Church, St. Rose of Lima, whose feast day was celebrated last Tuesday!
Who was St. Rose of Lima?
Living towards the end of the 16th century and early 17th century in Lima, Peru, Rose, from a young age was a saint that most of us just scratch our heads and say, "What?"  She modeled St. Catherine of Siena by praying almost constantly, abstaining from meat, fasting three days a week, giving herself harsh penances, etc.  She wanted to take a vow of virginity, but was very beautiful and her parents wanted her to marry.  Eventually, she was granted her own section of the house by her father so she could live as a recluse.  She became a Third Order Dominican because her father forbade her in becoming a nun.  She performed awesome acts of charity, had intervals of ecstasy, saw the Infant Jesus at times, and prophesied her own date of her death. She lived to be 31.

Why is Erica in love?
The coolest story of St. Rose of Lima that attracted me when I was picking a confirmation saint name at the age of 14, was that Rose put lye and pepper on her face when she was young to disfigure her face and deter suitors away from her. (since she did not want to marry)  In the words of my 4th graders, "Then those guys didn't love her really anyway."  Great point.

It's interesting that I love St. Rose so much that I even took her again as a patron saint for a retreat I took in college and her influence has stuck since.  But why?  This woman is NOTHING like me.  It's hard enough for me to not eat second helpings, let alone fast.  My idea of a perfect night would be line dancing while hers would probably be adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  For goodness sakes, she died at 31---I'm four years away from 31!  And detering attention from guys?  That just sounds stupid.

It is PRECISELY because of these differences that I think St. Rose is so amazing. When I read that story of her disfiguring her face because she loved Him so much and only needed Him, I recognized in this saint a faith that I did not have.  She's not just inspiring in a sense of admiration that is distant.  She lived in this world...dealt with things I deal with and STILL chose Him first, above all.

I'm grateful to my Catholic Church for giving me such awesome saints to show me that it is possible to live this way. I might not be whipping myself any time soon, but her life makes me strive to discover and pray for an ever greater certainty of God's power and mercy in my life.  I feel like St. Rose is saying to me, "Don't worry.  God's got your back," and through her intercession, may I live a life worthy of His call.