I have twin daughters. What a delight (after the first three blurred years) it has been watching them grow up together, becoming their own persons, yet remaining so close.
Today, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict. Born into a wealthy family in Italy around AD 480, the twins were close growing up until Benedict left their home for his formal education in Rome.
Benedict’s piety and love of the Lord (and reputations for preforming miracles) gained him a following. He established a monastery at Monte Cassino and a rule of law by which the men were to live as monks dedicated to prayer and work for the glory of God.
In time (perhaps after her parents had passed), Scholastica established a convent at the base of Monte Cassino about five miles away from her brother’s monastery. A few other consecrated virgins lived with her there under the Rule of Saint Benedict; thus, Saint Scholastica is credited with being the foundress of Benedictine nuns.
The most common story about these two saintly siblings demonstrates their love for one another. Once a year, Scholastica and Benedict would meet at a farmhouse between their abbeys to talk and pray together. Scholastica was said to have relished these visits, finding them uplifting and encouraging. She loved spending time with her brother.
On one such occasion, when Benedict declared it was time for him to make the trek back up the hill, Scholastica begged him to stay. Not wanting to break his own rule, the monk insisted he had to leave. In response to her brother’s rejection, she folded her hands and bowed her head in prayer. Immediately, a terrible thunderstorm came upon them, and Benedict was unable to leave.
I love her response to her brother’s outcry. When he asked, “What have you done?”, Scholastica simply replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; I asked God and He did listen.” I find encouragement in her trust in God to answer her prayer even when her request had been denied by Benedict. Saint Scholastica knew where to seek an appeal. She trusted in God’s goodness and generosity.
Three days later, Benedict saw from his cell (bedroom) window, a shining white dove ascending to heaven. He knew immediately that it was the soul of his sister. The monk had Scholastica’s body brought to his monastery, where he laid it in the tomb that was originally intended for his own burial one day.
That day came less than two months later, when our Lord, probably once again at Scholastica’s request, allowed the two to spend, not just some time, but all eternity together. Their love for one another was a reflection of their love for God.
February is the month of love. Saint Valentine gets all the credit for that. On or around his feast day, we show our love in an extra special way to our spouses. We may even share a little token of our love with our children, too. Mine love receiving little boxes of candy or fun socks.
I propose that we let Saint Scholastica, also, help us show the love – not to our spouses and children this time, but our siblings. Perhaps, tomorrow, on her feast day, reach out to your siblings. Send a text or a card and let them know how much you love them. Make a date for lunch. Or share one of your fondest memories of them over the phone.
Believe or not, one of the most precious gifts God has ever given us is our siblings. Having another child in the family taught us selflessness, cooperation, and empathy. Growing up, we probably spent more time with siblings than even best friends. A brother or sister may be the keeper of our deepest secrets. Siblings are the gifts given to us by our parents that last for life. So, today, on the feast day of Saint Scholastica, let us honor and show a little love for our brothers and sisters.