A second woman's voice replied, "I know. I wonder how she does
"Me, too," said the first voice. "I think it would be an
As I walked to the door with my bag of coffee, the two women
walked ahead of me, taking their coffees and their conversation to a
nearby car. I got in my own car thinking about saints, those
creatures whose goodness and virtue stand so very far above my own.
Many of us, I suspect, would like to be saints. Like speaking a
foreign language, running a marathon or losing 10 pounds, it would be
nice -- but, oh the work of doing it.
A couple of week's ago while I talked on the phone with my sister
Tammy, she asked if I had heard of a saint named Rita, the patron
saint, my sister said, of impossible cases. I confessed that I
hadn't. My sister had come across Rita in a movie, a G-rated film
called "The Rookie." It's a baseball story, a true story with a
couple of miracles attributed to the intercessory prayers of St.
Rita. We talked a bit about the mysteries of prayer. Are the prayers
of some better than the prayers of others? Does God listen to some
people more than he listens to others? Does he answer them more
often, more quickly? How many prayers does it take? We talked about
how prayers are sometimes answered in ways we may not like, in ways
it seems we did not ask for -- in ways, even, that may be hard to
take -- not always in the obviously happy ways of movie miracles.
I tried to think of an example but, in that moment, I couldn't. I
found one later reading about Rita Lotti, St. Rita of Cascia.
Rita was born in Italy in 1386, a time of deadly political feuds
and rivalries. Her husband, Paolo, was murdered by his political
enemies. Rita tried hard to dissuade her young twin sons from
avenging their father's death. She prayed that God would hold her
sons back from committing such murders. Both sons died within the
year and Rita was left widowed and childless.
It's the kind of answer to prayer that a saint might be prepared
to take, but it could throw many of us for a loop. It's the kind of
answer to prayer that, could we see foresee it, might encourage us
not to pray.
It tells us what saints know and cherish: God works in mysterious
"'My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,'
says the Lord, 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my
ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,'"
wrote the prophet Isaiah in chapter 55, verse 8.
Great saints do not chafe at the idea; they rest in it.
In hymn 124, we sing of them: "They all in life and death, with
thee their Lord in view, learned from thy Holy Spirit's breath to
suffer and to do. Jesus, thy Name we bless, and humbly pray that we
may follow them in holiness, who lived and died for thee."
I ask their prayers and try to follow. I wonder how they do it.
* MICHELE MARR is a freelance writer from Huntington Beach. She
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.