Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Scholastica, who is known as the sister of Saint Benedict. Some traditions speak of them as twins. Pope Saint Gregory the Great tells us that Benedict ruled over both monks and nuns, and it seems as if Saint Scholastica was the prioress of the nuns.
So what we know about Saint Scholastica is what we have from Saint Gregory, and his account tells us of a spiritual kinship between she and Benedict that was extremely close. They would often meet together, but could never do so in their respective cloisters, so each would travel with some of their confreres and meet at a house on the property of the monastery. On one such occasion, the last of these meetings together, they were speaking as they often did of the glories of God and the promise of heaven. Perhaps knowing that she would not have this opportunity again, Scholastica begged her brother not to leave but to spend the night in this spiritual conversation. Benedict did not like the idea of being outside his monastery for the night, and initially refused. With that, Saint Scholastica laid her head on her hands and asked God to intercede. Just as she finished her prayer, a very violent storm arose, preventing Benedict’s return to the monastery. He said: “God forgive you, sister; what have you done?” She replied, “I asked a favor of you and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it.”
Three days later, Saint Scholastica died. Saint Benedict was alone at the time, and had a vision of his sister’s soul ascending to heaven as a dove. He announced her death to his brethren and then gave praise for her great happiness. Just like Saint Scholastica, we are called to spend our days and nights in contemplation of our Lord and discussing his greatness with our brothers and sisters. We don’t often do that, though, do we? What a pleasant change that would be from some of the conversations we have!
Saint Scholastica had a very close relationship with her brother, but also a very close relationship with her Lord, who granted her prayer because of her faith. As Lent approaches next week, this would be a good time to re-examine our relationships, both with our brothers and sisters, but also with our Lord. What is it that we need to do during Lent that would strengthen these relationships and bring us into fuller communion with Christ?