Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- March 21
Saint Benedicta Cambiagio Frassinello,
Wife, Religious, and Foundress
(entered heaven this day in 1858)
Just because you sin once doesn´t mean you have to sin again. It´s understandable, though regrettable, that you had such a hard fall during spring break (if I were the kind of uncle who says "I told you so", I would say "I told you not to spend your spring break on self-indulgence and beach bumming; it would have been far better to go on the mission trip to Guatemala and help others instead of falling prey to temptation yourself" – but I´m not one of those uncles, so I won´t say "I told you so"). But does your fall change God? Does it change his love for you? Does it mean he no longer has a plan for your life? Does it mean that the talents he has given you are no longer valid? Hardly. Just as Christ fell down as he carried his cross to Calvary, and got up again, so too you need to brush yourself off, confess your sins, and step out once again with confidence in God. You need a new beginning. Today´s saint was an expert in beginnings. Maybe she can boost your determination a bit.
She had a deep mystical experience when she was 20 years old, and decided to consecrate herself completely to Christ – her first beginning. But her parents insisted on her marrying, and so she did – her second beginning. After two years, her husband Giovanni was so moved by her goodness that he agreed to live as spouses in perfect chastity, as brother and sister. Together they took care of Benedetta´s cancer-stricken little sister. That was the third beginning.
When the sister died, Giovanni and Benedetta each decided to offer their lives entirely to God by joining religious orders: he went to the Somaschi Fathers and she went to the Ursuline Sisters (fourth beginning). But she only stayed a year; she was forced to leave because of ill health. She went back home, was miraculously cured by St Julian Emiliani (you can see that God had other plans for her), and asked for the bishop´s permission to dedicate herself completely to the education of young girls. He gave her the green light, but she couldn´t find any help; even her father refused to assist her. So the bishop went to her husband (who was still doing his novitiate), and asked him to leave the Somaschi Fathers and come the aid of his wife in her new undertaking. He agreed. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the presence of the bishop, and then threw themselves into the education of girls, most of them poor and abandoned. They taught manners, homemaking skills, and solid Christian principles. Their goal was to form the girls into models of Christian life, thereby insuring the future formation of healthy families. It was a novel idea at the time, since girls as a rule received no formal education. That was the fifth beginning.
But she wasn´t done starting over. The novelty of her work earned her some enemies, and she had to hand it over to the bishop´s direct supervision. Then she and her husband relocated, and started from scratch, refining their techniques and approaches as they went along. She attracted other young women to join her efforts, and eventually formed the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence.
Admittedly, it wasn´t sin that made her start over. But even so, she certainly did have to start over – again and again. She can be a good patron for your spring semester, as you once again take to the road of responsibility, holiness, and joy. And while you´re at it, you can count on my prayers.
Your devoted uncle, Eddy
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