Pastor Letter | May 2nd
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Dear St. Joseph Parish Family,
Pope Francis recently canonized
St. Margaret of Castello
, a new Dominican saint. Canonization means that she is added to the list, or ‘canon,’ of saints, and she is now referred to as ‘Saint’ instead of ‘Blessed.’ Underneath all the terminology, canonization means that the Church formally declares that the canonized person is in heaven, that her life was holy and worthy of imitation, and that prayers across the Church can be officially made to her (prayers for intercession, not of adoration, which is proper only to God).
St. Margaret of Castello’s life is important for us today. First, her life demonstrates the dignity and value of all human lives. She was born severely deformed: she had a severely curved spine that prevented her from walking, a withered arm, her legs were not the same length, and she had a form of dwarfism. Despite her physical challenges she attained great holiness and lived a life worthy of the highest admiration. God’s grace shone through her in great works of charity. Her witness demonstrates that God loves every person and, despite the challenges we face, God’s love can transform us and make us emissaries of His divine love. No life is worthless or to be discarded but instead, every one of us is beloved by God.
Second, St. Margaret exemplifies how to respond to the cruelties of this world – how God can transform suffering into great holiness. Beyond St. Margaret of Castello’s physical difficulties, the abuse she faced from her own family was just as bad. Her family was of minor nobility in Italy in the 13th to 14th centuries. They were ashamed of her disabilities and hid her. They told everyone that she died in childbirth and, when she was around 6 years old, they locked her in a room to hide her. They fed her under the door and had a priest catechize her and bring her communion, but otherwise, she was locked off from the world. When she was 15 her family took her to a church in Castello where miracles were happening, hoping she would be miraculously healed. When she was not healed her family abandoned her at the church. She was forced to become a beggar on the streets. However, the local community at Castello helped her survive.
Eventually, she became a 3rd Order Dominican, a type of lay Dominican. She wore a habit and lived a holy life. She performed great works of charity and taught the faith to children. She died at 33 years of age, and to honor her she was buried inside the local church, an honor usually only given to nobles.
St. Margaret faced great abuse and evil from her own family, in addition to all her physical sufferings. It would be understandable if she became overwhelmed by resentment and anger. Today we see many people responding to the evils of the world in that way. However, resentment and anger consume us from within. They rob us of inner freedom and prevent spiritual growth and healing. And they cut us off from God – we cannot hear Him calling us over loud cries of anger and we can’t feel His approach through burning resentment.
St. Margaret shows us a different way. She did not succumb to hatred and anger and resentment but rather allowed Christ to console and heal her spiritually. She did not allow the evil she suffered to turn her towards evil, but became a spring of charity, ending instead of extending the reign of evil in her early life. She thus shows God’s ability to overcome evil with love, to overcome suffering with grace, and to transform every soul who turns to Him into a true child of God.
Whatever difficulties we face or have faced, let us follow St. Margaret’s example. Our lives have great meaning because we are beloved by God, and He is waiting to transform everything in our lives, even the evil we suffer, into a spring of charity and grace.
St. Margaret, pray for us!
PS: For more information about St. Margaret of Castello, see
on Sunday, May 2 at 8:00AM