Today we celebrate the second-half – perhaps the better half but not the “better-half” of a pair of Peruvian Dominican saints: St. Rose (Rosa) of Lima.
Now, from a trivial and largely subjective point of view, St. Rosa is a personal favorite of mine. Not just because I am a closet Dominican (the subject of another post) but mostly because my daughter attends Girl Scout meetings at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on the North Side of Houston. More seriously, though, there is much to admire about St. Rosa and plenty of reason that, though the Episcopal Church lumps her with her fellow Peruvian, Martin De Porres, she should be remembered on her own day.
Rose was born into the family of a Spanish coloinialist and military officer in Lima, Peru in 1586. Though she very muich desired to enter the convent as a professed Dominican Sister, her father forbade it and she lived out her vocation as what is called a “tertiary” (non-vowed-lay-member) of the Dominican Order remaining in the house of her father.
Though this peculiar type of cloister (many nuns in the Dominican Order live lives of “cloister” or intentional seperation from the word, but not very many do so in the house of the Father), is not standard for Dominican Sisters, Rosa did not let it hinder either her ascetic practice nor her accomplishment as a “preacher” and model of faith. Through an extreme self-discipline of fasting and prayer, she became known as something of a spiritual giant not only among her fellow Liman dominicans but throughout the region. Folks began to seek her specific intercession when they were sick or otherwise imperiled and Rose would diligently pray, often affecting great change and healing in the lives of her friends and neighbors.
So, what can the witness of St. Rosa mean for those of us that live in contemporary times? Who don’t live in colonial Peru? Or in our father’s house (anymore)? I think that Rosa shows of the power of “grow where you are planted” thinking. God will make use of you wherever you are.
Now, I don’t mean to to say that we should always be accepting of our lot, necessarily. Working to change the arbitrary and unjust strictures placed on both St. Rose and St. Martin is Gospel work. But, both Martin and Rose show the way that the word and work of God is constantly out in front of us all. First demonstrating his presence among the least in society, then calling the rest of us to be there, too.
Sermon at Christ Church Cathedral: