When Saint Rita asked for a thorn from Christ’s crown she was probably thinking of secret suffering. Did she know how much the wound would stink? And how unpopular that would make her with her sisters?
God is the mover, not the moved
Saint Rita is a good example of how we can’t second guess God. She was a good Christian woman who wanted to become a nun but her elderly parents were afraid she might change her mind and leave the convent. And what would happen to her if they were already dead? So they chose a husband for her. As it turned out they didn’t choose very well but Rita accepted it all and was a good wife to her bad husband.
When her husband was killed in a vendetta, Saint Rita even asked God that her sons should die rather than commit murder and continue the vendetta. God accepted her prayer and her sons died of illness. She chose their eternal life over their earthly life. She was willing to accept a mother’s grief for the sake of her sons’ souls.
Surely this good Christian had earned her reward? She was at last free to enter the convent. She asked to enter. They said no.
Rita was eventually allowed to enter, but she shows us that God is the mover, not the moved. It is not that if we follow all the rules we will get exactly what we expect and want. God is in charge and he has other things to show us along the way.
The wound that wouldn’t heal
So back to the thorn. Rita asked to share in the sufferings of Christ and for a thorn from his crown to enter her forehead. It was given to her but along with that was a maggot infested, stinking wound that didn’t heal.
There was no chance that she could use her suffering to make herself feel spiritual or good when everyone else found her disgusting. So she had the suffering she had asked for and the suffering she hadn’t.
She accepted both.
She entered even more deeply into her life with Christ. The only thing she asked was to be able to go to Rome for the Jubilee along with her sisters. The sisters weren’t too keen and the superior said no, as she would be shocking to the public.
But, suddenly, her wound healed and she was able to go. However, as soon as they returned to the convent, it re-opened and only healed on Rita’s death.
So God will accept our offers – and then some – but there is no room for smugness.