A Holy Abbess
The Benedictine–Cistercian calendar commemorates today Saint Franca of Piacenza, virgin (1173–1218). Franca was an intrepid monastic reformer. After enduring sufferings and persecutions as abbess of the Benedictines of San Siro, she became abbess of the Cistercian monastery of Plectoli, ruling her monastic family with maternal love. Franca was accustomed to spending entire nights in prayer to God in the oratory of the monastery. She died on the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, 25 April 1218.
The Collect of the Day
Only recently did I discover the beauty of the Collect given for the feast of Saint Franca. I don’t how it escaped my notice until now.
Tua nos, omnipotens Deus, protectione custodi,
et castimoniae pacem mentibus nostris atque corporibus,
intercedente beata Francha virgine tua, propitiatus indulge,
ut veniente sponso Filio tuo Unigenito,
accensis lampadibus, eius digne praestolemur occursum.
Here is my translation:
Keep us safe, almighty God, by thy protection
and through the intercession of Saint Franca, virgin,
grant to our minds and to our bodies
the peace of a life that is chaste,
so that at the advent of the Bridegroom,
thine only–begotten Son,
we may hasten forth to meet Him
with lighted lamps.
Chastity Produces Serenity
The Collect makes us ask, “for mind and body the peace of a life that is chaste.” One might also translate the phrase as “for mind and body the peace that comes from living chastely.” Serenity, or peace of mind and body, is one of the benefits of chastity.
That Terrible Itch
Those who have lived in unchastity — I am thinking, in particular, of Saint Augustine these days, but one might also allude to Mary of Egypt, to Charles de Foucauld, and to Julien Green — know the “itch” of restlessness that torments the mind and body. If you would know peace of mind and body, be chaste.
The Chaste Person: An Instrument of Peace
Rarely in our culture is chastity presented as a positive virtue. It is almost always mocked or disdained as the appanage of the inhibited personality when, in fact, the chaste person is wonderfully free and, therefore, at peace in mind and in body. Serenity is a fruit of chastity. The chaste person becomes an instrument of peace at home, in the Church, and in society. The unchaste person sows trouble wherever he goes. How many readers of Vultus Christi have seen those bumperstickers in the U.S. that read, No peace without justice? Wouldn’t it be splendidly subversive to have them read No peace without chastity?