Single Catholics are a widely varied crowd. We span across a wide range of ages and relationship statuses. One group of members that often gets overlooked are our widows and widowers.
These members are a unique and special group. Having sustained a loss of the most painful type, they are strong and resilient. They already understand the joys and challenges of marriage, and they have a level of maturity and poise that others may not. Yet they are sometimes overlooked as eligible singles. Not sure why, as they are free to marry again in the Church. Perhaps never-marrieds are intimidated. Maybe some feel there is too much of a burden in trying to fill a dearly departed’s shoes. Whatever the reasons, I think widows and widowers have a lot to offer.
She was born to a family of prominent and wealthy Moors, and her father was a practicing Muslim. However, she lived in secrecy with her mother, an Abbess in a convent after her two brothers, Sts. Adolphus and John, were martyred.
She left the convent and married. However, soon after her husband died, she returned to the convent, converted fully and took the veil. As a widow, she dedicated her life to the Church, much to the ire of her family. In fact, when they discovered her in the convent, they brought her to a judge for practicing Christianity. She was forced to renounce her faith. But her dedication was too strong, and she soon returned to the convent. Upon the second discovery by her family, she was martyred.
There is a lot we can learn from St. Aurea’s life. First, she understood her marital status not as a loss, but an opportunity. She immediately fled to the church as a newly-widowed woman. From here we can see that along with her mourning and suffering, she chose to channel her energies into a positive outlet: her faith. We can learn from this whenever we experience a loss of any kind—be it the death of a spouse, parent, child or pet. Who better to turn to in the darkness of mourning but our Heavenly Father?
There is no question that widows and widowers have an extremely difficult time, filled with suffering and devastating loss. Just as St. Aurea chose to immerse herself in her faith, widowers and widows can immerse themselves in a community of the faithful for camaraderie, friendship, prayer, encouragement and yes, even love. In St. Aurea we can find the strength, resiliency and fortitude to remember and move forward with our lives.
Another thing that we can learn from her life is her commitment to her faith. Yes, she renounced her Christianity in front of a judge, but imagine the pressure she was under. With a death threat hanging over her, it is understandable that she renounced her faith. But she soon returned. And that is what matters.
One experience many widows and widowers may have is in questioning their faith. How could God take away the love of their lives? Why does God want so much loss and suffering? Many may find themselves tempted to renounce their faith upon finding no answers to such impossible questions. Yet, like St. Aurea, there is always the chance to return. The Church is always waiting with open arms for the repentant, and for those who questioned their faith and found solace in coming back.
St. Aurea’s feast day is July 19. On that day, remember all those who have lost their beloveds but remained immersed in their faith. God bless you all!