Because I declared 2014 The Year of the Saints, I thought about who we singles could look to during the often-contentious Month of Valentinus. There are a plethora of other saints to consider during February.
I find it helpful to view the lives of the saints as inspiration, a model for living as a flawed, fallible person who deals with the very difficult aspects of the human condition.
One such saint to consider this month is St. Margaret of Cortona. She is the patron saint of single mothers, step children, and the falsely accused, to name a few. I thought these were interesting things to consider in light of some of the hardships many single Catholics may be faced with.
One issue that crops up often in the search for a spouse is the potential partner’s past. A checkered past is often a deal breaker for many, particularly if one had been falsely accused of something. As Catholics, we are called to approach others in the spirit of charity and generosity, as well as forgiveness. We could try giving others the benefit of the doubt, or forgiving the accusers. But for those of us who’d been burned in the past and had our trust violated are often unable to look past an accusation that’s been pinned to someone we might be interested in.
And for those of us who’ve has a less-than-perfect past, or been falsely accused, the search becomes even more challenging.
Another such challenge regarding the past is parenthood. Many marriage-minded singles are wary of joining a ready-made family. The responsibilities are many, and being put into the role of an authority figure may be completely unknown territory. But once again, this is something that may require a bit more prayer and contemplation in order to see the situation in a new light.
St. Margaret of Cortona is certainly one who can provide us with a bit of guidance. As a child, she became part of a ready-made family when her widowed father married again. She was faced with a hardship that many children experience: rejection from her step-parent. Also like many young adults, she became a runaway and an unwed mother. When her son was 9-years-old, his father was murdered. Having no support anymore, she went back home, but this time it was her father who rejected her.
She sought—and found—refuge in the Church, eventually becoming a Franciscan. But her troubles didn’t end there. She lived under false accusations of being promiscuous, and of having a relationship with a clergyman.
Here we can see how much guidance she could provide those of us who have—or know someone who has—these kinds of troubles. St. Margaret of Cortona certainly had the kinds of hardships that many of us face; and often we feel alone in facing those challenges. In her, we can find inspiration and motivation to carry on in the face of adversity, and of course, to look to the Church for refuge, comfort, redemption, support and spiritual development.