Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

LOVE: St. Scholastica, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2013

This weekend begins a sequence of important dates:

February 10, 2013 ~ Feast of St. Scholastica

February 12, 2013 ~ Mardi Gras

February 13, 2013 ~ Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2013 ~ Valentine’s Day


On February 10, 2006, the Feast Day of St. Scholastica, I first came here to St. Gertrude’s Monastery to meet the Benedictine Sisters. I believed that I had a vocation and I wanted to see if they felt that I did as well. I, then, took a year to work with a Spiritual Director to see if my spirituality warranted leaving the life of the laity and seeking a vocation in the Benedictine Monastic life. After a year of contemplation, I decided that I would come to St. Gertrude’s Monastery in Ridgely, Maryland to reside as a live-in volunteer whereby getting a taste of all of the ministries that would encompass the daily routine of monastic life. On November 16, 2008, I entered St. Gertrude’s Monastery as a postulant and I am not sorry that I did.


St. Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia who established his Rule along with forming a way of living monasticism in the Western part of the world. St. Scholastica consecrated her life to God as a child. After Benedict went to Monte Cassino, where he established his monastery, Scholastica established her convent in the neighborhood at Plombariola, where she founded and led a monastery of nuns, about five miles from Benedict’s abode.


Scholastica visited her brother once a year at a separate house as she was not allowed to enter his monastery. They spent their time together discussing spiritual matters. On one occasion, they talked until evening and Scholastica begged Benedict not to leave until the next day. Benedict refused to spend the night outside the monastery. Scholastica began to pray and a severe thunderstorm came out of nowhere which kept Benedict and his brothers from leaving. They spent the night in spiritual discussions and when Benedict left the next morning, he was never to see her again as three days later, Scholastica died and Benedict beheld her soul in a vision as it ascended into heaven in the form of a dove. He sent his brothers to bring her body to his monastery and laid it in a tomb he had prepared for himself. She died around the year 543. Benedict followed her soon after. Her memorial is 10 February. Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, convulsive children, and is invoked against storms and rain.


The Christian Religious Orders commemorative coin

She was recently selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 'The Christian Religious Orders', issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside Benedict.

MARDI GRAS:   (known as Fat Tuesday) is the day set aside to eat, drink and partake in all that we will not see for six weeks in preparation of Lent. It’s a tradition that comes from Medieval times when people would conceal themselves behind a mask and pretend to be another type of person and ride in parades on floats disguised.


ASH WEDNESDAY: commemorates a Roman Catholic ritual of having burnt palm branches, in the form of ashes, placed on our foreheads in the shape of a cross to show that we came from dust and we will return to dust when we die. Lent gives us an opportunity to turn our lives around, give up our sinful ways and have your soul prepared when faced with death so that you can face God.


VALENTINE’S DAY: gives us an opportunity to wear red symbolizing our hearts on the outside of our bodies. It has truly turned into a corporate marketing day: roses, candy, cards, diamonds, lockets, rings, love tokens, etc.

For those who connect this day with loving God and God loving us are truly spiritual. We have our love for God, we don’t need the tokens of affection…we have all that we need from the Father.



In summary, I believe that we have the “perfect storm of days” that will segue us into a beautiful season of Lent in having St. Scholastica lead the way by her example of consecrated living; that Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) will show us how extravagant life can be when not focused on God; Ash Wednesday will give us on our forehead the annual symbol of our mortality and Valentine’s Day will give us the word, “love” in the shape of a heart. When we think of Lent as well as the six week period of sacrifice, we forget the word “love.” Love is actually what makes Lent work for us and God. God, the Father brought his Son to Earth out of love to show us how to love. In turn, Jesus came in his humanity to show us how to live in love in everything that we do. The Holy Spirit was sent to put love into action. Mother Teresa tells us that “we cannot help the world but we can help one person at a time” and “we can’t do great things but we can do little things with great LOVE.”


The art at the top of the BLOG is called a “word cloud.” They are easy to make…just think of all of the words that pertain to a theme and write the words in a vertical, horizontal, large print, small print format until your “cloud” takes shape. This is a wonderful tool for writing poetry, keeping a journal, or just remembering a given event. This is an artful method of making your journal personal.


My Song du Jour this week is a song entitled, “They’ll know we are Christians by Our Love” by Catholic Priest Peter R. Scholtes in 1968. 


We are one in the Spirit,
we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit
we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity
may one day be restored:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

We will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
we will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
and together we'll spread the news
that God is in our land:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.


“That in all things God may be glorified”


Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB


ART: taken from

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