"Get thee to a nunnery!" could be the theme of today's matchup between Eva Lee Matthews of the Community of the Transfiguration and Margaret of Castello of the Dominican Sisters. These faithful women meet in this sure-to-be hotly contested Saintly Sixteen battle.
Yesterday, in a serious rout, Brother Lawrence soundly defeated Margery Kempe 81% to 19% (insert joke about weeping and gnashing of teeth. Brother Lawrence becomes the third saint to reach the Elate Eight, joining Herman of Alaska and Joseph.
Eva Lee Matthews
Jordan B. Peterson described the Christian cross as representing the intersection in which suffering and transformation occur; not just the crossed beams on which Christ was hung. To be transfigured, means to be transformed. Jesus was transformed. Often when we look at the saints, they are transformed individuals. As the founder of the community of the Transfiguration, Mother Eva Lee Matthews knows of transformation. Eva Lee transformed from a wealthy, young debutante into a servant of God. As a servant of God, by works, deeds, action and prayer, she then transformed others who were poor, disenfranchised, and neglected. Mother Eva Lee said, “The vision of the King is his beauty is given that the light may shine through us and guide others to know, love, and glorify him.” Eva Lee knew that to be transformed and to transform others was to share the light of God. This is the sort of transformation that awaits us all when we take up God’s calling in our lives.
One of Mother Eva Lee’s contributions to the transformation of others was The Bethany Home. Mother Eva Lee said, “A home in the cool green country…such an institution is Bethany Home.” There, individuals were nurtured in their own transformation to see the light of God in themselves and those around them.
The Community of the Transfiguration continues today. The sisters continue to shine God’s light, glorify God, and guide others to God in an active realization of Mother Eva Lee’s vision. They established the Transfiguration Spirituality Center where “the Community of the Transfiguration and the world come together, enriching each other in a spirit of kindness, simplicity and joy. All are welcome, in the name of Christ, to a peaceful place apart for time to rest, reflect and pray.”
If you want to see this light, check out these real live/living saints. Their beautiful, joy-filled faces will also make you feel transformed in your day (the are ALL smiling—their joy is palpable): View here.
As you think of your own transformation this Lent, smile, and share it with others.
A collect for Eval Lee Matthews: O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant Eva Lee Matthews, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Retrieved from the Episcopal Church's website.
Margaret of Castello
Margaret of Castello was born sometime in 1287, and died on April 12, 1320. She was born blind, with severe scoliosis, and also with dwarfism. Her parents considered her condition a punishment from God, and a familial shame, and so they proclaimed her dead, and sealed her up in a back room of the castle. (Their family name means “of the castle”—her father, Parisio, kept the castle garrison in Perugia.) However, a maid snuck in to make sure she was fed, and the maid named her Margaret. The maid also snuck in the priest, who taught Margaret literacy, and her prayers.
After her parents abandoned the 13-year-old Margaret on the streets of Castello, she found a temporary home in a convent. However, Margaret was more devout than the nuns. They became jealous, and soon kicked her back on the streets, where she again got by through caring for the children of the workers, and teaching them psalms and prayers. (As a sidenote: blind people are very able to care for children. “Watching children” is a metaphor in Margaret’s case.)
When she met some traveling Dominican friars, she demanded to be inducted into their order, and was granted admission to the third order of St. Dominic. This came in handy one night, when the house where she was staying caught fire, and the family became concerned that Margaret, alone in the attic, wouldn’t be able to evacuate in time. “Never fear” called Margaret from above, and she calmly extinguished the fire with her holy habit, saving herself and the house. She also visited the sick, attended prisoners and comforted the dying. While at prayer, observers said she would hover several feet off the ground.
For the faithful who deal with disability in their daily life, Margaret is a special source of inspiration. Robert Orsi writes, in an article about Catholic attitudes towards suffering, that his Uncle Sal, who had cerebral palsy in the 1960s and attended mass daily, had a special fondness for Margaret. Sal tells him about his friends who were hidden away in institutions and back rooms, by families who were ashamed of them and what they represented. “‘You know what I like about [Margaret]?’ my uncle asked me at the end of the story. ‘I like it that there’s somebody up there’—he glanced heavenwards—‘like us.’ He was smiling.”
Image credit: http://anglicanhistory.org/women/evamary/pictures.html