One of the saints celebrated today is another relative of mine, very distant of course! Her name is Saint Teresa of Portugal. She was married to her first cousin, King Alfonso IX of Leon and, after having several children, the church dissolved the marriage because their marriage was too close in blood relation (consanguinity.) It was common at one time for relatives to marry one another among nobility because, God forbid, one couldn't marry a commoner. Their world would fall in. Consequently, since I am descended from a bunch of royal lines, I am a cousin to myself a hundred times over, maybe more!
Teresa returned to her estate at Lorvao in Portugal and funded a monastery on her property. Later, she replaced the monks with 300 nuns following the Cistercian Rule. She lived with the nuns. At some point after settling a dispute about the inheritance of King Alfonso in Leon, she once again returned to Lorvao and it is thought that she officially became a nun.
Teresa's sister, Sanchia, was also sainted, and today is her feast day as well.
I have long wanted to start a convent geared toward disabled and elderly ladies, but that sort of thing requires a huge amount of funding. My sainted ancient ancestors were wealthy, most of them, or at least had quite a bit of land, and they had the freedom to donate it to the church and establish convents and monasteries for the glory of the church.
The great importance of prayer, whether intercessory prayer, glorification, or contemplative prayer in which one simply inclines the mind to God, cannot be underestimated, but I find that, even some very devout people don't see the sense of it and are not likely to support convents and monasteries. They seem to want to see some visible work on the part of all religious, but fail to realize that Martha AND Mary are necessary. I get the sense that some people are jealous of the peaceful, protected life of these monastics, despite their lack of mobility and choice about almost anything in their lives.
I have been thinking a lot about how King Henry VIII (a great uncle of mine), stole all the property of the Catholic Church and razed most of the monasteries and convents in England. What was said at the time was that the quality of the spiritual lives of the monks and nuns was not that good, there were "too many" monastics and that better use could be made of the land and the structures. It was a ruse, of course, a happy consequence of destroying the Catholic Church in England so Uncle Henry could finance his debaucheries and marry yet another woman. The entire raison d'etre for the Church of England was the advancement of sin by sin, and now look at it! Female priests and bishops and same-sex marriages on the horizon! What a legacy.
Why do I care if I am related to this saint or that saint? The thing is this: The saints are not dead, and if I am related to any of them, I like to add them to the people to whom I direct my requests for intercessory prayer. Hey...I need all the help I can get.
Today I talk to Teresa and Sancha of Portugal and ask for their inspiration and intercession.
God bless us all.
Silver Rose Parnell