Discussion Post for THE LIFE OF BLESSED MARGARET OF CASTELLO, Chapters 7 and 8

Audio recording of this post:

In Chapter 7, Father Bonniwell describes the decision of Parisio and Emilia to take Margaret to the shrine at the Franciscan church in Castello in search of her cure. We learn more about Parisio and Emilia’s motivations and begin to suspect that their abandonment of Margaret, which we read about in Chapter 8, was (at least by Parisio) a premeditated choice.

Father Bonniwell takes a couple paragraphs to describe the difficulty of their journey through the mountains as well as the beauty of the terrain through which they traveled. According to my Google-maps search, the trip from Mercatello to Castello would now take 1 hour and 9 minutes by car. It must have taken much longer on horseback over the more primitive roads that Fr. Bonniwell describes. Of course Margaret did not see the Apennine Mountains or the city of Castello during that journey. But Father Bonniwell calls our attention to these views and it might be helpful to look at a couple photographs.

The Apennine Mountains
Cita di Castello

At the end of Chapter 7, Parisio tells Margaret how he wants her to pray. In Chapter 8, we get a description of how Parisio and Emilia thought about Margaret’s prayer and of how Margaret actually did pray. I think the comparisons are instructive. Here are the relevant quotations:

“I want you, my dear child,” continued Parisio, “to pray tonight and tomorrow morning with your whole heart and soul for a complete cure. You will obey me in this matter, won’t you, Margaret?”

Page 34

“You and I, Emilia, come from the two best families of our Republic. It isn’t every day that people of the highest nobility visit the shrine! If God listens to persons of mean extraction, it is certain the He will listen to us!”

“That is true,” cried Emilia. “I hadn’t thought of that!”

Page 35

In obedience to her parents’ commands, Margaret had at once addressed herself to God, begging Him to cure her of her various deformities. But she laid down one condition for her cure:

“Grant me these favors, I implore Thee, dearest God, but only provided my cure is in accordance with Thy will. If Thou dost desire me to bear these burdens until death, I am content to do so. I ask only that Thy will be done.”

Pages 37-38

Margaret persevered. And throughout her lengthy prayers there continued to run one refrain: “I ask this favor only if it is accordance with Thy will.”

Page 38

Margaret did obey her father in asking God for a cure. But her prayer, and the understanding of God on which her prayer was based, is strikingly different from her father’s suppositions about what prayers is and who God is. To Parisio, prayer is a request to God for benefits deserved. Parisio and Emilia are deserving petitioners so God should give them what they want. For Margaret, prayer is a request to God for the benefits God wills for her. Margaret does ask God for the cure that she and her father both want. But what Margaret wants is, above all, what God wants. Margaret comes to God as a wise and loving father, trusting that God’s will for her is better that what she could will for herself. Parisio thinks of God as a debtor who ought to give him what he deserves.

I suspect that Margaret’s prayer reminds many of you of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus is praying for a good thing: relief from suffering and avoidance of death. What the human Jesus naturally and rightly wants is good and it is a good thing to pray for. At the same time, Jesus knows that what his Father wants for him is for the best, and he prays for that most of all: “yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

But if something is God’s will, it cannot fail to happen, right? And if it cannot fail to happen, what’s the use of praying for it? Saint Thomas Aquinas, who is Saint Margaret of Castello’s big brother in the Dominican Order (and I do mean big), gives us the answer. It is true, he says, that what God ordains unfailingly comes to pass. However, God can ordain that one thing happen by means of another thing. (If you want to go deeper into Saint Thomas’ reasoning, see Summa Theologiae Part I, Question 23, Article 8: Whether predestination can be furthered by the prayers of the saints?) In our present case, it seems that God ordained Margaret’s sanctification by means of Margaret’s bearing the burdens of her deformities. The cure that both Margaret and her father wanted from God would have been a natural good and it was a good thing to pray for. But Margaret, unlike her human father, also wanted and prayed for the supernatural good that was inestimably better and which only her Heavenly Father knew how to bestow.


Questions:

  1. I didn’t write much about Parisio and Emilia’s decision making as it is described in Chapter 7. Since they won’t be part of our story from here on out, it might be instructive to consider their last wicked choice, their abandonment of Margaret. It seems to me that Parisio makes that choice our of selfish calculation, whereas Emilia makes it more from selfish weakness. Is there a real difference there? If so, what is it?
  2. I think the title of Chapter 8, “Margaret is Given her Freedom,” is fascinating. It invites us to think of Margaret’s abandonment in Castello in a different way. In this Chapter, Father Bonniwell focuses on the newly abandoned Margaret’s deprivation and fear. But the title he gives to Chapter 8 describes her abandonment as a liberation. What do you think about that?

Please share your thoughts in the “Comment” section below. Feel free to respond to the questions I posed above or to reflect upon anything else in this week’s reading, my reflections on this weeks reading, and/or comments that other people have posted.

14 thoughts on “Discussion Post for THE LIFE OF BLESSED MARGARET OF CASTELLO, Chapters 7 and 8”

  1. Thank you all for your comments! I find your thoughts about the chapter title, “Margaret Receives her Freedom,” especially enlightening. On a very basic level, Margaret received her freedom in the same way that her parents did. She was no longer encumbered by them just as they were no longer encumbered by her. But Margaret was already free in way her parents were not. She was free to love, and nothing prevented her from doing what she most truly wanted to do, which was to share in God’s love. Her parents were not free. They wanted more and more for themselves and were continually impeded from satisfying their selfish pursuits. But in a deeper sense, Margaret, though she was already free in a way her parents were not, does gain her freedom when she is abandoned. She is issued a fresh invitation to be close to God in her suffering and therefore to love God more and live in the freedom of God’s love.

    1. I have written a brief short story about Saint Margaret of Castello. It is difficult to obtain information about her. Could you please read what I have written and tell me if it is satisfactory. Thank you, Sandro Francisco Piedrahita.
      God Is Enough
      By Sandro F. Piedrahita
      “When we have nothing left but God,
      we discover that God is enough.”
      Darlene Schacht

      I have been praying at the shrine to Franciscan tertiary Fra Giacomo in the church of San Francesco in Citta di Castello since yesterday morning continuously, without cease. My parents heard that many people were visiting the shrine to ask for miracles and that many pilgrims had in fact been cured. According to my mother, people had been traveling to the church of San Francesco from all over Italy, even from as far as Germany, seeking Fra Giacomo’s intercession to rid themselves of all sorts of maladies. There were reports of blind men seeing, lame men walking, and paralytics being healed. A deaf-mute girl was able to speak and hear. A woman with a hideous skin condition suddenly was beautiful. A man with a deadly tumor was no longer ill. My parents Parisio and Emilia della Metola were never particularly Catholic and seldom attended Mass, but somehow they decided that it was worth a try to visit Fra Giacomo’s shrine. God knows how joyous they would be if instead of a disfigured dwarf they had a lovely princess for a daughter.
      The truth is my parents know how devoted I am to Christ and think I am somehow entitled to a miracle. If not you, they said when they announced our trip to Castello, who else deserves a cure? Don’t you spend your whole day praying? My father and mother – he so handsome, she so lovely, both patricians of noble lineage – were shocked on the day of my birth. I am blind, lame, dwarfish, hunchbacked, one of my legs is longer than the other, I also have a deformed arm and a misshapen face. Instead of the blessing they had expected, my parents felt cursed by what they considered a monster. For years they have tried to hide me, to pretend I did not exist, told everyone I was dead, and since I was a six-year-old they have kept me hidden in a small stone cell without a door attached to the chapel of Saint Mary of the Fortress of Metola, a place where nobody could see me, not too far from my father’s castle. But yesterday they decided for the first time in thirteen years to take me out of my prison cell, to see if God would do something to rid them of a cross they felt they had unjustly borne for far too long. Of course they made sure I was heavily veiled, so that no one could see my face, and we left under cover of darkness. I asked for a miracle mostly because it would please my parents. As for me, I have long ago made peace with my deformity. To quote Saint Paul, I will boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.
      I think that yesterday my father and mother had some hope of a miracle, but as the hours passed and nothing happened they became gradually less enthused.
      “Pray hard and loud,” my mother ordered me when we first arrived. “So that God can hear your voice above that of all the rabble.”
      “God can hear me,” I told her. “There is no need to shout.”
      “Well, pray, pray!” she beseeched me. “Tell that God you pray to that it is unjust for Him to have given you such a punishment.”
      “I have not been punished by God,” I corrected my mother. “Each person has a different cross to bear. God knows why I have been born this way. We are in no position to question the designs of Almighty God.”
      “Just pray,” my mother insisted. “Never mind whether or not you have been punished. I know that your father and I have certainly been punished. What great sin have we committed, that we should be given such a burden?”
      “Please, Lord,” I said to satisfy my mother. “Heal me of my deformity. Restore my vision. Rid me of this disfiguring hunchback. Fix my legs and my face. Make me the daughter my parents always wanted.” And then I added: “But not according to my will, but yours be done, my Lord.”
      “Don’t say that!” my mother cried excitedly. “Don’t give Him the option of denying your prayer. You make it sound as if you didn’t care much either way. Demand a miracle, demand it urgently, Margherita. You always pray so much, He has to listen to you.”
      “We can’t demand anything from God,” I responded. “God will do whatever is best for my soul.”
      “Oh, you’re hopeless,” my mother cried. “Even God can’t help you.”
      This morning, my mother and I returned to the church of San Francesco; my father, already sure any effort was fruitless, had decided to stay at the inn. Although I could not see it, I could get a sense of who else was at the church based on my mother’s apparent displeasure and disgust.
      “You should be thankful that I’m with you for a second day, Margherita. Realize that I’m doing this only for you. This place is full of hideous creatures, a parade of horribles. A lot of them are visibly diseased and I dread the possibility of contagion. There’s a woman whose face is covered by red bleeding pustules, a man defaced by enormous warts, and all you do is say. ‘Lord, do whatever you will.’ If you’re not going to put your heart into your requests, just let me know, Margherita, and we can put an end to all our prayers.”
      “All right, I shall begin to pray the Rosary,” I said. “I shall pray as hard as I can.”
      “Fine,” my mother said. “You’ve spent thirteen years doing nothing but praying. Ask God for what you deserve.” But after a few hours of listening to me pray the Rosary, with no change in my condition, she simply disappeared.
      I found myself moving to and fro among the persons begging for miracles. Some people were rough, pushing me forward as they approached the altar, at one moment I was knocked down onto the floor and the crowds simply walked over me until, with the assistance of my cane, I was able to get back on my feet. There were so many people at the church that it became unbearably hot and my forehead started to sweat profusely.
      “Please heal my son’s clubfoot,” one woman cried.
      Another exclaimed, “Please let my daughter hear again.”
      And yet another prayed, “I need a cure for this terrible affliction of the lungs.”
      “Where’s the crucifix?” I asked in my blindness and a man took me by the hand and led me through the crowds to a place where I could kneel. When I had been locked up for thirteen years in the cell next to the chapel in Metola, I had at least that solace: the window of my room directly faced the chancel of the Church, and I could hear the Benediction and knew the image of Christ on His cross was only a few meters away from me as Fra Cappellano elevated the Host during the Eucharist. And despite my blindness, I imagined, somehow, I could see Jesus in His agony on that crucifix perched high above the altar.
      At any event, today, in the Church of San Francesco, I found myself kneeling at the foot of the crucified Jesus. I said, again, “If it is your will, my Lord, please cure me of my disfigurements and let me see. It is hard to be dwarfed, humpbacked, lame and blind. I am fatigued by my condition, but it is especially fatiguing to my parents.” And then I added, as always, “not according to my will, but yours be done, my Lord.”
      The hours passed and I continued praying. I prayed the Rosary ceaselessly but there was no change in my condition. Then I finished praying and, amid the crowds, I searched for my mother. I called out her name and heard nothing in response. I had been locked up for years with scarcely any human contact – just Fra Cappellano teaching me about the faith and the servants who brought me my meals each day – and so I was wholly unaccustomed to being in such a large and boisterous crowd, everybody moving in different directions. I took hold of a woman by the arm and asked her if she could help me, told her that my mother was named Emilia. The woman, realizing that I was blind, agreed to help me, and asked among the crowds for my mother. But my mother was not there and eventually the woman stopped looking for my mother. “I’m sorry, dear,” she said in a kind voice. “But your mother is nowhere to be found.” I kept searching for hours, making my way with difficulty among the throngs. Finally someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me it was time to leave, that I could return the next morning. I left the church and walked out into the rain, not knowing what was happening. On the wagon as we travelled from Metola to Castello, my father Parisio had warned that there were outlaws who preyed upon the pilgrims and had even enlisted an escort of twelve guards to protect the carriage. Perhaps my parents had suffered an accident in the city. Perhaps they had been killed by bandits. For the first time in my life, I felt absolute terror. I made the sign of the cross and said a prayer for the safety of my parents.
      I found a woman outside the church and asked if she could direct me to the Avellino Inn, where my parents and I had been staying. She told me it was not too far away, perhaps a few kilometers, and that all I needed to do was follow the street of San Provolo directly until I heard the noise coming from the inn. The woman added that many people gathered to drink at night at the Avellino Inn, that it was the best inn in Citta di Castello, and that I couldn’t miss it even if I tried. So I started on my journey, doing what I had never done before, making my way through the roads of a city, blind, lame and completely alone.
      The streets were barren, probably because of the heavy rain, and I couldn’t find anyone to give me further directions. I noticed there were structures on either side of the road, what I imagined to be houses, and I walked with one hand on the walls and another on my cane. Surely this way I wouldn’t get lost, if I simply followed the houses on what I imagined was the street of San Provolo. But the hours passed and at some point I concluded that I had taken the wrong course. There were no longer any houses, only what seemed to be empty fields. I kept walking any way, trying to return from where I had come from, until I ran into a pack of dogs. I had never heard a dog bark before, let alone seen one, but Fra Cappellano had instructed me about the animals in God’s creation and had told me about felines, canines, and so many other creatures. I did not know what to do when faced with all those dogs – there must have been about five of them. I was afraid that if I moved, they would pounce upon me. But I said a prayer to Saint Hubert, patron saint of dog bites, and the animals ceased barking. I was even able to caress one of them, and he was gentle as could be, wet and shivering just like I was. I sat on a rock and decided to wait for dawn, when the people would fill the streets again and I could be told how to get to the Avellino Inn. And it continued to rain relentlessly.
      Finally the sun rose and shortly thereafter I heard a group of women walking together. I told them, “I am blind. Please help me. I need to find the Avellino Inn. Somehow I got lost last night.”
      “Well, you’re nowhere near it, but it just so happens we’re going in that direction. You can just walk with us. You just have to follow the river for a couple of kilometers and then walk south.”
      “Are we close to a river?” I asked.
      “Yes,” one of the women told me. “It is the Tiber River. You can’t hear it because it’s raining.”
      Finally, soaking wet, I arrived at the Avellino Inn. I asked the concierge, “I am looking for Parisio and Emilia.”
      “Well,” I’m sorry,” the woman said. “They left yesterday afternoon. Although they left a message for you.” And she handed Margherita a piece of paper.
      “I can’t see,” Margherita said. “Can you tell me what it says?”
      The woman said sure and began reading. “Since God has not deigned to accede to your requests, and you are so happy in your condition, we have decided that it is best for you to trust in Him alone. We are done with worrying about you and will leave everything in the hands of God. Find a church or convent where they will take you in and feed you. Or learn to beg if you must do so. Please do not look for us again.”
      I started weeping. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked the innkeeper. “I can’t see. I can barely walk. I’ve been locked up in a room for years. How am I supposed to keep on living?”
      “I’m sorry,” the innkeeper responded. “You can’t stay here. I am not running a charity, and in any case, there is no room at the inn. Perhaps you should just walk to the Cathedral in the center of town. That is where all the beggars go to ask for alms. I am sure that seeing your condition, many people will give you something. Enough to eat at least. Few people are humpbacked, dwarfish, lame and blind at the same time. Surely God has cursed you.”
      But I responded, amid my tears, “I am a temple of the Holy Ghost, made in His image and likeness. My condition is not a curse but a gift from God.” And with that, alone and blind, I began to brave the streets of Citta di Castello, unable to cease weeping. My parents had not been felled by bandits. In my eighteenth year, after keeping me locked up for more than a decade, they had simply abandoned me in a strange city, to face my perils alone.
      I go out into the streets, asking people for directions to the Cathedral. Eventually I asked a man where the church was. “As you can see, I am blind and crippled. I need to find the Cathedral to see if someone will take pity on me and at least give me enough so that I may eat.”
      “I, too, am a beggar,” he responded. “My name is Giuseppe and I am on my way to the Cathedral. You are new in town. What brings you here?”
      “My parents live in a castle on top of a mountain in Metola. They came to Citta di Castello on a horse and wagon to ask for a miracle from Fra Goacomo and when it didn’t happen, they simply abandoned me, as if I was an animal to be cast away. Frankly I am seriously worried about the state of their souls.”
      “That is the least of your worries,” Giuseppe told her. “Thankfully you are not beautiful, otherwise a blind lonely woman like yourself would be in danger of being raped.”
      I told him I was sure God would protect me and quoted from the twenty-third psalm: “Yeah, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For God is near me, His rod and staff, they comfort me.”
      “So you are a learned woman,” Giuseppe said. “And you know your Scriptures?”
      “For many years I was locked up in a small stone prison room next to a chapel below my father’s castle, with the smallest of windows, through which I could hear the Mass and receive Holy Communion. I had no visitors except a kind priest who instructed me in the things of God, and for that I am eternally thankful. The Lord is my refuge and my strength, even on this, the darkest of days.”
      “Well, you certainly need strength, being crippled like you isn’t easy, especially since you’re also blind. But you’re lucky it’s Sunday. I will take you to the Cathedral, on the Piazza Gabriotti, where you can meet the other beggars and join us in begging for alms after each of the Masses.”
      “Are there a lot of beggars?” I asked.
      “Quite a few, especially now that so many crippled people have come to town to ask for a miracle from Fra Giacomo. And the great majority have not been cured. We have a group of regulars who hang together and help each other out. Pool together our resources. Maybe you can join our group. During the rainy season, we sleep under bridges, sometimes go to an abandoned house on the outskirts of town, but it is pretty distant and some of the beggars are too lame to go that far. Giovanni has no arms and legs, so he has to be carried. Elena is hopelessly crippled, even worse than you are. And Gianna is too old to walk very far. I myself am pretty disfigured, although of course a person like you can’t tell. I am missing a leg and can barely walk with my crutches. And my arms are so withered that it is impossible for me to work. I can barely feed myself with both hands.”
      “I can see your heart, which is what’s important,” I said. “And I can sense a kind and loving, God-fearing soul.”
      “At any event,” Giuseppe responded, “when it is not raining, we sleep wherever God finds us.”
      “Can we please slow down,” I said. “I am not used to walking and last night I walked for hours. I’m afraid both legs are aching me horribly. So we shall have to take it a little slow. I hope you don’t mind, Giuseppe.”
      “Not in the least,” Giuseppe answered. “I don’t walk that quickly either.”
      After a long, slow walk, Giuseppe took me to the steps of the Cathedral. “I would like to go inside,” I said. “I heard so much about the marvelous Cathedral of Citta di Castello from Fra Cappellano. He described the vaulted arches, how high the ceiling is, the marvelous stained glass panels showing the Stations of the Cross. I want to enter and feel the sense of wonder, even though I cannot see anything. I would like to attend Mass, Giuseppe, to receive the Holy Eucharist. After what I went through last night, I have so much to be thankful for today.”
      “Thankful?” Giuseppe echoed. “You’ve just been abandoned by your parents, crippled, penniless and blind in a strange town. What do you have to be thankful for?”
      “I found you, didn’t I?” Margherita replied. “And for the first time in my life, I feel the warmth of the sun upon my cheeks. I’m so used to being cloistered in my small cell that even something as simple as that fills my heart with joy. To breathe the open air, to hear the clop-clop of horses on the open roads, to smell the flowers which I could only imagine when I was being hidden away, to listen to the cries of children being tugged at by their mothers, the slow murmur of the river, the grinding sound of the wagons transporting beautiful ladies and men of import on their way about town. What reason is there not to be thankful to the Lord, Giuseppe?”
      “You’re an odd bird, aren’t you, Margherita? Nothing seems to affect you.”
      “God is enough,” I answered. “Why shouldn’t we all be thankful? If you only knew what I have in my heart…”
      As the two of us walked up the steps leading to the Cathedral, quite a challenge for me, Giuseppe asked me to move a little bit to the right, as they were approaching Lucia with her paralytic son.
      “She always appears before the others and begs from the steps leading to the Cathedral, unlike the rest of the beggars, who congregate at the bottom. That is because few people give her alms, as they blame her for her son’s condition. The rumor that has spread about town is that Lucia’s son was born healthy, but his own mother severed his spine in order to cripple him, to receive more money when she was begging. But if she is guilty of such a monstrous action, it has had the contrary effect. Not many people feel like rewarding her for such a crime and so she receives less than any of the other beggars, sometimes I think she leaves with nothing.”
      “I understand,” I said, as I continued clambering up the steps in silence.
      When we finally entered the Cathedral, I asked Giuseppe to guide me to the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I extended my hand and felt the bearded face of the Christ, thinking it was exquisite. Then I touched the Lord’s left hand, the scar where He had been crucified, then the right hand, wounded too and pointing to His heart, which I pressed gently with my fingers, imagining that I could see it, the red heart surrounded by a crown of thorns and from which a flame emerged. I had heard Fra Cappellano describe it in detail so many times and touching it ignited my heart. “Oh, Giuseppe,” I cried out. “What a joy it is to be so close to Jesus! To be in this wondrous, holy place dedicated to His praise and exaltation.”
      After attending Mass, Giuseppe instructed me in how to beg. I should stand upright, he told me, so that those exiting the church would realize the enormity of my deformity. And when people approached me, I should tell them, in my most insistent voice, “Please give whatever you can afford. I am blind, hunchbacked and crippled. The Lord will repay you in spades in Heaven. Remember that the Good Lord said, ‘Whatever you did to the least of these, you did for Me.’” And the people gave. They gave and gave. I collected many coins in a jar another beggar, a friend of Giuseppe, had given me. But rather than exult in such good fortune, as soon as the crowds dissipated, I asked Giuseppe to take me to where Lucia and her paralytic boy were begging.
      “Have you collected much?” I asked Lucia.
      “No, not much,” the woman responded. “Maybe two or three coins, you must have heard that the people all say that I am an unnatural mother. But I have confessed all my crimes, have thrown my sins at the feet of God’s mercy.”
      “Well, if the Lord has forgiven you, I shall not judge you,” I said. And with those words I proceeded to give Lucia everything I had collected after the Mass.
      “Thank you,” Lucia whispered. “Surely one day you will be with God in Heaven.”
      Giuseppe berated me. “What are you doing? Have you lost your senses? How are you going to eat today?”
      “That woman needs the money more than I do,” I explained. “I do not have a paralytic son to take care of. And the Lord will provide. There will be more Masses today. I promise you we will have our fill tonight, that we will eat like rich men.”

  2. Even while imprisoned, Margaret maintained her intrinsic, God-given freedom. She demonstrated her free will by choosing to graciously accept what she could not change, by not letting her physical limitations define her, and–most importantly–by choosing to say “yes” to God. Her subsequent abandonment by her parents further liberated Margaret to develop her full potential without the physical constraint of captivity. She finally had the freedom to share her gifts with others, to give and receive human love, and to develop personal independence.

  3. vera o -1. I think that in persons, leaders, humans, there is an individual (father figure here ) wrought by power, strength, earthly armor ..versus the mom… almost foolish or simply unable to go up against his super power , the difference between him and the mom is one of lack of power, against this demigod.. ogre ..and her .careless, negligence…like sins of omission versus sins of commission…
    2. Her freedom in abandonment frees her physically from the bondage of her parents, particularly her father…although internally
    she still is not free…thinking, believing. .almost naivete that their rejection and leaving her were highly, loftily done. True freedom
    she later might find will be in her inner thoughts …like Frankl’s Search for Meaning…internal versus external….what people
    believe versus what they think…inner/outer…worldy, other worldly….

  4. I was struck by the question in the last paragraph of Fr. Jonah’s reflection: “If [God’s will] cannot fail to happen, what’s the use of praying for it?” (I should probably read the Summa reference cited before I offer my own thoughts.) The idea that God ordains a greater good for us than simply granting us what we pray for helps, but it still leaves me with the question of why pray for a specific outcome — healing, conversion, peace, whatever. St. Margaret provides the answer, I guess, by praying to God with both complete honesty (I want to be healed) and with perfect trust (but only if it is accordance with God’s will). I’m a long way from the virtue of St. Margaret, but through her example and intercession, I hope to grow more and more to desire God’s will above all else.

  5. I love pictures with words and with a camera. Thanks for the treat of the photos of Cita de Castello. Feel as if I am more present to Margaret!.
    Selfish is selfish but I do think there could be a distiniction. Parisio’s selfish ‘calculation” could be from pride which may stem from fear. Emilia’s selfish “weakness” may be fear, a common denominator with Parisio.

    The title of Chapter 8 -Margaret is Given her Freedom seems so appropriate. Passing through the suffering Margaret once again manifests the Grace of Love which she so readily accepts frees her from her experience and sense of abandonment into the arms of God and those who support her.

  6. Margaret’s parents provided her with shelter and food. Emilia and Parisio , spiritually compromised, were unable to deal with what they considered to be failure – Margaret was not about to be cured. Their decision to abandon her gives them a shot at what they consider freedom. They are free now- they can live their lives without that anchor of responsibility-worrying about Margaret. It is unfortunate that they did not see God’s hand inviting them to a higher level of love,awareness and participation in life.

  7. 1-
    I agree that Parisio makes his choice out of calculated selfishness. We have seen him do this throughout the story, in his aggressions in battle, with those who serve him, in asking Emilia about what the priest had said before the first time holing his daughter up on a cell at a church deep in the woods.
    Lady Emilia surprised me , though, with her request to bring Margaret to the church for a miracle of a cure from her disabilities. By asking Parisio for this, it seemed there must have been at least , some small part of her heart that had feelings and concern for her daughter .
    To me, this makes her choice to abandon Margaret all the more horrible and makes her decision, even if made out of weakness or fear, all the more worse .

    2- it certainly is a different way of looking at things to title the chapter, “Margaret is Given Her Freedom”.

    How does the saying go? Faith is taking a leap when you do not know if you will have wings to fly.

    Poor Little Margaret is abandoned by her parents in one last act of harsh cruelty. Besides the terror she must feel , the hunger, the bone deep exhaustion, her heart is broken
    because she loves her parents.

    I think Little Margaret would have been a saint whether imprisoned forever by her parents or not. God ‘ s graces abounded in her and she sent them out through her prayers, her trust in Him , her heart of love and forgiveness, even alone in her walled in room.
    Yet , that sainthood would not have been public and released into the world to touch others, including us reading about her today.

    Her parents talked of further battles that would come to their home and I imagine they would have fled , leaving Margaret behind in her cell where she would have starved to death.

    She would have never escaped the prison she was in.

    Yes, Margaret has gained freedom from the walls of her prison and her parents cruelty but still , such a price she paid for that freedom.

  8. In regards to question 1, I do think there is a difference between Parisio’s intent and Emilia’s. Selfishness to me implies a certain action of the will; weakness may be a natural state that the will needs to overcome. i.e to some it is easy to think only of one’s self. On the other hand, it may be hard to substitute strength of character for a natural or learned tendency towards weakness. To me, Emilia echoes the words of Christ to His disciples: “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40.

    And yes, I agree that Margaret is given freedom. In her previous state, though she had food and the security of her limited shelter, she had no freedom of will. Though now abandoned, Margaret must seek her self in the same”wilderness” that Jesus experienced during 40 days in the desert or in the Garden of Gethsemane…totally abandoned by all by God. This freedom though excruciatingly painful, leaves us completely dependent upon God, where I believe we experience the inescapable truth of our existence.

  9. Abandonment is extraordinarily cruel in the state of helplessness and panic it generates. Overcoming and mastering this situation draws on a phenomenal strength and presence. Margaret relied on God and was able to embrace her plight. She became free to chart her own destiny with God’s help. No longer did Margaret have to be subjected to parental demands.

  10. In Chapter 7, thinking about the difference between Parisio’s & Emilia’s decision-making about abandonment of Margaret, her father’s seemed more premeditated & selfish while seeming concerned and her mother’s seemingly was “go-along-to-get-along”!
    “Margaret Is Given Her Freedom” at first glance is startling! In this abandonment by her parents, Margaret showed great charity in her thoughts of her parents and her concern for their safety; again showing her great selflessness! As I relate this to my own life, I realize that a very difficult family matter that I struggled with caused me to pray more fervently and listen more intently while making serious decisions. The Word of God seemed to direct my life in a completely different direction. Much later I came to realize out of all the hardships came much peace and thanksgiving – I guess you can say, much freedom!

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