Kindred acorns

If you watched the AFC-NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, you know that the famous Mannings played on opposite teams.  Each a great quarterback in his own right, Peyton and Eli wowed spectators the entire game.  The brothers played in different halves, so fans doubled their viewing pleasure.  I told Steven that the game was a win-win and cheered for both sides.

Nature, nurture

Still, what’s the attraction for the fans?  Is it that the brothers followed in their dad’s footsteps or that they have a great family dynamic?  I can’t decide which impacted them more.  Nature or nurture?

The Manning brothers are indeed talented and highly regarded in their professional lives.  Moreover, fans love them, even if their public presence is different: Peyton’s commercials exude a comedic flair; Eli’s, focus on purposeful public service.

Also during Sunday’s game, Steven and I got the answer to our big question this season: Is Ronde Barber, cornerback for Tampa Bay, related to the charismatic Tiki, former running back for the NY Giants?

What a hoot to watch Tiki interview his mirror image on the TV screen!  The Barber brothers are identical twins with more than football in common.  Not only do they write books together, but they also host The Barber Shop on Sirius NFL radio.  Tiki and Ronde are equally personable and bright, but Tiki writes children’s books.  Another difference?  Tiki has two sons; Ronde, two daughters.

Although their parents divorced when they were kids, their dad was a star running back; so, again, which influenced them more?  Nature or nurture?

Religious siblings

In the case of the Mannings and the Barbers, the acorns didn’t fall far from the oak, but have you ever pondered the nature-nurture factor among our Catholic saints?

Until a few days ago, I’d only read about one saint, the Little Flower, whose four sisters were nuns, too.

Considering that their mom died when Thérèse, the youngest, was four, one can only imagine the enormity of parenting five daughters, let alone instilling such impeccable Christian values in one’s children.  No wonder Pope Benedict XVI beatified their parents, Marie Zélie and Guérin Martin, in Lisieux on October 19, 2008!

This week the church celebrates the feast days of three siblings: a nun whose twin brother founded the Benedictine Order and two missionary brothers whose linguistic giftedness lit the darkness.  Moreover, among these siblings, Saints Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius share the distinction of being Europe’s co-patrons.

Scholastica

Scholastica (c. 480-543; Feb. 10th), foundress of the Benedictine Sisters, lived about five miles away from her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Italy.  Since rules prohibited members of the order from entering each other’s residence, the siblings met halfway between his Monte Cassino monastery and her convent to discuss spiritual matters.

After one such meeting, Scholastica begged Benedict to spend the night so that they could spend more time together, but he refused.  When Benedict learned that Scholastica asked for God’s intervention, he was furious.

How dare she waste God’s time on such a trivial request!

“I asked a favor of you, and you refused it.  I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Scholastica died three days later.

In his Dialogues (c. 540-604), St. Gregory the Great wrote that God honored Scholastica’s request because she’d always placed him first in her life; and, as a gift to her brother, God allowed Benedict to witness his twin’s ascent to heaven as a dove.

One has to wonder…  Could Scholastica have sensed her death was near?  Might she have wanted time to talk about heaven with Benedict?  How would he have felt had he not spent the extra time with his sister before her death?

Because of her devotion to God St. Scholastica is known as the saint of right relationships, and she’s also the patroness of convulsive children and nuns.

Scholastica’s Benedictine Sisters seek God through prayer, work, silence, and community.  They believe that silence invites God’s presence and grows their heartfelt efforts for others in the world around them (YouTube, n. d.).

Cyril and Methodius

Unlike the quiet Benedictines, brothers Cyril (Constantine, c. 827) and Methodius (Michael, c. 826) carried the message of Christianity with voiced intent. 

Sons of prominent parents, a Greek father and a Slavic mother, their uncle provided them protection and opportunities when their father died.  Constantine studied in Constantinople where he became a deacon and learned Arabic and Hebrew.  Michael was a government official until he entered the monastery, received the sacraments, and changed his name to Methodius.

In 860, the brothers were sent out as missionaries to prevent Judaism from taking hold in the Khagan, an effort which wasn’t altogether a failure since some of the people embraced Christianity.

On returning home, Constantine became a university professor.

In 862, Constantine and Methodius were invited to preach Christianity in the territories belonging to Great Moravia so that Prince Rastislav could rid his lands of the German missionaries who taught in Latin.

During the next four years, Constantine and Methodius fulfilled their true mission in life through their wholehearted belief that people should practice their faith in their native language.  The brothers’ extraordinary background, education, and multilingual giftedness prepared Constantine and Methodius for their lifetime achievement.  Creating the basis for the Cyrillic alphabet, still used by Russians today, resulted in the Slavic language through which translations of written church materials were possible and future missionaries could teach.  This great feat earned Constantine and Methodius the title of saints, “equal to the apostles” (Orthodox Wiki, 2008),

Around 866, the brothers were summoned to Rome to defend their work.

At that time, Constantine took his monastic vows and changed his name to Cyril.  He died soon after, never returning to Great Moravia where he and Methodius had been made welcome.  Methodius became bishop and then archbishop before being imprisoned and released; but constant opposition debilitated him.

Eventually, however, he returned to Great Moravia and, together with his wife, continued to spread Christianity until his death in 885.

Building community

Like the Pro Bowl athletes, this week’s sibling saints, Scholastica and brothers Cyril and Methodius, appear to have received much support and encouragement from family members and interested others.  Never mind the healthy, although sometimes overwhelming, doses  of discomforting disequilibrium sprinkled along life’s path.

Sooo…  Which influenced the call to service— nature or nurture?

Realistically, heredity and environment are both to be credited, of course.  The important thing, Christians will say, is that each individual fulfilled his or her mission, respectively, by building community within God’s kingdom.

Prayer

O God, to show us where innocence leads you made the soul of your virgin, Saint Scholastica, soar to heaven like a dove in flight.  Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.  This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

July 11, 2013

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else” (St. Benedict).

July 11, 2014

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

December 28, 2014

If you wish to have pious, good children, you must first of all yourselves be God-fearing and lead good lives.  As the tree, so will the fruit be (St. John Vianney).

December 4, 2015

The first necessity is to find in your soul a respect for your vocation.  Once you have this sense of mission, this sense of dedication to a cause more worthwhile than any purely personal claim, the rest can follow.  Prayer, self-sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, and in fact the whole list, come spontaneously to the soul who concentrates upon the vocation over the hill.  These virtues come spontaneously…but, of course, this does not mean that they come easily (Dom Hubert van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives and other Working Women).

February 2, 2016

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

Links of interest…  Barber: Identical twins / playmates / Ronde / Tiki…  Benedictine benedictions…  Beatification of St. Thérèse’s parents (more)…  Benedictine Sisters (video)…  Catholicism & baseball: Lessons to teach…  Chapel of the patron saints of Europe…  Genetics are not as predictive as we might think…  Manning: book / Cooper / Eli / Peyton / weirdly alike…  Pope Benedict…  Pro Bowl…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messages / prayer requests / stories / virtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  Society of the Little Flower…  St. Benedict: & joyful aging& St. Thérèse: Father & child / luminous star of history / option for today / three things to know about his medal…  St. Scholastica: about (more) / Benedict’s sister (twin) / book / feast (Feb 10) / icon (more) / litany / stories…  Sts. Cyril & Methodius: about (more) / apostles (more) / brothers / co-patrons / death (Cyril) / enlighteners / feast (more – more) / July 7 / love & evangelism / memorial / origin & ethnicity / patron saints / prayer (more – readings – vocations) / profile (more) / veneration…  What was Old Church Slavic…  What would Cyril & Methodius do

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church doctors…  Disquieting moments
Gift of love…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Sacred Heart Church

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