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Molly CahillNovember 16, 2022

How the saints teach us to love

Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746) - Saint Margaret (c.1045–1093), Queen of Scotland - 998409 - National Trust. (Wikimedia Commons)

A Reflection for the Optional Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland

Find today’s readings here.

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends. (
Jn 15:13)

It’s always fun to learn about women saints—especially ones who were 11th-century European princesses.

Today, the church celebrates the feast of St. Margaret, the patroness of Scotland and, by all accounts, the picture of grace and charity. She helped to revitalize the Scottish church after marrying Malcolm III and becoming queen, and she served as a loving matriarch to a large family. She was also known for her particular devotion to the poor.

(A wild fun fact I learned in my research: Several centuries after Margaret died and her remains were interred, Mary, Queen of Scots, obtained Margaret’s head. Eventually, the head fell under the care of Jesuits at a seminary in Douai, France! The head was lost during the French Revolution, and its location is still unknown today.)

In 1093, Margaret’s husband and eldest son died in battle. When the news reached her back at home, she was heartbroken and died just a few days later. She wasn’t even 50 years old.

It’s always fun to learn about women saints—especially ones who were 11th-century European princesses.

In her family life and public-facing role, Margaret gracefully embodied the lesson of the Gospel that the church chooses for her feast: Live your life in love.

What’s so beautiful about the language of this Gospel reading is that the way it speaks about love is all-encompassing. It’s not just something you feel or even something you do; it’s an animating spirit that seems to wash over your whole being when you commit to it. Love, joy, sacrifice: They’re all intertwined, flowing from one another naturally.

If love isn’t just something that you do but also who you are, it makes sense that you would give generously to the poor. It makes sense that you would forgive and show mercy to those who wronged you. It makes sense that you would seek peace.

This is an unbelievable sentence to even utter, but maybe it even makes sense that you would lay down your life for a friend. As dangerous and scary and mind-boggling as that might be, deep love draws us out of ourselves. Deep love, the deepest love, often leads to almost superhuman sacrifice.

The saints, Margaret included, are great examples to us of love that is more than feeling, word or even deed. As they strive to be like God, love becomes who they are.

More: Scripture

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