February 22 --- St. Margaret of Crotona
During the time of St. Margaret's birth, the thirteenth century, the great orders of the Church were beginning to make their mark.
Twenty years before, St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata and St. Clare died when St. Margaret was but four years old. A few years later her own mother died, leaving Margaret in the house with her father and new step mother.
This arrangement proved difficult for Margaret whose sensitive nature conflicted with the strict temper of her new mother. Therefore, at seventeen it was easy for Margaret to run away with a young cavalier who took her to his castle and a life of worldly pleasures.
For nine years, Margaret lived in dissolution ending when she found her lover in a grave a few miles from the castle. Not having a place to go, she turned to prayer, finding solace and direction at the Friary of the Franciscans of Crotona. Here she was taken in by two sisters who willingly shared their meager means with her.
From this point on, Margaret spent the rest of her life in prayer, penance and poverty, constantly making reparation for the sins of her past. Her body lies incorrupt in the Church of St. Basil since February 22, 1297, the day of her death at fifty years old.
When one considers the life of St. Margaret of Crotona, he immediately thinks of the mercy of God. But a closer look reveals that along with God's mercy came His justice. St. Margaret had to endure many sufferings before she was confirmed in grace. She struggled with many temptations, fasted rigorously, and worked without compensation. Our Lord called her "poverella" while she endured a time of probation and purification. Only after she completely atoned for her sins did she merit being called "My child".
Mercy and Justice are always found together. One does not exist without the other. Sin offends God. The sinner must amend the injustice. God in His mercy shows the sinner the need to do this. Let us ask St. Margaret for the grace of understanding the evils of sin and the need for sorrow, reparation and atonement.