I did not have very affectionate parents. Products of their own upbringings, I actually never remember them saying they loved me, or showing any signs of outward affection. I am not sure if it was just the way it was in those days, (I know now that my grandmother prayed a rosary in front of a Holy Family image every night with her children)I just always remember feeling separate from the rest of the family.
What I also do remember is being told I was a “mistake”, and how my mom had finally gotten her drivers license. The other 3 kids were older, and she felt that being pregnant with me took her freedom away again. It was not a heartwarming thought.
Now, I am not saying my mom did not love me, I know in her own way she did, but she had her own deep wounds, and as with all of us, she brought them into our relationship. My dad was pretty much an absent father with whom I had no relationship. I cannot even remember him ever holding me. He spent most of his time working at his restaurant. It would not be until decades after that we formed any relationship at all.
Needless to say with sisters so much older, and this lack of love and affection, I grew up very lonely with a persistent feeling of not belonging and being unloved, all of which I am sure, contributed to my poor choices and the fact that I became pregnant as a teen. I am not making excuses for myself, but I was searching for love, as they say, “in all the wrong places.” Sadly, when I told my parents I was asked to leave the house and forget I was their daughter and they were going to forget it too. It is hard to put into words that deep abandonment that became part of my life for years.
After much destruction and a failed marriage I came back to the church and was blessed with a spiritual director who formed me in the faith. One of the books he gave me to read was, “The Life of Blessed Margaret of Castello”.
Blessed Margaret was born with many physical handicaps . She was blind, deformed, hunchbacked and crippled and sadly “unwanted”…the perfect candidate for adverse diagnosis and today’s push for abortion. She has been taken by many pro life groups as their patroness because of this.
For me however, she represented a different thing. Her father, a lord, and her mother, were ashamed of her and kept her hidden away and locked up for 14 years in a cell next to the church. The parish priest was one of her only visitors, who instructed her in the faith and love of God. In spite of her situation, Margaret had great love for her parents and grew in the love of God through her interactions with the priest.
At the age of 20 they brought her to a church hoping and praying for a healing. when it did not happen, they abandoned her there. She sat waiting for them to return but they never did. Although she was sad and hurt, instead of resentment and anger because of her love of God, she forgave her parents and moved on with her life. She was filled with love and humility and ministered to prisoners. She was greatly loved by many.
I can still remember when I read the book, it totally touching the part inside of me that felt the abandonment of my parents, who had kicked me out of the house and disowned when I became pregnant. Blessed Margaret through her example helped me to forgive and continue to love them, and heal from the pain of the experience by helping to draw me closer to the one who would never abandon me, Jesus.
Blessed Margaret’s feast day is April 13th, so her novena begins today, April 5th. I have included it here for those of you who may wish to join me in praying to this unwanted, abandoned woman who found the ultimate love in Jesus Christ.
Her body lays incorrupt under the main altar at St Dominic’s Church in Costello.
Blessed Margaret of Castello, pray for us!
O God, by whose will the blessed
virgin Margaret was blind from birth,
that the eyes of her mind being
inwardly enlightened she might think
without ceasing on You alone, be
the light of our eyes, that we may
be able to flee the shadows of this
world, and reach the home of never-
ending light. We ask this through
Christ, our Lord.
Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be to