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Lessons From Rosa View Comments
By Colleen Shaddox

Colleen Shaddox and her trusted companion, Rosa.
“I love because I love,” wrote St. Bernard of Clairvaux. “I love in order that I may love.” How appropriate that the mystic shares a name with a dog breed.

As a Christian, I know that love is a gift to be given with no thought of reward. But I confess I’ve tended to love those who love me back and are kind to me—an inferior variety of love that Jesus relegated to “tax collectors.” I’ve always admired dogs because they love with abandon, not expectation.

That is, until I met Rosa. We arrived at the shelter, amazed that this cute puppy wasn’t adopted at its last event. Yet here she was: four white paws and a natural dark-chocolate eyeliner that made her look inexpressibly soulful.

“Why did her sister get adopted and not her?” I asked. The woman who runs the place speculated that it was because this pup did not scamper up to people with a plea to “love me” on her face.

Indeed, she ignored us. She preferred to munch on the phone books in the shelter office. I sat on the floor and waited. Eventually, she crawled into my lap and began chewing on the buttons of my coat. I was besotted.

Rosa quickly proved herself the smartest dog I’ve ever had. For example, a dog confronted with two tennis balls will usually puzzle over which one to choose and switch back and forth. Rosa takes one in her mouth and uses it as a tool to push the second along. If she had language and opposable thumbs, she’d be holding my leash.

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Colleen Shaddox is a writer, a wife, and a mother of an 18- year-old. She lives in Hamden, Connecticut.

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Rita of Cascia: Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life. 
<p>Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded. </p><p>Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ's crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ's passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery. </p><p>Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St. Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.</p> American Catholic Blog Your sins are great? Just tell the Lord: Forgive me, help me to get up again, change my heart! –Pope Francis

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