From the Pastor
April 23, 2017
Today we honor Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, who was born on March 25, 1347
and who died on what became her Feast Day: April 29, 1380, at just 33 years of age. In art, she is usually depicted in her Dominican
habit with the stigmata or wounds
Christ; a crown
thorns due to her many illnesses and temptations; a victorious
crown for her success over all her struggles; the barque [boat] of
Italy and/or yellow and white Papal
Flag since she ‘prodded’ [to say the least!] the Pope to end the papal exile in Avignon, France and return to Rome. Saint
Dominic is often seen with her, as well as Christ
Bridegroom, since she was ‘mystically married’ to Him and with a Rosary and our Blessed Mother; and a book because of her many writings. Here’s what her orations say about her.
Saint Catherine of Siena – Collect
O God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love in her contemplation of the Lord’s Passion and her service of your Church,
grant, through her intercession, that your people, participating in the mystery of Christ,
may ever exult in the revelation of his glory.
Who lives and reigns…for ever and ever. Amen.
“NO PAIN, NO GAIN.”
Long before this adage became a mantra for those trying to get and stay in good physical condition, here’s what Saint Catherine said about those who seek to be in good spiritual condition: “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
She certainly knew suffering: the youngest of 25 kids, half of whom did not survive childhood, including her twin sister, the future Saint prepared herself for Religious Life, rather than marriage, in ways we would today call ‘strange.’
She never became a vowed Sister or Nun, but as a Third Order celibate Dominican, lived at home, immersing herself in prayer, fasting, service to the poor, and even political and ecclesiastical controversies … truly a woman before her times! She dictated her mystical revelations to scribes who ‘penned’ her spiritual writings. In all this she shows how no situation or suffering can stop us from proclaiming the Gospel!
Saint Catherine of Siena – Prayer over the Offerings
Accept, O Lord, the saving sacrifice we offer in commemoration of Saint Catherine, so that, instructed by her teaching, we may give ever more fervent thanks to you, the one true God.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
WE MUST BE OUR TRUEST SELF.
As Saint Catherine said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
As noted in my reflection on her Collect, we can change the world by becoming whatever God calls us to be, in whatever situations God wills us to live. And though we hate to admit it, more is often accomplished through our losses and sufferings, pains and sorrows, sins and even our experiences with death – than our successes and joys! Thus is the mystery of the Cross and power of the ‘saving sacrifice’ of Jesus, which gives eternal meaning and purpose to all we unite to His sacrifice.
To help us do all this, we have Saint Catherine’s 400 letters, known as her ‘Dialogue,’
and her prayers. Her works are so influential that Blessed Pope Paul VI numbered her and Saint Teresa of Ávila among the Church’s 37 Doctors; the only 2 other female Doctors are Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, by Saint John Paul II, and Saint Hildegard of Bingen by Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Saint Catherine of Siena – Prayer after Communion
May the heavenly table at which we have been fed, O Lord, confer eternal life upon us, as even in this world it nourished the life of Saint Catherine. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
While her extreme fasting [sometimes she tried to live on just the Blessed Sacrament!] would be criticized today, have we gone to the other extreme? What value do we place on receiving weekly Eucharist, attending Eucharistic Adoration, making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament? May Saint Catherine, patroness against fire, illness, the United States, Italy, miscarriages, people ridiculed for their faith, sexual temptation, and nurses, help us seek Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS