(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love)
" "Our Lord is loved by so few, because few consider the pains He has suffered for us; but he that frequently considers them cannot live without loving Jesus." – Meditation on the Passion

Saturday, April 28, 2012

St. Catherine of Siena

Jesus to St. Catherine: “What I ask of you is nothing other than love and affection for Me and for your neighbor. This can be done at any time, any place, and in any state of life.”

“In the way of God, he who makes no progress loses ground.”

“Choose the Truth...Will to know the truth!”

“Proclaim the Truth and do not be silent through fear.”

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Thanks to St. Catherine of Siena our excuses for failing to love our priests, or to proclaim the Truth or to faithfully live out our Catholic faith must come to an end! The fear that once reigned in our hearts must be replaced with an unyielding zeal for the salvation of souls – all souls – and for the sanctification of all our priests!

“If you are what you should be,”she once exclaimed, “you will set the whole world ablaze.” How many fires have any of us set lately?

No longer will any of us in good conscience be able to play the “I am only a lay person” card to avoid fraternally correcting those we love, especially those in the Church who have failed to fill their role as authentic teachers and shepherds.

The time for claiming we lack sufficient education or ability to do what we know God expects us to do is over. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that God never asks us to do anything without giving us what we need to accomplish our assigned task.

More than six centuries ago, this illiterate lay woman made this rather frank observation about the condition of the Catholic Church of her time: “Since the Church began aiming more at temporal things than at spiritual, things have gone from bad to worse.” Would she feel the same today?

Francis Fernandez writes In Conversation With God (Vol. 6, Section 32.2, page 203) that Catherine “refused to tolerate any faintheartedness in the service of God. She was utterly convinced that when the salvation of souls was at stake being unduly tolerant or understanding with mediocrity was totally unacceptable, because it is in effect only a concession to laziness or cowardice. ‘Enough of all this soft soap!’ she cried out. ‘All it does is cause the members of Christ’s Spouse to stink!’ ”

What might this mystic and Doctor of the Church have to say about today’s Church or the courage or lack thereof of its lay members? What odor might she detect within her beloved Church? Would she be pleased to see how we laity have lived out our unique vocation?

Were St. Catherine of Siena here among us today, would she agree with the following question and answer posed by Servant of God Fulton Sheen prior to his death: “Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops, and your religious act like religious”.

I think so. I also suspect that she would be encouraging all laity, but especially her lay Dominican brothers and sisters, to better fulfill the good Archbishop’s challenge.

St. Catherine of Siena has so much to offer the contemporary Catholic Church. I hope this inadequate tribute to her this day will prompt you to read The Life of St. Catherine of Siena, written by her confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, her timeless spiritual classic, The Dialogue, and her Letters.

Let us pray: “O God, through Saint Catherine You teach us the wonderful truth about our own human nature – that we live in You and You live in us. With the help of her prayers may this knowledge help us to advance in virtue and to serve you all our days. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. ” (The concluding morning prayer on this great saint's feastday, as set forth in the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers)

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