Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Listen to the woman- Catherine of Siena

It is an unfortunate consequence that most of our greatest saints are completely ignored these days. How many Catholics would know that today is the memorial of the Seraphic Virgin, St. Catherine of Siena? It's a terrible thing that God has given glory to such as these, while we have chosen to relegate them to obscurity, despite the fact that many of them, including Catherine, are among the most influential people in history.

Consider the life of this woman, who was the 23rd child born to her family. So devoted to Christ, she consecrated her virginity to Him at the age of seven. She would go on to shave her head in an effort to make herself less attractive to potential suitors, as her family was against her choice of vocation. Her life was one of penance and sacrifice for a Church that was in disarray.

That popin' ain't easy has already been stated. In Catherine's time, this was more true than is often the case. The papacy had been exiled to Avignon, France due to the political oppression of the French monarchy. Given the excesses and corruption present there, it was not the best locale for the Vicar of Christ to set up shop. Catherine took to herself the mission of restoring the Pope to his See in Rome. She would see this accomplished by Gregory XI, only to see the Church rent by schism as those who opposed the return to Rome revolted against the newly elected Urban VI. Catherine remained loyal to Pope Urban, the true Pope, until her death.

Her most famous writing is a series of mystical conversations with God the Father known as The Dialogue. It is an extraordinary treatment of His love and mercy, not to mention a testament to the miraculous in that Catherine could write it without any formal education at all. This is the work most responsible for her being acknowledged a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

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