Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

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St Catherine of Sienna did not have any advantages other than a deep love for and therefore closeness to Jesus. She remained humble, but did what God directed. She learned from Jesus in prayer. She was attentive to God. Let us follow her example.

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Title

The Core of Holiness is Obedient Intimacy with God

Outline

We often identify holiness with great service or leadership

In St Catherine of Sienna we see, as in Paul, something quite different.
She was characterized by humility and quiet prayer and her public influence was more thrust upon her rather than sought.
Let us see how she is a 14th century reflection of our readings

First, her life was lived among many limitations

It was relatively short, even for the 14th century - 33 years
She was not educated and her literacy was at best limited
And while a community gathered around her, she was not in a prominent ecclesiastic position
Finally, she suffered both physically in her body, including from fasting and vigils and her travel at Christ’s behest, and spiritually from knowing about the state of the Church.
She lived what she read or was read to her in Paul, “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”

Second, she was attentive to God

She was attentive to the reading of the scriptures and also attentive to those conversing about God or preaching the scriptures. This attentiveness and reflective spirit laid the groundwork for God’s use of her.
From meditation and contemplation she knew “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Not all receive such visions and raptures as she did, but in some form those who assiduously seek God are taught by him. She experienced what Jesus taught, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
She drank deeply from Jesus whom she loved: “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. . . . ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” She drank from his heart as from the river from the new Temple.

Third, while humble, she boldly did what God directed.

She obeyed God and went to France to see the Pope, a significant trip, and there she could have said, “Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.” I do not think we reflect enough on what a woman calling the Pope to move back to Italy meant in those days.
She continued to advise popes - in an era of multiple popes - but only when consulted. Mostly she prayed for them.
She dictated her various writings, especially her life, because God gave her the impulse. She was not seeking influence, but seeking him.

Let us, then, make St Catherine of Sienna, our guide

I would frankly start with her Life and then move on to other teachings.
She will point us on to prayer
She will not despise our education - she was a Dominican tertiary not a Franciscan - but will point us to lay it at the feet of Jesus in prayer and to draw our direction from communion with Jesus.
And she will show us how to trust Jesus, not letting our apparent limitations stop us from doing all that Jesus calls us to do - not health or age or education or situation or whatever.
From out of a simple and unknown cloistered group came forth a doctor and wisdom and direction for the Church, but it was a position given by Jesus full of his wisdom to a woman whose only desire was to draw closer to him and see him heal his Church.

Readings

Colossians 1:24–29 RSV2CE
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.
Catholic Daily Readings 4-29-2023: Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

RESPONSE

Psalm 103:1

1 Of David.

Bless the LORD, my soul;

all my being, bless his holy name!

PSALM

Psalm 103:1–4, 8–9, 13–14, 17–18

1 Of David.

Bless the LORD, my soul;

all my being, bless his holy name!

2 Bless the LORD, my soul;

and do not forget all his gifts,

3 Who pardons all your sins,

and heals all your ills,

4 Who redeems your life from the pit,

and crowns you with mercy and compassion,

8 Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger, abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always accuse,

and nurses no lasting anger;

13 As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

14 For he knows how we are formed,

remembers that we are dust.

17 But the LORD’s mercy is from age to age,

toward those who fear him.

His salvation is for the children’s children

18 of those who keep his covenant,

and remember to carry out his precepts.

John 7:14–18 RSV2CE
14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. 15 The Jews marveled at it, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; 17 if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
John 7:37–39 RSV2CE
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Notes

Catholic Daily Readings 4-29-2023: Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 2023 | MEMORIAL

SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

YEARS 1 & 2 | ROMAN MISSAL | LECTIONARY

From Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter

First Reading Acts 9:31–42

Response Psalm 116:12

Psalm Psalm 116:12–17

Gospel Acclamation John 6:63c, 68c

Gospel John 6:60–69

Or from the Proper of Saints

First Reading 1 John 1:5–2:2

Response Psalm 103:1

Psalm Psalm 103:1–4, 8–9, 13–14, 17–18

Gospel Acclamation Matthew 11:25

Gospel Matthew 11:25–30

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