Monday, April 29, 2019

Saint April 30 : St. Pius V : Pope and #Reformer - Died 1572

St. Pius V
POPE AND REFORMER
Feast: April 30

Feast Day:April 30
Born:17 January 1504 at Bosco, diocese of Alessandria, Lombardy, Italy
Died:1 May 1572 in Rome, Italy
Canonized:22 May 1712 by Pope Clement XI
Patron of:Bosco Marengo, Italy
Born at Bosco, near Alexandria, Lombardy, 17 Jan., 1504 elected 7 Jan., 1566; died 1 May, 1572. Being of a poor though noble family his lot would have been to follow a trade, but he was taken in by the Dominicans of Voghera, where he received a good education and was trained in the way of solid and austere piety. He entered the order, was ordained in 1528, and taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years. In the meantime he was master of novices and was on several occasions elected prior of different houses of his order in which he strove to develop the practice of the monastic virtues and spread the spirit of the holy founder. He himself was an example to all. He fasted, did penance, passed long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, traveled on foot without a cloak in deep silence, or only speaking to his companions of the things of God. In 1556 he was made Bishop of Sutri by Paul IV. His zeal against heresy caused him to be selected as inquisitor of the faith in Milan and Lombardy, and in 1557 Paul II made him a cardinal and named him inquisitor general for all Christendom. In 1559 he was transferred to Mondovì, where he restored the purity of faith and discipline, gravely impaired by the wars of Piedmont. Frequently called to Rome, he displayed his unflinching zeal in all the affairs on which he was consulted. Thus he offered an insurmountable opposition to Pius IV when the latter wished to admit Ferdinand de' Medici, then only thirteen years old, into the Sacred College. Again it was he who defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On the death of Pius IV, he was, despite his tears and entreaties, elected pope, to the great joy of the whole Church.
He began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor, instead of distributing his bounty at haphazard like his predecessors. As pontiff he practiced the virtues he had displayed as a monk and a bishop. His piety was not diminished, and, in spite of the heavy labours and anxieties of his office, he made at least two meditations a day on bended knees in presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In his charity he visited the hospitals, and sat by the bedside of the sick, consoling them and preparing them to die. He washed the feet of the poor, and embraced the lepers. It is related that an English nobleman was converted on seeing him kiss the feet of a beggar covered with ulcers. He was very austere and banished luxury from his court, raised the standard of morality, laboured with his intimate friend, St. Charles Borromeo, to reform the clergy, obliged his bishops to reside in their dioceses, and the cardinals to lead lives of simplicity and piety. He diminished public scandals by relegating prostitutes to distant quarters, and he forbade bull fights. He enforced the observance of the discipline of the Council of Trent, reformed the Cistercians, and supported the missions of the New World. In the Bull "In Coena Domini" he proclaimed the traditional principles of the Roman Church and the supremacy of the Holy See over the civil power.
But the great thought and the constant preoccupation of his pontificate seems to have been the struggle against the Protestants and the Turks. In Germany he supported the Catholics oppressed by the heretical princes. In France he encouraged the League by his counsels and with pecuniary aid. In the Low Countries he supported Spain. In England, finally, he excommunicated Elizabeth, embraced the cause of Mary Stuart, and wrote to console her in prison. In the ardour of his faith he did not hesitate to display severity against the dissidents when necessary, and to give a new impulse to the activity of the Inquisition, for which he has been blamed by certain historians who have exaggerated his conduct. Despite all representations on his behalf he condemned the writings of Baius, who ended by submitting.
He worked incessantly to unite the Christian princes against the hereditary enemy, the Turks. In the first year of his pontificate he had ordered a solemn jubilee, exhorting the faithful to penance and almsgiving to obtain the victory from God. He supported the Knights of Malta, sent money for the fortification of the free towns of Italy, furnished monthly contributions to the Christians of Hungary, and endeavoured especially to bring Maximilian, Philip II, and Charles I together for the defence of Christendom. In 1567 for the same purpose he collected from all convents one-tenth of their revenues. In 1570 when Solyman II attacked Cyprus, threatening all Christianity in the West, he never rested till he united the forces of Venice, Spain, and the Holy See. He sent his blessing to Don John of Austria, the commander-in-chief of the expedition, recommending him to leave behind all soldiers of evil life, and promising him the victory if he did so. He ordered public prayers, and increased his own supplications to heaven. On the day of the Battle of Lepanto, 7 Oct., 1571, he was working with the cardinals, when, suddenly, interrupting his work opening the window and looking at the sky, he cried out, "A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army". He burst into tears when he heard of the victory, which dealt the Turkish power a blow from which it never recovered. In memory of this triumph he instituted for the first Sunday of October the feast of the Rosary, and added to the Litany of Loreto the supplication "Help of Christians". He was hoping to put an end to the power of Islam by forming a general alliance of the Italian cities Poland, France, and all Christian Europe, and had begun negotiations for this purpose when he died of gravel, repeating "O Lord, increase my sufferings and my patience!" He left the memory of a rare virtue and an unfailing and inflexible integrity. He was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)

Free Catholic Movie : St. Catherine of Siena - Drama with English Subtitles

Saint Catherine of Siena movie, in Italian with English subtitles. Youngest of 24 children; her father was a wool-dyer. At the age of seven she had a vision in which Jesus appeared with Peter, Paul, and John; Jesus blessed her, and she consecrated herself to Him. Her parents began making arranged marriages for her when she turned 12, but she refused to co-operate, became a Dominican tertiary at age 15, and spent her time working with the poor and sick, attracting others to work with her. Received a vision in which she was in a mystical marriage with Christ, and the Infant Christ presented her with a wedding ring. Some of her visions drove her to become more involved in public life. Counselor to and correspondent with Pope Gregory XI and Pope Urban VI. Stigmatist in 1375. Lived in Avignon, France in 1376, and then in Rome, Italy from 1378 until her death. Friend of Blessed Raymond of Capua who was also her confessor. Proclaimed Doctor of the Church on 4 October 1970. Source: Gloria tv

Pope Francis tells Hairstylists "..treating customers with kindness and courtesy....avoiding giving in to the temptation of gossip..." FULL TEXT + Video


ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO HAIRSTYLISTS OF THE COMMITTEES OF SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES

Clementine Hall
Monday, 29 April 2019



Dear brothers and sisters,
You have made use of the usual day of rest of your trade to organize a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles and to meet the Successor of Peter. I welcome you with cordial greetings and I thank every one of you, in particular your coordinator, who introduced the meeting. You represent the hairdressers, hairdressers and beauticians gathered in the Saint Martin de Porres Committee, present in many Italian regions.
This pilgrimage is a sign of the importance you attach to the Christian faith, as well as of the religious dimension that characterizes your association. This can already be seen from the fact that it is named after a saint, the Peruvian Martin de Porres. Of mixed race, he was accepted into the Order of the Dominican Fathers only as a tertiary and then as a co-operator brother. He accepted this condition, living an existence of the greatest humility, infused with love. He devoted himself with self-denial to the poor and to the sick, providing health care for them, thanks to the notions he first learned in a pharmacy and then as a student of a barber-surgeon, according to the custom of that time.
May the humble and great figure of Saint Martin de Porres, whom Pope Saint Paul VIin 1966, proclaimed patron of your trade, help you constantly to witness Christian values. Above all, may he encourage you to practice your profession in a Christian style, treating customers with kindness and courtesy, and always offering them a good and encouraging word, avoiding giving in to the temptation of gossip that can easily creep into your work environment, as we all know. May each one of you, in carrying out your typical professional work, always act with rectitude, thus making a positive contribution to the common good of society.
I accompany these hopes by invoking the gifts of the Holy Spirit on each of you and on your association, as well as on your collaborators and family members. I ask you to pray for me, and now I give you my Apostolic Blessing.

*Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office, 29 April 2019
FULL TEXT + Image Source Share from Vatican.va - Official Translation

Secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict, Archbishop Gänswein Ordains Priests at Monastery in Austria - Video

Archbishop Gänswein ordains priests in Heiligenkreuz Abbey:
In a visit to the Cistercian Monastery of Heiligenkreuz: Curia Archbishop Georg Gänswein ordained four candidates on Saturday afternoon - Fr. Isaak Käfferlein, Fr. Georg Winter, Fr. Aelred Davies from Heiligenkreuz Monastery and Mr. Fabian Eibl from the parish parish house in Paring, Germany St. Michael - in the abbey church. The four had already been consecrated to deacons last August. With currently 314 students, the Hochschule Heiligenkreuz is one of the largest priests' training centers in Europe.

In his sermon, Gänswein compared the priestly ministry with that of a sailor on a lighthouse capable of positively influencing people's course and protecting them from danger. At the same time, the private secretary of the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. warned the consecration candidates, not to succumb to the temptation to proclaim "self-driven theories" instead of the Gospel: "If priests and bishops no longer have the courage to preach the gospel, but their own wisdom, there is evil and headlines - and haven't we had more than enough of this in the recent times? " asked Gänswein. And he warned, "Whoever wants to invent a new church, who wants to mess around with its DNA, is on the wrong track and abuses his spiritual authority".

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received support from the abbey of Heiligenkreuz for his recent publication about abuse in the Church: This was emphasized by Abbot Maximilian Heim and the rector of the Benedict XVI Philosophical Theological College named after the emeritus Pope. Heiligenkreuz, P. Wolfgang Buchmüller, in a congratulatory letter to Benedict, published on the website of the convent, that they were "full of admiration for your accurate timely analysis" on the subject of abuse and that Benedict's statements "lead the way out of the crisis". "We only hope that these words will be heard".
Edited and Translated from Kath.net

Pope Francis meets President of Togo and Discusses Peace Efforts - Video

Vatican News report: Pope receives president of Togo
Among the issues that the Holy See and Togolese delegations discussed during the April 29 meetings was the Church’s contribution to Togo and the challenges facing West and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pope Francis on Monday received in audience in the Vatican, President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo, the Holy See Press Office said in a brief statement.  Gnassingbé later met Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

The Vatican said that “during the cordial discussions, the good existing relations between the Holy See and Togo were evoked, as well as the prospects of their further consolidation.”  In this context, the two sides focused on the current situation of the West African nation, “underlining the contribution of the Catholic Church to the integral development of the Togolese population, especially through her commitment in the fields of education and healthcare.”

They also discussed some challenges specific to the countries of West and Sub-Saharan Africa, and showed the “need for joint efforts at regional and international level in favour of security, stability and peace.” FULL TEXT and Image Source Share: Vatican News va

#BreakingNews Death Toll Lowered to 253 in Sri Lanka as Churches Remained Closed and People watch Mass on TV


Asia News Report: Toll from Easter massacre revised down: 100 less dead
The miscalculation due to the difficulty in identifying the bodies parts of the victims. Today, on Friday of Islamic prayer, Muslim leaders invite people to stay in their homes. All Christian churches remain closed and liturgical services suspended until full security is guaranteed.


Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sri Lankan authorities have revised down the number of deaths in the Easter massacres in three churches and three hotels in Colombo, to  "100 fewer". The announcement was made yesterday by Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, who admits a miscalculation due to the conditions of the corpses, difficult to identify and recompose. Therefore the official budget is now 253 victims, instead of the 359 previously declared; the number of wounded remains stable, over 500.

Meanwhile, investigations into the most serious massacre since 11 September 2001 continue. President Maithripala Sirisena this morning announced that the police would be on the trail of 140 people connected to the Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, for the time being the government continues to believe that the first perpetrators are two local Islamic groups (National Thowheed Jamath and al Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen) with alleged links with foreign forces.

Today, Friday, the holy day for Islam, the security alert is at maximum levels for places of worship in the Muslim community of the island. All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ullama, the main Islamic religious group, invites the faithful to recite prayers at home. Meanwhile, reports are arriving that several hundred Muslims are taking refuge in mosques for greater security. About 700 have packed into the mosque in Negombo.

Out of 22 million inhabitants, Muslims represent almost 10% of the population; Christians are 7.4% (6.1% Catholics and 1.3% Protestants).

Even with regard to the Christian population the situation remains critical. Church leaders have ordered the closure of churches and the interruption of all liturgical services until the security of places of worship and the community of faithful is fully guaranteed. Card Malcom Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, asked priests not to celebrate masses in public places. "Security is important," he said.
FULL TEXT Source Shared from Asia News IT

New Vatican Document shows Religious Freedom is being Violated even in Democracies


The International Theological Commission - Subcommission on Relgious Freedom of the Vatican has recently published a Document entitled "Religious liberty for the good of all." 
Only the first chapter is presented here showing that Religious Freedom is being violated globally and also in democratic countries.


Theological Approach to Contemporary Challenges:
1. A LOOK AT THE CURRENT CONTEXT THEOLOGICAL APPROACH TO CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES


1. In 1965 the Conciliar Declaration Dignitatis humanae was approved in a historical context that was significantly different from the current one, also with regard to the topic that constituted its central topic, namely that of religious freedom in the modern world. Its courageous clarification of the Christian reasons for respect for the religious freedom of individuals and communities, within the framework of the rule of law and the practices of the justice of civil societies, still arouses our admiration. The Council's contribution, which we can well define as prophetic, offered the Church a horizon of credibility and appreciation that greatly helped her evangelical witness in the context of contemporary society.

2. Meanwhile, a new protagonism of the religious and national traditions of the Middle East and Asia has significantly changed the perception of the relationship between religion and society. The great religious traditions of the world no longer appear only as the remnant of ancient eras and pre-modern cultures overcome by history. The different forms of religious belonging have a new impact on the constitution of personal identity, on the interpretation of the social bond and on the search for the common good. In many secularized societies the different forms of religious community are still socially perceived as relevant factors of intermediation between individuals and the State. The relatively new element, in today's configuration of these models, can be recognized in the fact that, today, this relevance of religious communities is committed to ask - directly or indirectly - for the democratic-liberal model of the rule of law and of the techno-economic direction of civil society.

3. Wherever in the world today there is the problem of religious freedom, this concept is discussed in reference - positive or negative - to a conception of human rights and civil liberties which is associated with liberal, democratic, pluralistic and secular political culture . The humanistic rhetoric that appeals to the values ​​of peaceful coexistence, individual dignity, intercultural and interreligious dialogue is expressed in the language of the modern liberal state. On the other hand, even more profoundly, it draws on the Christian principles of the dignity of the person and of the closeness between men, which have contributed to the formation and universalization of that language.

4. Today's religious radicalization, referred to as "fundamentalism", in the context of different political cultures, does not seem a simple more "observant" return to traditional religiosity. This radicalization is often characterized by a specific reaction to the liberal conception of the modern state, due to its ethical relativism and its indifference to religion. On the other hand, the liberal state appears to many to be criticizable also for the opposite reason: that is, for the fact that its proclaimed neutrality does not seem able to avoid the tendency to consider the professed faith and religious affiliation an obstacle for the admission to the full cultural and political citizenship of individuals. A form of "soft totalitarianism", one might say, which makes it particularly vulnerable to the spread of ethical nihilism in the public sphere.
5. The alleged ideological neutrality of a political culture that claims to want to build on the formation of purely procedural rules of justice, removing all ethical justification and all religious inspiration, shows the tendency to elaborate an ideology of neutrality which, in fact, imposes the marginalization, if not exclusion, of religious expression from the public sphere. And therefore, from the full freedom of participation in the formation of democratic citizenship. From here comes the ambivalence of a neutrality of the public sphere only apparent and of an objectively discriminating civil liberty. A civil culture that defines its humanism through the removal of the religious component of the human, is forced to remove also decisive parts of its own history: of its own knowledge, of its own tradition, of its own social cohesion. The result is the removal of ever more substantial parts of humanity and citizenship from which society itself is formed. The reaction to the humanistic weakness of the system even makes the arrival at a desperate fanaticism: atheistic or even theocratic, seem justified for many (especially young people). The incomprehensible attraction exercised by violent and totalitarian forms of political ideology, or religious militancy, which seemed to have been consigned to the judgment of reason and history, must question us in a new way and with greater depth of analysis.

6. In contrast to the classical thesis, which provided for the reduction of religion as an inevitable effect of technical and economic modernization, there is talk today of the return of religion to the public scene. The automatic correlation between civil progress and the extinction of religion, in truth, had been formulated on the basis of an ideological prejudice, which saw religion as the mythical construction of a human society not yet in control of the rational instruments capable of producing emancipation and well-being of the society. This scheme has proved inadequate, not only in relation to the true nature of religious conscience, but also in reference to the naive trust turned to the humanistic effects of technological modernization. Nevertheless, it is precisely theological reflection that has helped to clarify, in these decades, the strong ambiguities of what was hastily referred to as the return of religion. This so-called "return", in fact, also presents aspects of "regression" towards personal values ​​and democratic coexistence that are at the base of the humanistic conception of the political order and social bond. Many phenomena associated with the new presence of the religious factor in the political and social sphere appear to be completely heterogeneous - if not contradictory - with respect to the authentic tradition and cultural development of the great historical religions. New forms of religiosity, cultivated in the wake of arbitrary contaminations between the search for psycho-physical well-being and pseudo-scientific constructions of the vision of the world and of the self, appear rather to the believers themselves, as disturbing deviations of religious orientation. Not to mention the crude religious motivation of some forms of totalitarian fanaticism, which aim to impose terrorist violence, even within the great religious traditions.

7. The gradual post-modern subtraction of the commitment to truth and transcendence certainly raises the political and juridical theme of religious freedom in new terms. On the other hand, the theories of the liberal state that think of it as radically independent of the contribution of argumentation and the testimony of religious culture must conceive of it as more vulnerable to the pressure of the forms of religiosity - or pseudo-religiosity - that seek to to assert itself in the public space outside the rules of a respectful cultural dialogue and a civil democratic confrontation. The protection of religious freedom and social peace presupposes a state that not only develops logics of mutual cooperation between religious communities and civil society, but shows itself capable of activating the circulation of an adequate culture of religion. Civil culture must overcome the prejudice of a purely emotional or ideological vision of religion. Religion, in turn, must be incessantly stimulated to elaborate in a humanistically understandable language the vision of reality and coexistence that inspire it.
8. Christianity - Catholicism in a specific way, and precisely with the seal of the Council - has conceived a line of development of its religious quality that passes through the repudiation of every attempt to exploit political power, even if practiced in view of a proselytism of faith. Evangelization today addresses the positive enhancement of a context of religious and civil liberty of conscience, which Christianity interprets as a historical, social and cultural space conducive to an appeal of faith that does not want to be confused with taxation, or take advantage of a state of awe of man. The proclamation of religious freedom, which must apply to everyone, and the testimony of a transcendent truth, which does not impose itself by force, appear to be deeply adherent to the inspiration of faith. The Christian faith, by its nature, is open to positive confrontation with the human reasons of truth and good, which the history of culture brings to light in the life and thought of peoples. The freedom of the search for words and the signs of God's truth, and the passion for the brotherhood of men, always go together.

9. The recent transformations of the religious scenario, as well as of humanistic culture, in the political and social life of peoples, confirm - if it were necessary - that the relations between these two aspects are close, profound, and of vital importance for the quality of coexistence and for the orientation of existence. In this perspective, the search for the most adequate forms to guarantee the best possible conditions for their interaction, in freedom and peace, are a decisive factor for the common good and for the historical progress of human civilizations. The imposing season of migrations of entire peoples, whose lands are now rendered hostile to life and coexistence, above all due to an endemic settlement of poverty and a permanent state of war, are creating, within the West , structurally interreligious, intercultural, inter-ethnic societies. Is it not time to discuss, beyond the emergency, the fact that history seems to impose the true invention of a new future for the construction of models of the relationship between religious freedom and civil democracy? The treasure of culture and faith that we have inherited over the centuries, and which we have freely accepted, should it not really generate a humanism that is in keeping with the appeal of history, capable of responding to the demand for a more habitable land?

10. With reference to the "signs of the times" to come, which have already begun to happen, it is necessary to have adequate tools to update Christian reflection, religious dialogue, and civil confrontation. Resignation, faced with the hardness and complexity of some involutions of the present, would be an unjustifiable weakness with regard to the responsibility of faith. The bond of religious freedom and human dignity has also become politically central: the two are held tightly together, in a way that today appears definitively clear. A believing Church that lives within human societies increasingly characterized in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic sense - this seems to be the movement of history - must be able to develop in time a competence suitable for the new existential condition of its testimony of faith. A condition not so different, moreover, on closer inspection, from that in which Christianity was sent to sow and was able to flourish.

11. This document begins by recalling the teaching of the Conciliar Declaration Dignitatis humanae and its reception, in the magisterium and in theology, after the Second Vatican Council (cf. chapter 2). Then, in a synthetic outline of the principles, above all anthropological, of the Christian understanding of religious freedom, it is a question of the religious freedom of the person first in his individual dimension (cf. chapter 3) and then in his community dimension, emphasizing between the another is the value of religious communities as intermediate bodies in social life (cf. chapter 4). The two aspects are inseparable in reality, however, since the rooting of religious freedom in the personal condition of the human being indicates the ultimate foundation of his inalienable dignity, it seems useful to proceed with this order. Subsequently religious freedom towards the State is considered and some clarification is offered with regard to the contradictions registered in the ideology of that conception of State religiously, ethically, value neutral (cf. chapter 5). In the final chapters, the document focuses on the contribution of religious freedom to coexistence and social peace (see chapter 6), before highlighting the central place of religious freedom in the mission of the Church today (cf. chapter 7) .
12. The general approach of the reflection that we propose in the text can be briefly outlined in these terms. We do not intend to propose an academic text on the many aspects of the debate on religious freedom. The complexity of the theme, both from the point of view of the various factors of personal and social life that are involved, and from the point of view of the interdisciplinary perspectives which it calls into question, is common evidence. Our fundamental methodological choice can be summarized as a theological-hermeneutical reflection, in a dual purpose. (a) First, to propose a reasoned update on the reception of Dignitatis humanae. (b) Secondly, to explain the reasons for the right integration - anthropological and political - between the personal and the community instance of religious freedom. The need for this clarification depends essentially on the need for the Church's own social doctrine to take into account the most relevant historical evidences of the new global experience.

13. The absolute ethical-religious indifference of the State weakens civil society towards the discernment required for the application of a truly liberal and democratic right, capable of effectively taking into account the community forms that interpret the social bond in view of the common good. At the same time, the correct elaboration of the thought on religious freedom in the public sphere, asks of Christian theology itself an in-depth study of the cultural complexity of today's civil form, capable of theoretically blocking the path to regression in a theocratic key of common law. The underlying theme of the clarification proposed here is inspired by the usefulness of keeping the personalistic, community and Christian principles of everyone's religious freedom closely linked, both anthropologically and theologically. The development does not aspire (nor could it) to the systematic nature of the "treaty". In this sense, therefore, we should not expect from this text a detailed theoretical exposition of the categories (political and ecclesiological) that are involved. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that many of these categories are exposed to fluctuations in meaning: both because of the different cultural context of employment, and according to the different ideologies of reference. Despite this objective limit, imposed by the subject itself and by its evolution, this updating tool will be able to offer a valid help for a better level of understanding and communication of Christian witness. Both in the area of ​​ecclesial awareness with regard to the right respect for the humanistic values ​​of the faith; both within the current conflict of interpretations on the doctrine of the State, which calls for a better elaboration of the new relationship between the civil community and religious affiliation, not only theological, but also anthropological and political.

St. Catherine - The Bride of Christ - Insights into a Great Love of Jesus we can Learn - by Dr. Gary D. Knight


The bride of Christ

Dr. Gary D. Knight

Saint Catherine of Siena can be recognized as a quintessence or ‘icon’ of the bride of Christ, the bride who - because of marriage anticipated – is His own mystical body: the Church. Catherine was presented to Jesus in a vision by His mother, and a ring placed on her finger. In ‘real life’ the ring was painful stigmata that brought her out of this ‘vale of tears’ at 33 years. But she received the gift of the quill miraculously, writing as compellingly as any doctor of the Church. How great that appellation is: ‘doctorus’ in Latin means teacher. Who could teach the mystical body that holds the keys of heaven, but an exemplar entirely docile to the Holy Spirit?

The ‘real life’ and ‘vale of tears’ are parenthesized for reasons that Catherine might assert. When having visions of hell, purgatory and heaven, she was in a death-like trance; yet these illuminations were more real to her than our waking hours, as is fitting for Last Things as compared with a land of exile rather like the den of Lost Boys. The world in its ‘real life’ so far from God, often runs along the line of a nightmare. Most remarkably, the professed virgin who would shun any incubus (archaic for bad dream) was led to embrace the temporal with Christian vigour, even fire.

Have you ever felt inclined to picture these passing things as a diseased reverie, or been more oppressed than by hot temperatures: like a feverish dream from which it seems better (if possible) to awake? Pity indeed those who feel it without relent and who choose to force the nocturnal hand; for as Shakespeare put it what ‘dreams’ may come? As a Christian he did not mean imaginings, but something more like the inverse of the unconscious state, where a decision to end it is part of a great delusion. That was due caution.

Catherine certainly recognized that hard realities are oppressive to distraction, delusional like the pain of an abscessed tooth with no anaesthetic in sight. And instead of remaining in cloister as she had done for a three year preparation, basting in interior light, she went into the darkness of the world: the poor, the suffering, the ignorant, and provided charm, calm and counsel along with her ministrations against distress. In this she was an incarnate daughter of Mary.

On earth the parent of a spouse is an ‘in-law’ parent; but in the heaven the relation of love surpasses ‘law’ and legalities, so that the mother of Christ is equally a mother of those who are united to Him more closely than a bride and groom. More closely because even spouses here cannot entirely share each other’s mind and affections, not even each other’s bodily strengths and afflictions (though some come close). In Christ, all is shared.

So the spouse of Jesus, daughter of Mary, rather than remaining in her hyperdulic trances, went forth just as Mary went out to visit her elder cousin Elizabeth to assist her in late-life childbearing – which couldn’t have been easy as John was a kicker and leaper even three months before birth. Her husband might even play on muteness as maybe including deafness (we don’t hear of him running out to greet Mary at her hailing). No more welcome guest to the toiling could be a daughter of Mary.

Perhaps this is why consolations found in this life are so lasting or meaningful: on the surface you wouldn’t expect that telling a few salutary prayers at a bedside would much help the dying, or arm their beloved behind. But it does. Think of your own nightmares: in panic being chased down by a wolf, the appearance of an open door too narrow for the beast is very heartening. Getting to it is even more so. And life is like that.

It is of value to insinuate ourselves in Catherine’s mind. She knows like few others that in so many ways life is a chimera, and an arduous one at that. She knows that the hints of peril we find in shame or defeat are magnified beyond all proportion on an eternal scale .. and that has a bearing on why we have a conscience at all. Yet she applies the commission received from her Spouse to go out and make disciples among all, by piercing their gloom with the hope from springs eternal. She willingly makes a temporal detour from real reality, to reach into this miasmic world and shed His light.

What does that teach us about what her Spouse did in the first place? In the vision of her Mystical Marriage, as she called it in her memoirs, Jesus showed Catherine, as He did his apostles, the glorified wounds from which had poured the price of human salvation. Salvation from what? From the exile of Eden, dominating fear of death, weakness of will, proclivity to neglect God our life, and this dream-like darkening of mind. From this incarnate ‘reality’ of exile under a darkening sun Jesus the Light had to lead souls who follow to His agony and death beyond all telling, with eclipse and quake, graves open, curtains torn, and all things gone quiet – yes, even the birds. He had to express our whole torment: “why have You turned from me?” and a mind on the edge – “I thirst”. In forty days of preparation he had never even said “I’m hungry”. This was in extremum if ever it was.

The passion of Christ is (among infinitely many other things) a reflection on the woeful power of our ‘passions’, our heavy-laden emotions with power to sway our minds without even our knowing or clear acknowledgement of their vacillating power, just as in a dream. “Weep not for me, but for your children” He said on the via dolorosa, showing the compassion of a God-Man who could see our days coming when the ‘woods would be dry’ rather than green, and when the unimaginable is being done, while then and there Deicide was perpetrated. “What will they do when the wood is dry” He asked, and it was not just cryptic reference to the new-cut limb he was bearing on a shoulder.

Jesus always showed compassion for us, who are living on the outside, past the perception of inner reality. “The (sleeping) spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.  “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks” but your (distracted) will was elsewhere. “If you knew Who it was asking you for a drink, you would instead ask Him for a draught of living water”. “Their lips are close but their hearts are far away”. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. “You of little faith; why did you doubt?” Even Nicodemus, a ‘teacher in Israel’ could only find answers at night-time, hearing ‘you are only in gestation’: “you must be born from above”.

So this is the reality of those being formed in the mind of Christ. We are only in gestation, like the child yet unborn. That is why so often the confines and bumps of this life seem like a reverie, even a threat. Yet in this state behind the veil, we are fully human and called to the Life that is the Way, the Truth, as Jesus characterized himself saying “the Truth shall set you free”. Like his herald still in his mother’s womb, we can hear that voice and begin to be active, gesturing at the dance which transcends even graces we receive in the now. If we are just as tended-to by Mary as in the prenatal days of John, Catherine came to know it, and went forth in haste.


Prayer: Dear Lord our God
May we be so inspired and enamoured of the life and ministrations
of your beloved saint, Catherine of Siena, who armed by the undying
hope of seeing You as she does now face to face in Love, went forth
doing all the good that she could find to do .. to the poor,
the suffering, the aged, the infirm, the ignorant and the neglected,
without omitting to converse in civil and national political life
or to communicate with bishops including the successor of Peter,
that
we may, in some measure like her, embrace the oppressions of
this temporal life increasingly full of injustices and insults
against not just You and your saints but humanity as your creation,
and carry forth to our brothers and children and spouses and elders
the fullness of expectant hope in that birth from above
that comprises our salvation and Your eternal embrace.

Betrothedly Yours,  a servant and friend of St. Catherine of Siena.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday, April 29, 2019 - #Eucharist



Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 267

Reading 1ACTS 4:23-31

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, "Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.


Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Responsorial PsalmPS 2:1-3, 4-7A, 7B-9

R. (see 11d) Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples utter folly?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the princes conspire together
against the LORD and against his anointed:
"Let us break their fetters
and cast their bonds from us!"
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He who is throned in heaven laughs;
the LORD derides them.
Then in anger he speaks to them;
he terrifies them in his wrath:
"I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain."
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD.
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD said to me, "You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall rule them with an iron rod;
you shall shatter them like an earthen dish."
R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaCOL 3:1

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
"Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him."
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to him,
"How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?"
Jesus answered,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."