Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/29/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Oh eternal God, receive the sacrifice of my own life on behalf of the mystical Body of Holy Church. I have nothing else to give except what You have given me.

Companions of Catherine regularly noted how she maintained her joy, even in suffering, and her femininity, even in her dogged and courageous contending with Church leaders! Her witness of life and her extraordinary letters became a great influence on another woman hero of the faith, Teresa of Avila. Teresa of Avila credited her own call to spiritual progress (in addition to the influence of the Lord Himself) to the prayers and example of Catherine.

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour what she did in her own.

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour what she did in her own.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/29/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Catherine of Siena, saints, heroes of the faith, John Paul II, John XXIII, holiness, heroic virtue, prayer, new feminism, sanctity, purity, new evangelization, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, Saints John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized. The faithful gathered in St Peters square - and throughout the whole world.

Together, we celebrated two holy men whose profoundly Christian witness of life, heroic virtue and holiness make them good models for imitation - and powerful intercessors in the communion of Saints.

Saints put legs on the Christian faith. In our day, an age with no heroes, they need to be held up high! They inspire us, no matter what our state in life or vocation. They need to be imitated, as they imitated Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 4:16)

Saints are a gift for the whole the Church. They remind us that the Risen Jesus Christ still walks in our midst, making ordinary men and women extraordinary. And, he can do the same with each one of us. That is why their stories are recounted in our common family history. This is called hagiography.

The stories of these great heroes of the Faith help us to aspire to follow the Lord in our own lives. They are a part of that that great cloud of witnesses which the author of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews speaks of in this verse:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, we commemorate one of the greatest women saints of our history, Catherine of Siena.  While praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her shoulders.

So conformed to the Savior, she joined herself to His ongoing redemptive mission. She offered herself- and her suffering - as a "victim" for the renewal of the whole Church, which is His Body.

On April 29 of that year, around midday, God called her to Himself in the passing of death.

Days before her death, she wrote, "If I die, let it be known that I die ... of passion for the Church." Her deathbed prayer is a model of intimate love for the Lord. She was completely poured out in love for the Lord, and given over to His work.

She is an outstanding example for all who follow Jesus Christ - and desire the healing and unity of the Church in our own day. More than anything else, we need Saints in this urgent hour.

These beautiful words are found in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours on this Feast. They came from the pen of this strong woman of God who found her strength in a deep communion with God:

Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consume, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. (St. Catherine of Sienna)

Yet, like all the saints, this extraordinary woman, came from an ordinary background. That is why knowing her story helps us to understand that the power of the Holy Spirit can transform all who surrender themselves completely to the Lord in this day.

Let us consider her life, and choose to learn the Way of the Lord from her example. 

Born in 1347, Catherine Benincasa was the twenty-fifth child born to Giacomo and Lapa Benincasa. Her father Giacomo was a wealthy businessman. Her mother, as one can imagine, had her days-and nights-filled with caring for twenty-five children!

At the age of six, young Catherine was walking home when she saw Jesus seated in glory. Accompanying Him were members of the heavenly family, the Church triumphant-Peter, Paul, and John.

It was on that day that young Catherine decided to surrender her whole life to the Lord in prayer and service to the Church.

Catherine's parents wanted her to marry. Like most parents, they wanted their daughter to have the best life that they could provide. They presumed that meant marriage and motherhood.

At first, they resisted young Catherine's desire to surrender the joys of marriage for her greatest desire, the life of remaining celibate out of love.

Catherine wanted to give her whole life in a prophetic witness of the life to come. She desired to forsake marriage to one man for marriage to Christ and His Church.  A life wholly surrendered and consecrated to God and His Church.

But, over time, like many parents of saints and heroes of the faith, they began to see the finger of God working in their daughter's life. They could not stand in the way. In fact, they began to pave the way in prayer.

At the age of sixteen, Catherine chose the way of another hero of the faith, Dominic, in responding to the grace of her vocation. He had left a way of life for all who sought to live what the church has called the "evangelical counsels", the Dominican Order.

Catherine became a tertiary (lay follower) of the Dominican rule. She embraced a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

She lived this response to the Gospel while still living with her family. Catherine understood that the mission field is often found in our own backyard!

She first reached out and cared for those whom others avoided in the hospital located in Sienna, her own hometown. She, like so many other saints and heroes throughout the history of the Church, believed that Jesus hid Himself in the face and the wounds of the poor.

She preferred the lepers and the cancer patients, loving them with the love of the Crucified One whom she loved. Then the Lord gave her sisters-women who recognized that Catherine was a servant of the Servant, Jesus Christ. They began to walk the way of the Lord with her.

When the plague broke out in Sienna, one of her friends wrote: She was always with the plague-stricken. She prepared them for death; she buried them with her own hands. I myself witnessed the joy with which she nursed them and how effective her words were.

Catherine regularly frequented the prisons and loved to work with those preparing for execution. One of the many stories told of her concerns one prisoner, whom she led to faith and baptism.

Having heard he was afraid to die, she wanted him to experience the love of Jesus so much that she stayed with him, holding his head even as he was executed, so that he would die encountering the love of God, manifested in a follower of His Son, Jesus Christ!

Catherine's reputation for holiness spread throughout Italy. Her wisdom and ability to bring true reconciliation and authentic peace to hostile parties led to her being sought out by families and political leaders who were at odds with one another.

That same gift was offered, as were all of her gifts, to the Church. Rome, the center of Western Christianity, had fallen into decay. The pope was in Avignon in the South of France.

Though the Church was struggling, Catherine remained loyal. She referred to the pope as the "sweet Christ on earth." Having heard from the Lord in prayer that the pope must return to Rome in order to begin the needed reforms of the Church, she courageously advised Pope Gregory (and sought the support of every cardinal who would receive her letters) that he must return to Rome!

In 1377, Gregory did return. When he died the next year, Urban VI was elected in Rome and a rival, Clement VII, installed in Avignon. A time of great upheaval, division, and suffering-known as the Great Schism- swept the Church.

Catherine's heart broke over the divisions in the body of Christ. She persevered in prayer and continued her counsel to all who would listen: pope, cardinals, kings, princes and bishops.

In January of 1380, while praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her own shoulders, and she offered herself and her suffering as a "victim" for the renewal of the Church.

On April 29 of that same year, around midday, God called her to Himself. Days before her death, she wrote, "If I die, let it be known that I die ... of passion for the Church." Her deathbed prayer is a model of love poured out for all who follow Jesus Christ and desire the healing and unity of the Church in our day:

Oh eternal God, receive the sacrifice of my own life on behalf of the mystical Body of Holy Church. I have nothing else to give except what You have given me.

Catherine was a prolific letter writer. At least 400 of her letters have survived. Leaders of church and state regularly sought out her wisdom, even though she was never formally educated and only learned to read and write as an adult.

She wrote only one book, Dialogue, which is an ongoing account of her intimate conversational relationship with the Lord whom she loved so intimately. She considered herself espoused to Him.

It was at the age of thirty-three, the same age at which Jesus offered Himself on the altar of the Cross, that Catherine was called home to the Father.

Companions of Catherine regularly noted how she maintained her joy, even in suffering, and her femininity, even in her dogged and courageous contending with Church leaders!

Her witness of life and her extraordinary letters became a great influence on another woman hero of the faith, Teresa of Avila. Teresa of Avila credited her own call to spiritual progress (in addition to the influence of the Lord Himself) to the prayers and example of Catherine.

Pius II canonized Catherine. Pius IX declared her, along with Francis of Assisi, the second patron of Italy. In 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Giacomo and Lapa Benincasa's twenty-fifth child, never formally educated, a "Doctor of the Church." 

That title speaks to us of a profound truth. It is intimacy with the Lord which makes men and women theologians, not necessarily formal academic study. Though it is desirable, it is prayer and communion with the Lord which is most important.

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour what she did in her own.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Following Ferguson shooting, police departments rush to adopt body cameras Watch

Image of The purchasing of body cameras by police departments nationwide has increased dramatically following the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Whether you believe the story told by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, or by the family of Michael Brown, it is certain that the case has changed the face of law enforcement in America. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of body cameras by police ... continue reading


Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
1 After this, I saw another angel come down from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 27th, 2014 Image

St. James Intercisus
November 27: James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter