Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/29/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More U.S.

The shocking NEW reason why young people are leaving church Watch

Image of The youth are leaving the church, but why?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It's a surprising find, but it's also true. Americans are giving up on God. A Pew survey reveals that half of the people who have quit going to church no longer believe in God. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nearly a quarter of the nation no longer attends ... continue reading


Massachusetts nun loses rosary to lesbian couple Watch

Image of Lesbian muggers rob nun of her rosary beads.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Sister at the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth convent was mugged by a lesbian couple, who left with the nun's rosary. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the <a ... continue reading


'Right Before I Die': Photographer reveals heartbreaking truth on taboo topic Watch

Image of One photographer captured people's dreams as they drew closer to death (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Photographer Andrew George decided to interview and photograph people close to death for a project titled "Right Before I Die." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - George's project earned an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and he explained the ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: Jesus Walks with Us on the Dusty Road of Life Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We can learn a vital lesson from this account in the Gospel of Luke; one which can radically reorient our entire life. Jesus is always with us. He accompanies us on the Way of our daily life because He IS the Way. (John 14:6) But, we need our eyes to be opened. ... continue reading


Marian procession to commemorate birthday of Los Angeles Watch

Image of Los Angeles will hold a Marian procession and a votive Mass for the city's 235th anniversary.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The city of Los Angeles will get a Marian procession to mark its 235th anniversary on August 27. The city is named after Our Lady. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The city of Los Angeles has a very long name. Officially, the city is known as, "The Town of Our ... continue reading


Government finally admits truth about Area 51 Watch

Image of A truck transports a mysterious, covered object to Area 51 under tight security.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Daily Mail has posted pictures of the mysterious fleet of planes that flies workers into Area 51. Area 51 is the secret Air Force facility that is rumored to house alien technology. The existence of the base was only recently acknowledged. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


We Are ALL Called to Labor in the Vineyard of the Lord Watch

Image of A Vineyard

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Do we see the Church as Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present in His mystical Body, into whom we have been Baptized and now live? Do we, like those early believers, understand that to belong to Christ is to belong to His Body and seek to bring the whole world ... continue reading


Obama releases 15 more terror detainees. Here's how many they expect to return to terror Watch

Image of Obama has pledged to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. He has failed to do so.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Obama has shipped 15 terror detainees to the United Arab Emirates for release. It is unlikely Obama will be able to close the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - President Obama has released 15 more terror ... continue reading


Terrorism in Milwaukee? - Black Panther Party speaks out Watch

Image of Milwaukee police hold a standoff with protesters following a fatal  police shooting.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The so-called "national minister of defense" for the People's New Black Panther Party claims Milwaukee police are intentionally attacking black men and women in an act of terrorism. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to <a ... continue reading


Cardinal George explains how gay marriage is like Sharia Law Watch

Image of Cardinal George explains how the gay marriage lobby enforces their Sharia Law on the rest of us.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 2014 column by Cardinal George has resurfaced, referring to gay marriage as a form of "Sharia Law." LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Cardinal George in 2014 explained that the gay marriage movement was similar to Sharia Law in some respects. The comparison is ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 21:9-14
9 One of the seven angels that had the seven bowls full of the seven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, John 1:45-51
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 24th, 2016 Image

St. Bartholomew
August 24: St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12. ... Read More