Thought for the Day – 29 April – Fifth Sunday of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church
Catherine of Siena is one of the most remarkable figures of the fourteenth century and had an influence far beyond her holiness of life. She took part in the politics of both Church and State and was a beacon of light in a very difficult time.
The mystical experiences that were to last throughout her whole life and an intimacy with her Saviour that transformed her whole existence began when she was but six years old. She grew up, known for cheerfulness and merriment, with no indication of the astonishing role she was to play in the work of the Church.
In 1364, she became a member of the Third Order of St Dominic and from this time her influence began to grow in Siena as she gathered around her a circle of followers. She began dictating letters to this circle and to take part in public affairs. (She had never learnt to write, which was not uncommon for women in that era). In 1374, she began to interest herself in furthering a crusade against the Turks and in the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome. In 1376, she went to Avignon to urge Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. With her encouragement, he did but died shortly thereafter. In 1375, whilst on a trip to Pisa, she received the Stigmata.
Pope Gregory’s successor, Urban VI, so alienated the Cardinals who elected him, that they decided to elect another pope. This was the beginning of the Great Western Schism in which two and later three, popes, divided the allegiance of Christendom. Catherine was shattered by this division in the Church and went to Rome to work for the reunification of the Church.
Burdened with sorrow and offering herself for the unity of the Church, Catherine died in Rome on 29 April 1380. She left a huge collection of letters as well as her chief work, The Dialogues.
By the sheer force of her personality, St Catherine converted thousands and the mere sight of her would convert hardened sinners. We may not have her personality but we can reach into the lives of others and influence them for good. We cannot have warmth ourselves, without giving it to others. “Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’...Luke 24:32
Sunday Reflection -– 29 April – Fifth Sunday of Eastertide: Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15:1-8.
“Without Me you can do nothing” John 15:5
“In Christ it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell.” (Col 1:19) He is gifted with those supernatural powers that accompany the hypostatic union, since the Holy Spirit dwells in Him with a fullness of grace than which no greater can be imagined. To Him has been given “power over all flesh”; (Jn 17:2)… . From Him streams into the body of the Church all the light with which those who believe are divinely illumined, and all the grace by which they are made holy as He is holy…
It is He who imparts the light of faith to believers; it is He who enriches pastors and teachers and above all His Vicar on earth with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of faith, defend it vigorously and explain it and confirm it with reverence and devotion. Finally, it is He who, though unseen, presides at the Councils of the Church and guides them…
Holiness begins from Christ and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source. “Without me,” He says, “you can do nothing.”(Jn 15:5) If we grieve and do penance for our sins if, with filial fear and hope, we turn again to God, it is because He is leading us. Grace and glory flow from His inexhaustible fullness…
When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls. He nourishes the redeemed with His own flesh and blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies.
Christ our Lord wills the Church to live His own supernatural life and by His divine power permeates His whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members according to the place which they occupy in the body, in the same way as the vine nourishes and makes fruitful the branches which are joined to it. (cf. Jn 15:4-6).
Venerable Pius XII (1976-1958) Pope from 1939 to 1958
Encyclical “Mystici Corporis”
Quote/s of the Day – 29 April – Fifth Sunday of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church
“Proclaim the Truth and do not be silent through fear.”
“Preach the Truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”
“Nothing great is ever achieved, without much enduring.”
“All the way to heaven is heaven because Jesus said, “I am the way.”
“Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realise instead, that in Christ crucified, you can do everything.”
“Strange that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstandings of God’s true nature. God’s heart is more gentle than the Virgin’s first kiss upon the Christ. And God’s forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being.”
“Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.”
“A soul cannot live without loving. It must have something to love, for it was created to love.”
“He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross and you will find yourself entirely.”
“What is it you want to change? Your hair, your face, your body? Why? For God is in love with all those things and He might weep when they are gone!”
St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 29 April – Fifth Sunday of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’….Matthew 25:40
REFLECTION – “Charity is the sweet and holy bond which links the soul with its Creator: it binds God with man and man with God.”…. St Catherine of Siena
PRAYER – Almighty God, You made St Catherine of Siena, a contemplative lover of the Lord’s sufferings and an ardent servant of her neighbour and the Church. Grant that through her prayer, Your people may be united to Christ in His Mystery and true lovers of His sheep. May we live the commands He gave us and see His face in our neighbour. Through Jesus, our Lord, one God with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 29 April – Fifth Sunday of Eastertide
An Act of Confidence Before Holy Mass By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
My soul expand your heart.
Your Jesus can do You every good
and indeed, love you.
Hope for great things from Your Lord,
who, urged by love,
comes all love to You.
Yes, my dear Jesus, my hope,
I trust in Your goodness,
that in giving Yourself to me this morning,
You will enkindle in my poor heart,
the beautiful flame of Your pure love
and a real desire to please You,
so that, from this day forward,
I may never will anything
but what You will.
Saint of the Day – 29 April – St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church, Virgin, Stigmatist, Mystic, Scholastic Philosopher and Theologian, Writer, Reformer, Adviser, Mediator, Dominican Tertiary. St Catherine was born Caterina Benincasa on 25 March 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy and died on 29 April 1380 in Rome, Italy of a mysterious and painful illness that came on without notice and was never diagnosed. Her body was buried in the Dominican church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The first funerary monument was erected in 1380 by Blessed Raymond of Capua, her relics were re-enshrined in 1430 and again in 1466, at the high altar of the church. She was Canonised in July 1461 by Pope Pius II.
Patronages – against bodily ills, against fire, against illness, against miscarriages, against sexual temptation, against sickness, against temptations, fire prevention, firefighters, nurses, nursing services, people ridiculed for their piety, sick people, joint patron of Europe with St Benedict of Nursia, St Gertrude of Sweden, Sts Cyril & Methodius and St Edith Stein,3 dioceses, Siena, joint patron of Italy, with St Francis of Assisi, Varazze, Italy.Caterina Benincasa was born in Siena on 25 March 1347, the last of 25 children of the wealthy wool-dyer Jacopo Benincasa and Lapa di Puccio dé Piacenti.
At the age of six, Catherine received her first vision, near the Church of San Domenico. From this moment onwards the child began to follow a path of devotion, taking the oath of chastity only a year later. After initial resistance from her family, eventually her father gave in and left Catherine to follow her inclinations. In 1363, at just 15 years of age, Catherine donned the black cloak of the Dominican Tertiary sisters. In 1367 she began working tirelessly to help the sick at the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.As her fame spread throughout Christendom, during a visit to the city of Pisa, Catherine received the stigmata from a wooden cross hanging in the Church of Santa Cristina. Her many travels abroad to act as mediator for the Papacy included a trip to Avignon, where she urged Pope Gregory to bring the Papal Court back to Rome from its exile in France.
On returning to Siena, Catherine founded the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the castle of Belcaro. With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, his successor Urban VI had to face strong opposition from a number of cardinals who had elected a second Pope with the name of Clement VII, thereby provoking what would later come to be termed the Great Schism of the West. Pope Urban VI called on Catherine to act as mediator with princes, politicians and members of the Church, with a view to legitimising his election.
In 1380, at just 33, Catherine died and was buried in the Rome church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. In 1461 Pope Pius II proclaimed her saint and in 1866 Pius IX included her as one of the patron saints of Rome. In 1939, along with St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena was proclaimed patron saint of Italy by Pope Pius XII.
In 1970 Paul VI conferred the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on Catherine and in 1999 she was proclaimed co-patron saint of Europe by Pope John Paul II.
Catherine of Siena is one of the outstanding figures of medieval Catholicism, by the strong influence she has had in the history of the papacy. She is behind the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome and then carried out many missions entrusted by the pope, something quite rare for a simple nun in the Middle Ages.
Her writings—and especially The Dialogue, her major work which includes a set of treatises she would have dictated during ecstasies—mark theological thought. She is one of the most influential writers in Catholicism, to the point that she is one of only four women to be declared a doctor of the Church. This recognition by the Church consecrates the importance of her writings.
St Catherine’s home now known as The Sanctuary of St Catherine is a major Pilgrimage Site in Siena. The architecture of this sanctuary dedicated to Saint Catherine isn’t entirely original but the atmosphere definitely is. As are many of the objects that belonged to the saint. The rooms have been altered a lot since 1461, when the house was bought by the city of Siena and transformed into a museum. The idea wasn’t faithful architectural conservation but rather preserving her honour and memory, hence the eclectic art collection celebrating her life and work. It’s a sensitive place, full of religious passion and historical references and well reflects the extraordinary life of this woman.
The Oratory of the Bedroom: this houses the small cubicle where Catherine rested and prayed and the stone where the saint would lay her head. This space is connected with the first phase of Catherine’s life, where she would withdraw from the world in contemplation. Images below.
Church of the Crucifix: The church is home to the wooden crucifix from which Saint Catherine received the stigmata, an event which took place in Pisa, where Catherine had gone in 1375 to persuade the Lords of the city to shun the anti-papal league. The stigmata remained visible only to the Saint for the rest of her life, miraculously appearing at the moment of her death.
Abbots of Cluny: A feast that recognizes the great and saintly early abbots of Cluny Abbey:
• Saint Aymardus of Cluny
• Saint Berno of Cluny
• Saint Hugh of Cluny
• Saint Mayeul
• Saint Odilo of Cluny
• Saint Odo of Cluny
• Saint Peter the Venerable
St Antonius Kim Song-u
St Ava of Denain
St Daniel of Gerona
St Endellion of Tregony
St Fiachan of Lismore
St Hugh of Cluny
St Gundebert of Gumber
St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo
St Paulinus of Brescia
St Peter Verona
Bl Robert Gruthuysen
St Senan of Wales
St Severus of Naples
St Torpes of Pisa
St Wilfrid the Younger
Martyrs of Cirta: A group of clergy and laity martyred together in Cirta, Numidia (in modern Tunisia) in the persecutions of Valerian. They were – Agapius, Antonia, Emilian, Secundinus and Tertula, along with a woman and her twin children whose names have not come down to us.
Martyrs of Corfu: A gang of thieves who converted while in prison, brought to the faith by Saint Jason and Saint Sosipater who were had been imprisoned for evangelizing. When the gang announced their new faith, they were martyred together. They were – Euphrasius, Faustianus, Insischolus, Januarius, Mammius, Marsalius and Saturninus. They were boiled in oil and pitch in the 2nd century on the Island of Corcyra (modern Corfu, Greece.
Also known as:
• Martyrs of Corcyra
• Seven Holy Thieves
• Seven Holy Robbers
• Seven Robber Saints