St Catherine

Novena to St Catherine – Day 9

  The theme of ‘newness’ is woven into the Mass Readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter – ‘a new heaven and new earth; the new Jerusalem, a new creation’ and in the Gospel Jesus speaks of a ‘new commandment’.  At the Episcopal Ordination of our new coadjutor Archbishop on Sunday last, both he and Cardinal Brady commented on Archbishop Eamon’s motto: ‘Sing a new song to the Lord.’  To quote Archbishop Eamon “the new song is a song of love, that God unconditionally loves each one of us, despite our sinfulness and imperfections, and that the Lamb of God, who suffered and died to take away the sins of the world, has mercy on us.” But we must ensure that “it is the Lord’s song that we are singing, and not simply our own composition” and “we must sing in harmony with one another”  and our “new song must never dilute the strength of Christ’s message but must capture faithfully the timeless truth of the Gospel. And that can only happen if we live in communion with Christ and with one another”  In The Dialogue, Chapter 64 Catherine outlines what the Heavenly Father taught her about love of God and love of neighbour and provides us with a recipe for putting into practice this new commandment of love.  I quote: “If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbour’s love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain, if you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty; indeed […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 7

On this 7th day of our Novena, I would like to share an extract from “The Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Raymond of Capua”.  Blessed Raymond was St. Catherine’s Confessor and Spiritual Director. It illustrates St. Catherine’s love of the Blessed Eucharist and her frequent reception of it at a time when that was not common practice in the Church.“All who knew Catherine were well aware of her profound and characteristic reverence and devotion towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Body of our Lord.  She received the Sacrament so frequently that it was popularly reported that the “maiden Catherine receives Holy Communion every day,” and that she lived and kept up her strength on it without taking any other food.  Although in saying this they were not quite correct, still I believe they spoke in good faith, and to the honour of God, who always shows himself wonderful in his saints.  The fact was that Catherine did receive Holy Communion with heartfelt devotion, not indeed every day, but frequently.  For this reason certain people whom I must refer to in the biblical phrase as “satraps of the Philistines” rather than as Christian believers in this regard, murmured against the frequency of  her communions.  But I took up her defence against them and they could not rebut the arguments I gave.  I routed them with the words and the actions of the holy Fathers and of holy Church herself.”“So great sometimes was her longing for Communion that, on occasions on which she had to go without it, her frail body went through more suffering than if she had been suffering intense pain or fever for days at a time.   All that bodily distress […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 6

 In this Year of Faith, St. Catherine’s teaching on faith in the following letter can be helpful to all of us as we ponder her words: Letter T 31 to Madonna MitarellaMarch 1373 In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.Dearest and very loved mother and sister in Christ gentle Jesus, I Caterina, useless servant of Jesus Christ, send you greetings and encouragement in his precious blood. I long to see you a faithful servant in God’s sight, firm in the faith that gives joy and happiness to our soul. We must have the sort of faith our Saviour spoke of: “If you had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed and you commanded this mountain, it would move.” I beg you, dearest sister, to keep living in this faith.You wrote me that because of what has happened, you are placing your faith and confidence only in the prayers of God’s servants. I beg you then, in the name of God and of our gentlest love Jesus Christ, to stand firm in this sweet holy faith. Oh sweet life-giving faith! If you persevere in that faith, sadness will never overtake your heart. For sadness comes only from putting our trust in creatures. But creatures are frail, lifeless things that sooner or later fail, and our heart can never rest except in what is stable and secure. When we set our heart on other people it is not set on anything stable, for a human being is alive today and tomorrow is dead. So, if we wish to have peace we must rest our heart and soul with faith and love in Christ crucified. Only then will our soul find […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 5

The Prayer of St. Catherine on which I am reflecting  today, is a typically Trinitarian one, calling on the Father as Power the Son as Wisdom and the Holy Spirit as Mercy.  Its concerns reflect St. Catherine’s pre-occupation:  Peace and unity for the Church, mercy for the world and the people to whom she was ministering, and strength for herself in the tension under which she found herself working.  PRAYERPower of the eternal Father, help me!Wisdom of the Son, enlighten the eye of my understanding!Tender Mercy of the Holy Spirit, enflame my heart and unite it to yourself!I proclaim, eternal God, `that your power is powerful and strong enough to free your Church and your people, to snatch us from the devil’s hand,to stop the persecution of Holy Church, and to give me strength and victory over my own enemies.I proclaim that the wisdom of your Son, who is one with you, can enlighten the eye of my understandingand that of your people,and can relieve the darkness of your sweet bride.And I proclaim, eternal gentle goodness of God, that the mercy of the Holy Spirit, your blazing charity, wants to enflame my heart and everyone’s and unite them with yourself.Power of you, eternal Father,wisdom of your only begotten Son in his precious blood;mercy of the Holy Spirit,fire and deep well of charitythat beheld this Son of yours fixed and nailed to the cross-you know how toand you canand you want to, so I plead with you:have mercy on the world and restore the warmth of charityand peace and unity to holy Church.O me!      I wish you would not delay any longer!I beg you, let your infinite goodness force younot to close the […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 4

Reflection on Charity – from the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, Chap. 148 Enlarge your heart, daughter, and open your mind’s eye to the light of faith. See with what great love and providence I have created and ordained humankind to rejoice in my supreme eternal reward. I have provided everything in soul and body, for the imperfect and the perfect, for the good and the bad, spiritually and temporally, in heaven and on earth, in this mortal life and in the immortal.In this mortal life, so long as you are pilgrims, I have bound you with the chain of charity. Whether you want it or not, you are so bound. If you should break loose by not wanting to live in charity for your neighbors, you will still be bound by it by force. Thus, that you may practice charity in action and in will, I in my providence did not give to any one person or to each individually the knowledge for doing everything necessary for human life. No, I gave something to one, something else to another, so that each one’s need would be a reason to have recourse to the other. So though you may lose your will for charity because of your wickedness, you will at least be forced by your own need to practice it in action. Thus you see the artisan turn to the worker and the worker to the artisan: Each has need of the other because neither knows how to do what the other does. So also the cleric and religious have need of the layperson, and the layperson of the religious; neither can get along without the other. And so with everything else.Could I […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 2

Today is the 2nd day of the novena to St Catherine. It is also Vocation Sunday. So during the week as I was reflecting on St Catherine I had the theme of Vocations in mind also and today’s Gospel-‘I know my own and mine know me’. Somehow these converged for me in a single Gospel text-‘This is Eternal Life to know you the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’.This is the reason for our existence. This is why God created us, why He sent His Son to redeem us- so that we might know God, might participate in the very life of God, might experience being utterly and completely taken up into God’s love and be endlessly happy. The vocation of every human being is to fulfil this purpose for which we were brought into being. Our personal vocation is to discover and to follow the path marked out for us, to follow that path until we reach our destination and are one with God forever.Catherine with this end always in view, travelled the way with single minded resolution, and in doing so brought many with her. The rest of us-well sometimes our eyes get heavy, our vision falters, we become somewhat short sighted and the things around us seem more attractive than the distant scene. We let our gaze roam, the bye ways beckon and we leave the way to explore alternative routes. Sometimes we even get lost.On this vocation Sunday let us listen to Catherine reminding us of what we are about. Let the fire of her love set us alight, that aglow with the love of God, we might light up the way for others.Catherine was utterly […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena, 2013 – Day 1

During the Novena to St Catherine, each evening before Vespers a sister shares a reflection or some extracts from her writings. We are happy to share these with our readers during the coming days.Day 1Recently we experienced the great joy of the Election of Pope Francis following the Retirement of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and as today we begin our Novena in preparation for St. Catherine’s Feast day, I was reflecting on her deep concern and zeal for the Papacy in her particular time of the Church’s history.For many eras, the Church has been truly blessed with wonderful Popes, each with his own personality and God given gifts has been one hundred per cent dedicated in responding to his high calling from God.   Pope Francis, no less than his predecessors faces  so many difficulties in our own particular historical situation both in the Church and in our world.  Surely we can with great confidence invoke the powerful intercession of St. Catherine to plead for the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit which our Holy Father Francis, needs in his daily ministry..  Each successive Pope has had to face much criticism not only by the media but sadly at times from his own flock for what he has or has not done, or what some people think he has or has not done..  Yet at the same time, I think it is true to say, that the Popes of our own times have been deeply appreciated and looked up to by a great majority of people of all races, colours and creeds.  They have been very prayerful Shepherds whose hearts have bled for suffering humanity, for the peoples suffering war, violence of so many kinds, abuse, […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day Nine

We have come to the final reflection of our novena in preparation for the feast of St Catherine. By happy co-incidence today is also what has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday when we pray for the Church and in particular for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.The readings at Mass this morning reminded us of the immensity of God’s love for each of us– St John in his first letter reminds us that we are the beloved children of God and in the Gospel Jesus tells us no less then five times that he freely lays down his life for us. In a letter to Daniella da Orvieta Catherine reminded her of the love in which we were created and the even greater love by which we were redeemed in the precious Blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Love of this immensity calls for our response.  Catherine’s whole life was given for the glory of God and the salvation of her brothers and sisters and she encouraged others to follow her example – she continues to speak to us today through her letter to Daniella:“I Catherine, long to see you bathed and drowned in the blood of Jesus Christ crucified.  There you will find the fire of divine charity; there you will experience your soul’s beauty and its great dignity.  For God, when he looked within Himself, fell in love with the beauty of His creature and like one drunk with love, created us in His own image and likeness.  ……  how right that we should immerse ourselves in the Blood of our Saviour in order to better conceive love for God’s honour and the salvation of souls………Now is the […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 8

From ‘The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Saint Catherine of Siena’, taken from ‘Que Dijo Dios al Volver’ of Dominican Nuns of Olmedo, Spain; transl by Dominican Nuns of Buffalo, New York.The fidelity of St. Catherine led her to the practice of the loftiest and most heroic virtues.    Nevertheless, we know that the virtues in a heroic degree cannot be practiced by the soul of itself. The action of the Holy Spirit is needed.    But God does not let Himself be out-done in generosity, and if the soul does what it can, God does all that He wishes and He perfects the soul, leading it to the heights.    The GIFTS — herein is the secret.    We cannot move them of ourselves; we know this.    This seven-fold instrument needs a most delicate touch, so to speak.    The Holy Spirit alone is their Artist.    But the Holy Spirit was not given to us for nothing. He acts; and if He is impeded, “He groans with unspeakable groanings”, wishing to move His gifts; and He does move them freely.    We cannot make the gifts act but we can paralyze them — tragic power that we have when we wrongly use this great gift of our freedom!    St. Catherine of Siena gave the Holy Spirit full freedom in her soul, and the Holy Spirit unfurled His powerful sails in our virgin’s little boat.The Gift of Fear    Let us look into the supernatural and divine effects caused in her soul by the gifts.    At first sight, we see that the Gift of Fear is very pronounced in her soul.   The experience of being Nothing is, in St. Catherine, something out of the ordinary. It is not that she […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 7

St Catherine’s prayer to the Father (From: The Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, No. 134)You said, eternal Father, that because of your love for your creatures, and through the prayers and innocent suffering of your servants, you would be merciful to the world and reform holy Church, and thus give us refreshment. Do not wait any longer, then, to turn the eye of your mercy. Because it is your will to answer us before we call, answer now with the voice of your mercy.Open the door of your immeasurable charity, which you have given us in the door of the Word. Yes, I know that you open before we knock, because your servants knock and call out to you with the very love and affection you gave them, seeking honour and the salvation of souls. Give them the bread of life, the fruit of the blood of your only-begotten Son, which they are begging of you for the glory and praise of your name and for the salvation of souls. For it would seem you would receive more glory and praise by saving so many people than by letting them stubbornly persist in their hardness. To you, eternal Father, everything is possible. Though you created us without our help, it is not your will to save us without our help. So I beg you to force their wills and dispose them to want what they do not want. I ask this of your infinite mercy. You created us out of nothing. So, now that we exist, be merciful and remake the vessels you created and formed in your image and likeness; re-form them to grace in the mercy and blood of your Son.