Readings for April 29 Catherine of Siena 1380 from The Great Cloud of Witnesses
Readings from Common of Saints
“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12)
It is the greatest of my pleasures to bring to some reader’s attention the precious saints that gave their lives in witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Such a saint is Catherine of Siena whom we remember this day. From the Great Cloud of Witnesses we learn that she was the youngest of 25 children and was a sickly child. However she was dedicated to loving Jesus from very early in her childhood. And with various conflicts with her family about her choice of vocation, she was finally allowed to pursue a life of contemplation.
What really amazed me about Catherine is the part she played in an attempt to re-unify the Church of Rome during her day. “During the great schism of the papacy, with rival popes in Rome and Avignon, Catherine wrote tirelessly to princes, kings, and popes, urging them to restore the unity of the Church. She even went to Rome to press further for the cause.” (From The Great Cloud of Witnesses) Now she was not clergy. But as a committed and vowed lay person she acted as directed by God to bring the faithful leadership back to Rome.
For me, she is reminiscent of Moses who was sent to Pharaoh in Egypt for the benefit of the enslaved Israelites. It seems God always uses some of us, not for our own benefit but for the benefit of the many. Catherine was just such a person. She, and we, could say the same thing that Moses said, “who are we that we should try to fix the problems of the church or the world?” But God reminds us as God reminded Moses, “I will be with you.” With God with us we are in good shape no matter what it may look like in worldly terms. We should not fear trouble or even death. God brings us back from death to live and love for all eternity. We just need to do the best works we can in this life.
“Besides her many letters to all manner of people, Catherine wrote a Dialogue, a mystical work dictated in ecstasy. Exhausted and paralyzed, she died at the age of thirty-three.” (From The Great Cloud of Witnesses)
Catherine got out of the way of God working in her young life. I wish I had the visions she received from Jesus. Then again, there are great responsibilities associated with receiving such visions. Perhaps I should be careful of what I ask for. Nah, give me the vision Lord and I’ll do the work you give me to do. Amen.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.