Monday, April 29, 2013

St Catherine of Siena by Fr James Martin sj

St. Catherine of Siena, the Doctor of the Church whose feast we celebrate today, was one in a long line of redoubtable saints who called the church to reform. She was also one of the saints whose manifest holiness allowed her to speak the truth to power--not for her own benefit, but for the good of the church she loved so much.
In the 14th century, for example, Catherine wrote the pope, then living in exile in Avignon, France, urging him to return to his ministry in Rome: "Be a man!" she said. "Father, I say to you: Arise!" To a group of corrupt cardinals in Rome, she wrote, "You are flowers that shed no perfume, but a stench that makes the whole world reek." When they asked how she could possibly make this judgment from her far-off post, Catherine replied that the smell reached all the way to Siena.
St. Catherine of Siena gives lie to the widely held stereotype of the docile, simpering, shrinking-violet saint, and the stereotype of the saint who never finds herself in conflict with anyone in church leadership. Other saints brought about change in the church in less confrontational but no less effective ways, but Catherine felt she that could not remain silent. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!

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