Friday, April 29, 2011

Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena and Vocation

The Dominican family throughout the world will today (April 29th) celebrate the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena. She was born into a prosperous urban family, the 23rd of 25 children. She received no formal education and resolved at an early age to remain a virgin for Christ. 

At the age of 16 she became a lay Dominican and received the habit, as was the custom at the time. She dedicated her life to helping the poor, and was a voice for reform within the Church.The Western Schism (1378-1418) was a source of great suffering for her till her death.

In her writings, or rather those she dictated because she never learned how to write, she details her mystical experiences, her visions of Jesus, of hell, purgatory and heaven. Her major work is the Dialogue of Divine Providence. She died in Rome in 1380, was canonised in 1461, and was declared Doctor of the Church in 1970.

Saint Catherine is the inspiration of many who consider the religious vocation. Her writings, let alone the example of her life, show a deep desire for intimacy with Christ. This is the first motivation for anyone contemplating life as a religious - that deep desire to know the Lord more intimately, and then in typical Dominican fashion to preach from that relationship.

The following quotes attributed to Saint Catherine of Siena will illustrate this. 

O Eternal God, receive the sacrifice of my life, in this Mystical Body of Holy Church. I have nothing to give, save what You have given me. (Prayer of Saint Catherine) 

I turn and lean towards the most holy cross of Christ crucified, and there I will fasten myself. (Letters of Saint Catherine) 

To the servant of God.....every place is the right place, and every time is the right time. (Letters of Saint Catherine)

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