In the age of confusion and Modernism, here’s a Saint whose life and works are worth meditating on.
From Catholic Insight:
“So goes the old saying- the Church is always in need of reform- now, perhaps, more than ever- and one of her greatest reformers was not a Pope, nor a bishop, nor a man, but a woman of great holiness, character and strength, a Dominican tertiary, who lived ‘in the world’, but most definitely not ‘of the world’
She was the 22nd child (!) of Lapa, the daughter of a local poet, and Giacomo di Benincasa- a cloth dyer; Catherine, who developed into a healthy child, had a twin girl, Giovanna, who died soon after birth. The Benincasas ended up with 25 (!!) children- this was a time- which went up unto modern times – when large families were seen as a ‘great blessing’. Alas, half of Catherine’s siblings died in infancy. ‘Twas good that families were so large, for the plague of the Black Death 1347-51 hit in the year that Catherine was born.
Catherine was an early example of speaking truth to authority, sparing no pains nor ‘standing on ceremony’. Yet, unlike the future ‘Reformers’ of the sixteenth century, she stayed within the Church she loved (what would one do without the Eucharist?).
Her letters urging the Holy Father, Gregory XI, that he must return the papacy to Rome, replete with dire threats she heard from God if he refused, might shock us with their boldness and forthrightness. Yet, Catherine showed that there is nothing wrong with ‘criticising’ the our pastors, Pope and bishops included, so long as it is done with and within reason, respectfully, with charity, good will and a healthy dose of prayer, as the current Code of Canon Law states, quoted the Catechism:
In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons. (CCC, #907; CIC, 212, #3).
Something to ponder more deeply, as our own current crisis continues, and many elements of the Church again caving to secular ideologies.” (Read the whole piece here.)
Saint Catherine of Siena was not afraid to confront scandal or to fight heresy, but she did so without neglecting, but in fact while *deepening* her spiritual life. If you’re looking for an example of how to live the active life of the Faith without slacking in your prayer life, there’s not better a place to start than the life and works of Saint Catherine of Siena.