Friday, 30 April 2010
Feast of St Catherine of Siena
Today is the feast of doctor of the Church, St Catherine of Siena OP (and my name saint).
St Catherine is one of those female saints who (along with Blessed Mary Mckillop, St Hildegarde and others) scare a certain type of priest unfortunately not uncommon amongst the traditionally inclined: I once heard a sermon on her feast day urging us (especially the women) to ignore her charismatic gifts (her mysticism; her extensive correspondence with Popes, Emperors and Kings; and her mediation work) and instead imitate her (extreme) asceticism.
It's not advice that could be considered mainstream - for a start, St Catherine's asceticism, which included subsisting for long periods only on the blessed sacrament and taking the discipline up to three times a day (at times in direct disobedience to her spiritual director) is normally regarded as a special vocation, appropriate only to the very few explicitly called to such extremes.
In fact, St Catherine should rather remind us that we are all called to some degree to asceticism, but also to exercize an active role in the world to some degree, particularly in difficult times for the Church such as these. Not that we are all called on to correct the Pope (he surely has quite enough people attempting to tell him what to do!) or other world leaders. But nonetheless, she should remind us that not only must we all engage in works of charity, but also that we must not shirk from speaking up and doing what is necessary to address what is happening in our world and in the Church within our own particular spheres, competencies and callings.