Friday, April 29, 2016

St. Catherine of Siena, mystic, prophet and activist, walk with us on our journey toward spiritual renewal and justice in our church.

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Bridget Mary's Thoughts:

In one of her mystical experiences, Catherine encountered Christ, who standing outside her door, told her she could serve God by loving others.  "The service you cannot do for me, you must render to your neighbors." As a result, she left her solitary life  and ministered in two nearby hospitals, nursing those raged with disease and comforting the dying. She also counseled prisoners.

Catherine became involved in the political and ecclesiastical affairs of her time. This included feuds between the papacy and the city states, the return of the papacy to Rome,  the reform of the Church and the Great Schism in which both Clement VII and Urban VI claimed to be pope at the same time.  In Avignon, she advocated for the pope's return to Rome. She acted as an advisor to Urban VI, reprimanding him for silencing a friend of hers whose ideas she hoped would bring reform to the church.

Catherine died on April 29, 1380. Today is her feast day.

In 1970  Pope Paul VI declared Catherine of Siena a Doctor of the Church. 

Like Catherine, we are called to be mystics, prophets and activists who love and serve our neighbors, advocate for justice, challenge abuse of power by church authorities, and work for reform, reconciliation and healing. 

In many ways, Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air in our church. He had challenged economic injustice and been a prophet of compassion for the poor and oppressed around the world.

He has also  reached out to groups who were condemned by previous popes.  Francis has extended an olive branch to St. Pius X Community, who rejected Vatican II , and who had ordained their own bishops. He has restored them to good standing in the church. 

It is my hope that Pope Francis will affirm primacy of conscience of Catholics who support gender equality and the ordination of women in the church by dropping all excommunications and ecclesiastical punishments against our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement.  

Today, like in the time of Catherine of Siena, silence in the face of  the domination and the subordination of women, kills the soul. Sexism damages women's lives in our world and leads to abuse, violence and poverty. As Martin Luther King reminded us, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Today we cry out for justice and equality for all the marginalized including women in our own house.  Let us walk  together with our brother Francis in the spirit of our sister, Catherine of Siena, who inspires us all to live as courageous activists and mystical prophets in the community of faith. 

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

(Source: Praying with Visionary Women by Bridget Mary Meehan, published by Sheed and Ward)

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