Category: Member Posts

Pentecost: Breathe On Me Breath Of God ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: ACTS 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: PS 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Reading 2: 1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13
Gospel: JN 20:19-23
Liturgical colour: Red.

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the church. Pentecost Sunday is the Sunday is the
final Sunday before we return to Ordinary time.
Today, the Liturgical colour in the church is red. Now many may see red as being the colour of
Martyrdom since this is the colour we use for martyr feast days, so as this is not a feast of Martyrdom,
why do we wear the Liturgical colour of red today? It is because red has another meaning as well as for
Martyrdom, an extremely important meaning:
We are wearing red today because red is the church liturgical colour of the Holy Spirit. Red is the colour
of fire and symbolizes the presence of God. Just as Moses saw the burning bush as a symbol of God’s
presence, so we wear red today as a symbol of God’s presence with us, but also as a reminder of the
coming of the Spirit on that Pentecost after the resurrection and ascension of Christ.

Most Christians could not imagine having a year go by without celebrating the holidays of Christmas and
Easter. It is understood by all Christians, no matter how long or short their relationship with God and the
church has been that no Christian calendar is complete without the observance of these two events.

However, there is a third observance, a third sacred event that is just as central to our understanding of
what it means to be a Christian and what it means to belong to the church; though most Christians do
not celebrate this event, and many never have heard of it or know little or nothing about it.

That third event is today, Pentecost Sunday. This third great day in the Christian calendar is rooted in the
story in Acts 2 and celebrates the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles who were
gathered in a room in Jerusalem. Before Pentecost, those men were hiding from the public for fear that
what had happened to Jesus might also happen to them. After Pentecost, those frightened men had
become suddenly and miraculously equipped and empowered to carry on the ministry Jesus had
begun—in the very city of Jerusalem where Jesus recently had been put to death.

Some people mistakenly believe the observance of Pentecost has meaning only for those members of
the Christian family who call themselves Pentecostals. The truth is the history of the Christian church
stretches back more than 2,000 years, while the Pentecostal movement did not emerge in its fullness
until the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California., at the turn of the 20th century.

Pentecost began as and remains one of the major holidays on the Jewish calendar that occurs 50 days
after Passover. The word Pentecost literally means “50th or 50th day.” For Jews, Pentecost was the time
when they celebrated the first harvest of the agricultural year. It was a time when they gave thanks to
God for what the land had produced and for what their labor had yielded.

For Christians, Pentecost marks the birthday of the Christian church, the day when Peter preached and
in response to that sermon there was also a harvest of 3,000 souls converted.

Remember I said Peter preached the first sermon about Jesus as recorded in Acts 2. This is the same
Peter who 53 days earlier had said about Jesus; “I never knew Him.” This is the same Peter who had
nothing to say about Jesus when someone asked him directly if he was one of the followers of Jesus.
Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, stood before a crowd of the same people he once feared, yet he boldly
declared the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Going further, Peter stood before many of the same people who had shouted, “Crucify Him,” on the day
Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate in the city of Jerusalem. Now Peter declared in no uncertain terms
the Man they had ordered to be crucified was, in fact, the Son of God. How did Peter go from being
frightened to being fearless? How did Peter go from being cowardly to being courageous? How did Peter
go from denying Jesus to defending Jesus before the very same people in the very same place?

Peter did not simply change his mind; Peter himself was changed. Something happened to Peter and to
the other 10 apostles, as well to set them on fire for Jesus Christ to such a degree that it was soon said
about them, “Here are those who are turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). What happened to
them, and what needs to happen to everyone who calls him or herself a disciple of Jesus Christ is what
Pentecost is all about.

Pentecost marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit by which human beings are equipped to do the work
of God. We are not by our own natural resources going to save the world, establish God’s kingdom or
usher in what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often referred to as “the beloved community.” If any of these
things does happen, it will be because we have acknowledged, embraced and moved under the power
and conviction of Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Consider these three events this way: If Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, Pentecost marks the birth of
the church; if Easter marks the day when Jesus was raised from the dead, Pentecost marks the day when
that message about Jesus began to make its way to people and places all over the world. Of course, the
church and the world do not treat Pentecost as they do Christmas and Easter. For instance, there are no
Pentecost sales, no Pentecost tree, no Pentecost pageant; and I have never heard of the Pentecost
Bunny.

The fact that we have failed to understand or observe this day on the calendar does not change the
basic truth this day holds for every believer. Unless you make room for Pentecost in your understanding
of what it means to be a Christian, you never will understand your faith fully. Remember that in Acts 1:6-
8 Jesus tells the apostles to remain in the city of Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon
them. He was not sending them out to evangelize on the basis of their life experiences or their
understanding of religious laws and teachings. He was not suggesting that spending three years in His
presence had resulted in them being equipped for the work that lay ahead. Instead, He told them to
wait for the power, wait for the anointing, wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Once they had
that power, they would be ready to go. Until that happened—wait!

Pentecost Sunday is the day we remember when and how that anointing took place. While they all were
huddled in a room in Jerusalem behind locked doors and shuttered windows, they heard the sound of a
rushing wind. What appeared to be tongues of fire seemed to settle over the head of each person. They
began to speak in other languages, but what they were saying was understood clearly in the native
language of each person gathered in Jerusalem that day. You see, the power of Pentecost was not the
unknown tongues in which the apostles were speaking. The miracle was that people from every known
region of the world were able to understand what was being said in his or her language.

It was immediately after the miracle of understanding that something else of equal importance took
place: The work of the church in the world as an agent of reconciliation and evangelism began. I invite
you to think about Easter and Christmas as events that involve Jesus as the primary actor. On Christmas,
Jesus was born into the world and laid in a manger. There were no disciples present for that event. What
do you and I do on Christmas that is central to the story? Nothing! On Easter, Jesus was raised from the
dead with all power in His hands. Once again, there were no disciples involved in bringing that event to
pass. There is nothing for us to do on Easter except celebrate and give thanks for the work Christ has
done on our behalf.

On Pentecost, though, all of that changes—you and I are called away from our roles as spectators into
the role of central characters in God’s work of redemption and salvation. As a result of Pentecost, we do
not watch what somebody else is doing for God, but are being equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit
so we can become actively involved in the work of salvation and redemption. That is what Pentecost is
all about; it is the day Jesus officially transfers to His disciples the responsibility of spreading the
message of salvation.

Pentecost is the day when God begins the process of converting the world to faith in the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Most important of all, Pentecost is the day when God decided the way the world would be
evangelized was not by the singular ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ, but by the anointed and
empowered efforts of every single person who calls him or herself a Christian. The time for following
Jesus as a disciple or learner is over, and the time to carry His message forth as apostles has come.
Those disciples were no longer spectators; the time had come for them to do the work themselves.

Think about any event in your life when you began by watching what somebody else was doing, then
suddenly the responsibility to work was passed to you. I can remember how easy it looked to slice the
turkey on Thanksgiving Day when my Uncle James had the carving knife in his hands. He would explain
to us younger fellows what he was doing, but all we were doing was watching. Then the day finally came
when somebody made the wrong assumption that because I had watched somebody carve a turkey that
I must know how to do it, as well. I just tore that poor bird up, and finally somebody else came along
and did the job right. It is one thing to watch while somebody else does all the work. It is another matter
to do the job yourself. However, that is what God called those disciples to do on the day of Pentecost.

We need to receive the Holy Spirit so we can do the work of discipleship that awaits each one of us. We
cannot preach correctly unless we have received and depend on the Holy Spirit. We cannot pray, sing,
serve or live correctly as a Christian unless and until we have been empowered and enlightened by the
Holy Spirit, which first fell on the Lord’s apostles in Jerusalem on Pentecost!

Do you remember when God made Adam from the dust of the earth in Genesis 2:7? Although God had
the body of Adam, nothing happened with that body until God breathed His Spirit into the nostrils of
Adam, who then became a living soul.

Do you remember the dry bones in the valley in Ezekiel 37? Although Ezekiel spoke to the bones and
they came together to form a body, the body could not and did not move until the Spirit of God blew
over those bones. The same thing is true with the church and with every Christian; no matter what our
spiritual gifts might be, they never will function to their full capacity until we allow the Holy Spirit to
blow over us, fill us and equip us for God’s service.

I love the Pentecost hymn that says:
“Breathe on me, breath of God,
“Fill me with life anew,
“That I may live as You did live,
“And do what You would do.”

The same message is found in the more familiar hymn that says:
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
“Melt me, mold me, fill me, and use me.
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.”

In both cases, we cannot do our work, employ our gifts or exercise our ministry areas until God has filled
us and transformed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, once the Holy Spirit has come, we can
have the same boldness, conviction and possibly the same results Peter had on the Day of Pentecost
when 3,000 souls were added to the church at the end of his sermon. We need the power of Pentecost!

Pentecost is the day when gender walls seem to come down. Peter said Pentecost is the fulfillment of
the prophecy of Joel who said, “God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your
daughters will prophesy…Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days will I pour out My
Spirit” (Joel 2:28). Pentecost is the day when God tears down all the walls of division in the world and
the church.

We need to move beyond the idea that God cannot use both men and women in the ministry of the
gospel. Paul would go on to say, “In Christ there is neither male nor female, neither slave nor free,
neither Jew nor Gentile” (Galatians 3:28). The same Paul who commended Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:1-6
also commended Phoebe in Romans 16:1. These times in which we live are another embodiment of the
Spirit of Pentecost, as God is once again pouring out His Spirit upon our sons and daughters. We need to
embrace this aspect of the power and purpose of Pentecost!

Ascension? Huh? ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

While Ascension Day is a Day of Holy Obligation, it is one of the most neglected feast days of the Christian church. This is sad enough in itself, but in ignoring the festival, the opportunity is lost for reflecting on what the Ascension means.

Maybe we tend to ignore Ascension Day because it normally falls on a weekday.  Is this the reason it doesn’t get the attention it deserves? This is a pity because it is full of significance in the historical life of Jesus when on Earth – and his continuing ministry for us in heaven. As a weekday event it reminds us that Christianity isn’t just something for Sunday – it’s an experience for every day.  As Christians, we are to celebrate Our Lord every day, every second of our being.  If we gloss over its truth we rob ourselves of a most important doctrine, for without the Ascension, the work of Christ would be incomplete.  Because we do not place as much emphasis on the Ascension, we miss the tremendous truth of the Ascension.

St. Augustine, the great fifth century theologian, called the ascension the most important Christian festival of the year, more important than Christmas, more important than Pentecost, even more important than Easter. For the ascension reminds us just how high Jesus was raised, and what that means.

‘This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Saviour had ascended into heaven, his Nativity would have come to nothing…and his Passion would have borne no fruit for us, and his most holy Resurrection would have been useless.’

What Saint Augustine says here resonates with the passage in Ephesians 4:10, where Saint Paul says that ‘He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things’ – i.e.; that by ascending into Heaven, and taking our human nature up with Him into the heavenly places, He completed the process of redemption by reclaiming His place as rightful sovereign of the universe, so that He might be present to us in a different way. If He had not so returned, the process would not have been completed, and as Jesus said in John 16:7, ‘it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you’.

The gospel writer Luke is renowned as a careful historian. When he recorded the birth of Jesus he rooted the event in its historical setting within the Roman Empire. He continues that same preciseness at the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry by recalling the place of the Ascension – at Bethany. He dates the event – 40 days after the resurrection on Easter Day. He emphases the presence of eyewitnesses – the Ascension took place he writes “before their very eyes” (Acts 1:9). Yes, the Ascension was a real event of history.

Some people are puzzled as to why Jesus waited around on Earth 40 days after his resurrection, but that period is no accident, and Jesus had things to do.

Jesus had endured the Devil’s temptation for 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of his public ministry, but now the tables were turned. In the period after Jesus’ resurrection, He triumphantly paraded his victory over the Satan. During this time, the conqueror of death displayed his supremacy before his faithful followers so that they might share in the joy of his victory. But there was another reason. Those 40 days of his appearing after the resurrection were of immense value to the believers for they established the reality of his lordship. A single sighting of the risen Christ may have been open to question, but his continuous encounters with the disciples would remove the doubts of the most skeptical among them and assure them of his power and authority.

The resurrection of Jesus marked the ending of a chapter in his earthly life. Things could never be the same again and it was essential that there should be a clear-cut event to bring the chapter to a close. It’s true that Jesus was making a series of appearances to his followers, but they couldn’t go on forever.

It would have been odd if Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances had grown fewer until finally they just stopped – that would only cause confusion and even loss of faith. No, there had to be a single, miraculous occurrence, separating the time when the Jesus of Earth would become the Christ of heaven. The Ascension was the only fitting conclusion to the life of Jesus on Earth.

Luke tells us of the disciples with their eyes straining to catch the last glimpse of the cloud bearing up their Lord. But then they were quickly brought back to earth. It would seem that with their eyes heavenward they didn’t notice the two heavenly beings that slipped quietly alongside them until they spoke: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking unto heaven?,” as if to remind the disciples of the work that they had been given to do.  The angels, for angels they were, had to tell the disciples to get to business.

And so it is with us.  Ascension Day reminds us of the Mystery of Faith: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

Christ will come again.  And as we await the “coming again” of Christ, we, like the disciples, have a job to do, business to attend to.  Although we live in the time between Jesus’ Ascension and his coming again, we have something to do now.   In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says, “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,  and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”

Where do we start?   Jesus has the answer for that, too.  In John 13 Jesus says to us, “ But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you.  If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”  We are to continue to change the world in the work that Jesus has given us to do by helping others to see Jesus through and in us, by showing that love that he demonstrated, by bringing that love to everyone.

Jesus told us to love everyone.  Love.  Everyone.  Period.   Not just those whose politics are the same as ours.  Not only those whose religion is the same as ours, not only those whose lifestyles are the same as ours.  Love.  Everyone.  Period.

We would all of us do well to pray:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Love.  Everyone.  Period.

Come Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Living for Jesus ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

My beloved brothers and sisters, dear family of our risen Lord Jesus Christ, as we have passed the middle of Eastertide season, and we are approaching closer to the feast of Ascension of our Lord in Heaven, we have all experienced, during every Gospel story during His presence among His disciples, from the very moment of the devoted women who first have seen the open tomb and sow the Angel, Saint Thomas, the two people going home in Emmaus, and Jesus explaining all the Scripture, braeking the bread, preparing the meal beside the lake.

We believe all these events that have occurred, strengthening their faith as ours too, passing every liturgical season in the calendar, growing in our faith.

Let us strive to preach the risen Christ our Lord, with our daily prayers, for the conversion of sinners and for all blasphemies against His Sacred Heart.

Let us preach the Gospel through our daily little acts of piety and affection to our neighbors, spend one hour with those that are lonely and that need our attention or company, when we don’t have what to offer for their material benefit, we still can sacrifice of our time for them, even we maybe are passing turbulent times, we can still help each other, to one to another with our confession of confidence, if we build this true connection in purity and sanctity with them, that will help a lot to bear the good and the negative of one to another, and even give a good advice we are gifted  from God , a beg that all of us can give good and prudent advices.

We always can pray and petition those vulnerable people, sign the names, and offer in the daily offering of mass, or recited the office of dead for those that they might lost.

Let testify to them, with all the respect to them.

I see so many lonely people around, that are with no friends, or family members, like strangers, forgotten from the society, let us be that light, to bring them good energy, to spend time, even when we are not capable facing our own demons, , I will sacrifice that one hour, so that can feel that we are here always for them in good or in negative, always when they need our company, we can share our support, visiting the elderly  and the disabled, make some nice shopping, spend nice time with tea or coffee, talking about anything that they prefer.

I do not force Jesus to them, I just act in a most modest and humble way, and my preaching is through the action and true friendship.

We must petition for the needs of all of them.

As a deacon, is not so much that I can offer, like the holy sacraments, but with God’s grace and authority of the Holy Mother Church, volunteer work , the Divine Office prayer, , the visitations to the disabled and elderly, and those that seek advice, or are searching for deeper understanding, or having vocation, those in need of advice and prayer.

As we are striving the Dominicans to study and the fruits from what we study to put into action to the world around us, and those that seem to be sanctified and to live a holy life.

Always to hold the truth, to live the Truth and to endure within the Truth. Veritas-Truth- devoted life in absolute integrity with God, who is Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen

Deacon Igor Kalinski OPI; Dominican Oratory of St’s. Sebastian & Peregrine in Gevgelija/N. Macedonia

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled ~ The Rev. Dcn. Dollie Wilkinson, OPI

Today, our country, and our world are experiencing an epic crisis. And we were not prepared. This disaster finally has a name — Covid-19. It is a pandemic that doesn’t discriminate. Young, old, black, white, rich or poor, are all vulnerable. Everything was shut down but essential business, schools closed, and churches became empty. Hundreds of thousands have died, and many more remain sick. Everyone is required to stay six feet apart. But there is hope. Many are now recovering, and there is a vaccine in the works.

At the height of the pandemic, when Christians could not worship in their own churches, many asked, “Where is God? Why are we left alone to suffer?” But God has not abandoned us.

John 14:1-4 (NKJV) is often read at funerals, as a way to offer comfort to The loved one’s left behind.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Even Jesus’ disciples had doubts about the full grace of God. After many years of traveling with Him, learning His teachings and bearing witness to many miracles, they became very troubled when He spoke of leaving them. Just like some questioning , “Where is God during this crisis?”.
In John 14:5-12, Jesus tries to reassure them they are not being abandoned.
“Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

Poor Philip is thoroughly confused and feels lost. He wanted to see the Father, so Jesus had to patiently explain to him that he’s been traveling with the Father all along.
“Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”.

In the midst of crisis we all seek out a savior, a super hero, someone to say, “It will be ok, I’ve got this!”. But a simple prayer can offer us comfort no matter what we are facing.

Lord,
You are my Shepherd, you watch over me and tend to the needs of my heart. Help me to trust your guidance in this time of uncertainty.  It is so hard to look ahead and not see a clear vision for my future. Please help my heart to trust in your timing. Let my mind seek your will. Fill my soul with peace knowing that you are the one true God.  You are,“…my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2, NIV).  Thank you for watching over me and all my loved ones. In your name I pray,
Amen.

Daily Walking With the Shepherd ~ The Rev Dcn Igor Kalinski, OPI

Jesus our Good Shepherd, leading his flock through many tribulations, and at the beginning of the new life after our natural death, we will experience our meeting with him in our true homeland, that many unfortunately are seeking here, many of them even all these tragedies and human and animal agonies and abuses cant realize that here is the valley of tears, and in heaven  God is going to wipe away our tears of the eyes in a place without sorrow.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us strive to sanctify our lives, praying daily for all unhappy and desperate people and for the sick. Let us voluntarily do our gospel readings to transform into action to all that well meet, even if it  only soul that is lost or confused, or is stuck in the worlds labyrinths, whatever hardship they face daily, we are those that cans how them, that they are loved and appreciated, because on such peoples is the kingdom  of God.

Repent, examine daily our conscience, pray and petition to the Lord, and we will reveal his power and love to them with our sincere prayer and affection of charity to them. Our preaching to be our action, and prayer our words.

To teach the mankind, how good shepherd is Jesus, who search for the lost one and gather back into the flock.

Be faithful to our Lord, be obedient to our holy mother church. The flock inside the fence find secure shelter as in Gods house.

Let us daily pray for our daily change in Gods manner, to give place to God, to walk in our lives with the Holy Spirit as our bodies are His holy temple. Keep yourself from sins against your own body.

Let us strive for the sanctity, to sanctify ourselves daily, so the people might see Gods change within us.

Stay in fidelity with God and in divine integrity.

Let us strive for sanctity and for the conversion of the sinners.

Pray for the lost sheep, and do not forget to pray for the persecuted Christians throughout the world, for peace in the world and especially for the Christians that suffer in China.

Please pray for the vocations into priesthood and religious life, because the harvest is huge and laborers not so many, for the work of God and His glory who is Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen

St. Joseph ~ The Rev Dcn Igor Kalinski, OPI

Homily for 01.V.2020 Festivity of St Joseph the Worker

Oratory of Sts.  Sebastian & Peregrine in Gevgelija, North Macedonia

Deacon Igor Kalinski OPi

First Friday in the month, we remind ourselves of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ who did on the Cross for the salvation of all those that will accept and follow Him in their lifes, preaching to those that haven’t heard about him, praying for all the sinners and humanity, for their conversion.

This Friday we commemorate St Joseph the Worker, the foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph, a model for imitations of his meek and humble heart, working as carpenter, taking care for the Holy Family. He was a chaste in his heart, humble believer, who feared the Lord and have been obedient to travel as refugees in Egypt, he was a listener of Gods voice.

Saint Joseph is a model for a good father, grandfather, We can learn from him, by imitating his actions and embrace for our spiritual life. His herpic virtues are many, courageous defender of the Holy Family, wisdom and experience, doing his ministry with the work and providing for his family.

Today dear brethren, dear father and elders, strive to be like him in your daily routine.

You my dear brethren and sisters in religious orders , lets learn from his humility and chastisement. To take his virtues and to incorporate into our hearts.

Ask Saint Jospeh in prayer, pray daily to him, a short prayer or the litany to him.

He is one of favorite saints. The Holy Mother the Church have dedicate October month to him, so we can nourish in spiritual journey, to deepen our relationship with him in prayer.

I pray to god through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to make our hearts similar to his most chaste heart, to learn meekness and obedience and perseverance for the rest of our earthly lifes for better understanding of God, and for deepen relationship with Him through the example of St Joseph, that we can share in our daily life, transform into action, because everyone that well meet have to treat as Jesus Himself who is Father , Son and Holy Ghost

Gevgelija/Macedonia 23.IV.2020

Saint Catherine of Siena

She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as “the Party of the Twelve”, which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father’s house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the “spiritual espousals”, probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labor for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January, 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (22 June) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as “the tumult of the Ciompi”, she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her “Dialogue”, the book of her meditations and revelations.

In the meanwhile the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November, 1378, summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters in behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

Among Catherine’s principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (d. 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (d. 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo’s book, the “Legend”, was finished in 1395. A second life of her, the “Supplement”, was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (d. 1434), who also composed the “Minor Legend”, which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous “Process”. Catherine was canonized by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart–referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. Her principal feast is on the 30th of April, but it is popularly celebrated in Siena on the Sunday following. The feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival.

The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. Her writings consist of

the “Dialogue”, or “Treatise on Divine Providence”; a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and a series of “Prayers”.

The “Dialogue” especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante’s “Divina Commedia”.

A smaller work in the dialogue form, the “Treatise on Consummate Perfection”, is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the “Letters”, which are the most complete expression of Catherine’s many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine’s teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveler through time to eternity must be born again.