Thought for the Day by Elizabeth Pearson (St Chad’s)
Saint Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine was born in 1347 and the 23rd child of her parents. As a young girl, she often went to a cave near her home in Siena to meditate, fast and pray. At aged 7 she claimed to see a vision of Jesus with Peter, Paul and John the Evangelist; and soon after announced to her parents her determination to live a religious life.
She moved into her hermitage in the basement of the family home, where she slept on a board, used a wooden log for a pillow and meditated. She claimed to have received an invisible stigmata (for humility) by which she felt the wounds of Christ.
From age 16-19 St. Catherine continued to live a secluded life, studying, praying and meditating. At the end of this three year seclusion, she experienced what she called ‘a spiritual marriage to Christ‘. In this vision, Jesus placed a ring on her finger, and her soul attained mystical union with God. She called this state an ‘inner cell in her soul’ that sustained her all her life as she travelled, ministered, and cared for the poor and sick.
St. Catherine stated that God told her“Not to love me for your own sake, or your neighbour for your own sake, but to love me for myself, yourself for myself, your neighbour for myself”. She wrote many letters and The Dialogue, which she referred to as ‘my book’, in which she describes many spiritual experiences, and her driving motivation to love God.
At the heart of Saint Catherine’s teaching is the value of combining quiet contemplation with action, and her intimate union with God meant she gained great strength and freedom to overcome many challenges of her time and built relationships of justice and peace.
Today’s bible readings tell of the Blessings of the Promised Land, and the riches we can receive if we obey God’s commandments. As we adjust to the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions and coming back together and socialising in groups; it is in synergy with the journey to the Promised Land and accepting the gifts or situations we find ourselves in, and making a new start. What the passage tells us is to “Obey faithfully the laws that have been given; Love the Lord your God, do everything he commands, and be faithful to him”. It is your choice… choose love.
The second reading warns us to be careful how we live. “Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have”. It warns against getting drunk, being foolish, and instead being filled with the Spirit and always giving thanks for everything to God the Father.
“Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.”
“A man who loves his wife loves himself”.
The scripture states that “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife and the two will become one”. There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the Church. But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband”.