Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Happy Feast Day

Today is the Feast day of St Catherine of Siena, (1347-80) Virgin & Doctor of the Church, and Patroness of Europe. A visionary even as a child, she joined the Dominicans as soon as she was permitted. She was one of the most brilliant theological minds of the day and was influential as an adviser to Popes and was renowned for her ability to procure conversions, even amongst hardened criminals. Her letters and “Dialogue” are still considered some of the greatest writings in the Church. She died at 33. The stigmata became visible after her death and in 1430, her body was discovered to be uncorrupted.

Although my name is Catherine strictly speaking I was not named after St Catherine of Siena, in truth I was not named after anyone, my parents purposely chose my name because they liked it and knew no one by that name and therefore it was not tainted, by tainted I mean to say they did not associate the name with anyone they knew and therefore it did not conjure up any imagines.

Nonetheless when I first started to hear about the lives of the Saints I was so inspired by the stories I researched all the ones named Catherine with the intention of adopting one for myself and I chose St Catherine of Siena.

Why, well because her story spoke to me the most. In particular there was the story in which after facing ridicule one night while she wept Christ appeared holding a crown of gold and a crown of thorns. “Choose the one you want to wear for this life, Catherine,” he said, “and I will save the other for eternity.” She remembered that even as Christ was dying for love of his enemies, they were reviling him and she said, “I want to be like you” and took the crown of thorns.

The golden crown represents for me the secular world and the appeal it can sometimes have and the crown of thorns me with Christ (or with faith) and the great sense of love I feel. I can’t have both and so in my moments of weakness when I am struggling the toss I remind myself that although the golden crown can be appealing it leaves me feeling shallow and empty inside whereas the crown of thorns although not always the easiest to wear with Christ I feel complete and deeply loved.

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