Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 29th – St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day

April 29th
Feast of St Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena was born on March 25, 1347 during the outbreak of the plague in Siena, Italy.  She was the 25th child born to her mother, though half of her brothers and sisters did not survive childhood.  Catherine herself was a twin, but her sister did not survive infancy.

When Catherine was 16, her sister Bonaventura, died, leaving her husband as a widower.  Catherine's parents proposed that he marry Catherine.  Catherine strongly opposed this, so she began fasting and cut her hair short to mar her appearance.

Despite Catherine's religious nature, she did not choose to enter a convent and instead she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society while living at home.  Fellow Dominican sisters taught Catherine to read.  Meanwhile, she lived quietly, isolated within her family home.

Something changed her when she was 21.  She described an experience she referred to as her "mystical marriage to Christ.”  Mystical experiences change people, and Catherine was no exception.  In her vision, she was told to reenter public life and to help the poor and sick.  She immediately rejoined her family and went into public to help people in need.  She often visited hospitals and homes where the poor and sick were found.  Her activities attracted followers who helped her in her mission to serve the poor and sick.

Catherine began dictating letters to scribes in 1375, and is credited with composing over 400 letters – her Dialogue – which is her definitive work, and her prayers.  These works are so influential that St. Catherine would later be declared a Doctor of the Church. She petitioned for peace and was instrumental in persuading the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome.  She became involved in the fractured politics of her time, but was instrumental in restoring the Papacy to Rome and in brokering peace deals during a time of factional conflict and war between the Italian city states.

By 1380, the 33-year-old mystic had become ill, possibly due to her habit of extreme fasting.  Her confessor, Raymond, ordered her to eat, but she replied that she found it difficult to do so, and that possibly she was ill.  In January of 1380, her illness accelerated her inability to eat and drink.  Within weeks, she was unable to use her legs.  She died on April 29, following a stroke just a week prior.

St. Catherine's feast day is April 29, and is one of the most influential and popular saints in the Church.

My First Profession

The feast of St. Catherine of Siena is also the day I celebrate the anniversary of my first profession.  When I began my graduate studies, I adopted St Catherine of Siena as my patron saint because she was among the first women Doctors of the Church.  I especially admired her prophetic voice – and that many clergy, including bishops, sought her out for spiritual direction.  Even the pope listened to her!  Other than that, I knew little of her, but in reflecting on my ministerial and vocation journey, I believe she took her role as ‘patron saint’ quite seriously.  During my studies and afterwards she has come through for me on many occasions.  I must say that she probably plays a big part in my religious vocation.  Never would I have imagined that this 4th-generation Texan would become a Dominican Sister living in Michigan!  It is one of the reasons that I asked and was granted permission to make my First Profession on her feast day! …so I’m sharing a few pictures with you.

Sunday, May 14th Is ‘Second’ Sunday!

Are you discerning a call to religious life?
Do you want to talk to someone about your vocation?

The second Sunday of each month is set aside for you!   
You are invited to spend the day with us,
and pray, worship, eat, play and meet with the
Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids. 

 The next ‘Second Sunday’ is May 14th!  Some of you have indicated that you are coming on that Sunday!  I look forward to seeing/meeting you! That’s great!  Please know that arrangements can also be made for other days or weekends – especially if you’re travelling far.  Either way, please do let me know if you’re coming, and I’ll make sure to have a place reserved for you!

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