Saturday, June 25, 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
213. Epilogue: Letter to God
This is the epilogue to book five. This is 4:37 on 5/23/2016. I want to take few months break due to two reasons. First, nobody, or close to nobody, reads my blogs. That is discouraging; my thoughts are worth nothing to the world. Second, I get no encouragement from God in my quest. He could support my heart by providing me some help. But during these 16 years, 5 months and few days He has given me zero help (He has given me lot of technical help but that does not count). What I want is some breakthrough which should clarify the issue, remove all doubts, and be supernatural (beyond human power) in kind. And it is very simple. For instance if Qalandar-a-Azam (QA) or Daata Sahib (DS) directly contact me by making words in my brain, as they do quite frequently with RQ and SK, it will give me certitude, because only God and His deputies can form words in brain (Devil reportedly has this capacity, but I do not want to bring him in this equation___ it is between me and God).
O God, help me. Take pity on me. You are leaving everything up to me. I am not capable of reaching you on my own. I have tried but failed. The task is too big for me. I am not strong like BBJ or QA. I am a very ordinary person. I could become strong with a little help from You. If I could see green Allah sign on closing my eyes and have only Your thought in my mind at that time, I could have great progress. There is a string of brass bells hanging in my meditation room, if only they would chime.
Dear God, You are too big and I am too small, like a grain of sand and mighty sun. if You are not going to help me, why select such an unworthy person. Anybody who travels on this path is selected by You. You select them to select themselves.
I have two more things to say. One; that I did put everything on line to be near You. There were 2-3 days when my life hung in balance. I did pass the test. Last year You sent a test of sickness which lasted for several months. I would cough for days 2-3 hundred times per 24 hours. My brother wanted to pray for my health and wanted me to do a vazeefa. I absolutely refused both. Never for once did I ask You for relief. I wanted to submit to Your will, not willy-nilly but willingly. Two, all these mighty saints were shown a glimpse of You in 16 years. After such a glimpse, sticking to the path is a virtual certainty. Leaving the path is not an option for anybody. I have not been given a glimpse, despite the fact that I am weaker than them. I should be given some credit for my tenacity.
Take the one (and only) instance where You sent direct supernatural help to console me. Through RQ I was told that I will get what I want at or before age 78. The trouble is that I cannot verify it till the actual event happens. I cannot convince anybody else that God has told me so (through intermediaries). if the message had come through somebody who did not know me, it would have been believable ___like Shahab’s sister-in-law in Germany who knew nothing about Shahab’s prayer to God for Lady Fatima’s help (blog 65), prior to her dream, yet told him about his prayer and its acceptance. . On the other hand, RQ knew everything about me; his message was tainted with prior knowledge of me. Maybe they were his own thoughts.
Current status is that there has been no further progress for about 6 months. As if there is a wall in front. The speed of bicycle has increased but it never takes off to become an aircraft. I do not too much mind the delay till age 78, what drives me to madness is lack of a clear sign. I asked QA to contact me directly, but he refused. He right away understood the motive behind my request and said, “There is hell of a difference in belief in God without any miracle (to convince you) and after witnessing a miracle”. He also said, “I cannot help him even if I wanted to, nobody can. It is a matter between him and God”. His helplessness is amazing. The thought, that such a mighty Entity as God knows me and takes interest in my affairs, sends chills in my body.
My aim has changed. Green Allah sign, bliss, supernatural event, closeness to God, are all welcome but now nothing will satisfy me except merger in Him, and cessation of my separate identity, like drop merging in ocean. I get plenty of bliss everyday during my session.
June 23, 2016
Sunday, May 22, 2016
212. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part seventeen
We were discussing the vision in which Jesus asked her to choose between the crown of gold and crown of thorns.
Jesus said “All things are in my power. In the end you will get complete victory over the Devil” The vision ended. She told Raymond that her head hurt where it had been pricked by the thorns of the crown. The response of Catherine to evil of Andrea with good eventually had an effect on Andrea. She felt guilty and remorseful. One day she had the vision with open eyes in which Catherine face transformed into that of angelic beauty. I have already described it in blog 207. That vision had a profound effect on Andrea. She wept bitterly. She asked Catherine for forgiveness. Catherine said, there is nothing to forgive. Catherine threw herself in the arms of the person who had damaged her reputation. Andrea told everybody that she had spread lies and that Catherine was a pure and pious virgin. She told them of the transfiguration of Catherine and the holy light. There is a final extraordinary story to report in the interaction between Andrea and the holy virgin. One day the stench from the wound was so great that it overwhelmed Catherine. She was nauseated and wanted to vomit. But she still cleaned the ulcer. Then she collected all that putrid fluid and pus in a cup and drank it! She also put her mouth to the sore. This was her act of rebellion against her revulsion to the smell and pus. She wanted to conquer her body. And she did. She confided to Raymond, “Never in my life have I tasted any food and drink sweeter or more exquisite.”That night Jesus appeared in her vision. He praised her lavishly. Part of what He said was, “….not only did you show indifference to what people said about you, but……you cheerfully drank that abhorrent drink….I will give you a drink that transcends every human nature and expectation.” He whispered to her, “Drink daughter from my side…”She put her lips to the most holy wound and drank abundantly the indescribable and holy liquid. The effect of that liquid was that her soul and body was permeated with graces.
From that time onwards she never wanted food or was able to tolerate it.
Raymond writes in the end,” I must insist that all that I write was either confessed to me by Catherine herself or I found it amongst the writing of Fra Tommaso , her first confessor, or else I was told by Friars of my own order or reliable women whom I have already named, who were companions of Catherine.
Pious life. Catherine lived in God. God showed in her. Her whole appearance scintillated with purity. Her friends described that men trembled in her presence. Her face glowed. Being with her was a spiritual experience.
Ecstasy. Ecstasy has been experienced by all great saints, belonging to all religions. When in ecstasy, Saint Catherine would become rigid, and unaware of time, space and surroundings. She did not respond to sight or sound or touch. Raymond and the other Friars watched it a thousand times. After receiving the Eucharist she would often fall down in ecstasy, lasting for 3-4 hours. Her clenched fingers would tightly press into the palms. Her eyes would be tightly shut. On the feast day of the Apostle’s conversion it lasted for 3 days and nights. There was not the slightest sign of life. People thought that either she has died or was near death. One day a woman kicked her while she was in ecstasy. She suddenly died the same day. Another wretch dragged her unconscious body out of the church in the street. He was punished so severely that Raymond chose not to describe it. Friar Pietro di Lando pricked all over her body with a needle. Even that did not awaken her. This Friar had a miserable end. In the court of Avignon, the women of the court treated her ecstasies as spectacles and stuck pins in her feet to see if that would awaken her.
What did Catherine say about the rapt state?
She gave different accounts at different times. One time she described heaven and what was going on. Sometimes she would come back with instruction for her companions. Sometimes she won’t say anything, because the experience would be beyond words. Once while she was in rapt state, she started repeating the phrase, “I have seen the secret things of God.” Once she said that she felt as if her soul entered in God and God entered in her soul, like the fish is in water and water is in the fish.
Holy Anorexia. Living without food or very little food is not uncommon. Dr Bell has collected two hundred and sixty-one possible cases of holy anorexia. Stomach shrinks due to not eating. A stage reaches when eating causes pain due to inability of stomach to expand. Pain may cause pleasure, because one is suffering for God. The disease when it occurs in modern women who wants to stay thin and attractive is called Anorexia nervosa. It has high mortality and very difficult to treat. Catherine did not eat or drink after she drank pus of Andrea and liquid from the wound of Jesus, as described above.
Stigmata. The stigmata on her hand and feet were not visible. Mother Theodosia Drane wrote, “…in the center of the palm there was an appearance as if the flesh under the skin was missing, so that if lighted candle was placed behind it, a distinct light would become visible on the other side.”
End of book five with “Oh God! Oh Rabboni*”
*In an ancient language, Rabboni means “my beloved”
Saturday, May 14, 2016
211. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part sixteen
The beggar had received a sleeveless tunic from Catherine. He said that he would rather also have sleeves. Catherine searched the house again to find some sleeves. she found the new dress of the serving woman hanging from a pole. She took it down and unstitched the sleeves from the dress and gave them to the beggar. The beggar said, “You have given me all these nice clothes. Lord bless you for this. However I have a friend in the hospital who is in great need of clothing. If you have any clothes for him, I will take them.” Catherine was thrown on the horns of a dilemma: should she give him the only tunic she was wearing, or she be modest and not give her only garment covering her body? Modesty won. She explained her quandary to the beggar. The beggar smiled and left.
Jesus Christ appeared in a vision that night. He showed him her tunic which she had given to the beggar. It was adorned with pearls and gems. Jesus praised her. He offered her a red tunic with rays of light coming out of it, and put it on her body with His own holy hands. That vision left her with a strange result. From then onwards she was never in need of winter clothes, even when it was icy cold outside.
Once a beggar approached her as she was coming from the church of Preaching Friars. He said he needed help. She had nothing of value to give it to him. Then she remembered that she had a small silver cross at the end of her beads called Paternoster. She tore the cross from the thread and gave it to the beggar. The beggar went away.
That night she saw Jesus Christ in a vision. He had the same cross in His hands, but now it was adorned with gems. He said, “Do you recognize this cross? “She said, “Yes, I do, but it did not have diamonds on it before.”He said, “I will give it to you on Judgment Day when I will be with My Father, and announce your good deed of helping Me.”
A poor woman named Cecca had advanced leprosy and was in a hospital. People avoided going near her due to the fear of catching the disease, but not Catherine. She embraced her and started nursing her every morning and evening. The disease made the woman miserable. She relieved her anger and frustration by lashing at Catherine. She became more and more demanding. Her ingratitude became difficult to bear. If virgin was ever late in the morning because of longer prayer in the church, Cecca will taunt her. For example, she would say, “Oh! At last here comes the lady queen of Fontebranda. Did you have enough of those friars? And so on.”Catherine would ignore her and start the fire and cook the food. Then she would feed her and do other chores. Her mother Lapa was very worried that Catherine would catch leprosy. But leprosy was of no concern to Catherine; the task of taking care of the sick woman was her sole concern. Soon infection attacked her hands. It was obvious to everybody that this was leprosy. The infection lasted a long time. Finally the end came for Cecca and one day she died. Catherine washed her body and clothed her. As soon as Cecca was buried a miracle happened: all traces of leprosy disappeared from the virgin’s body.
Andrea was a Sister of Penance. She developed cancer of breast. It gave such a horrible stench that one had to pinch one’s nose near her. Catherine took care of all her needs with affection and diligence. One day the bad smell became worse. Catherine was overcome by the stench and became sick. Waves of nausea came. She put her mouth and nose to the wound and kept it there till the nausea subsided. This was her way to conquer her body. Even Andrea was horrified by her act. For some reason the woman developed intense hatred towards Catherine. She spread rumors that Catherine was a wicked woman and was leading a secret, wicked life, and that she had lost her virginity. Other nuns heard these lies. They believed Andrea and insulted Catherine with vile words. Catherine replied to them by saying, “Indeed I am a virgin”. However she did not stop her good work of taking care of Andrea.
One night she was overcome with grief. She came to her cell and wept and prayed. She asked Jesus to help her. And then the Savior appeared in a vision. He held a gold crown studded with jewels in one hand and a crown of thorns in the other. He said, “Choose one crown. Whatever crown you choose, you will get it in this life, but you will get the other crown in the next life.”Without any reluctance, Catherine chose the crown of thorns and put it on her head.
To be continued
Saturday, May 7, 2016
210. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part fifteen
Jesus explained that she had to fight this battle without any visible aid from Him, but He was in her heart that is why these scenes repelled her.
Unlike St Teresa of Avilla, who was very close to Jesus, but never saw Him with physical eyes, she saw Him, on occasions, with worldly eyes (blog77). How Jesus taught her, Raymond quotes her, “…either in the form of inspiration, or through His speaking to as I am speaking to you now, before your very eyes.”
“No matter whether she was praying, meditating, reading, watching or sleeping, she was comforted one way or another by vision of Jesus; at times, even when she was talking to other people…”
Church Reform. One of her missions was to purify the church of corruption. She also tried to bring peace between various factions and regions of the country. She wrote more than three hundred letters. At times, she would be dictating to five men; praying and dictating. She wrote letters to Popes, kings, queens, city officials, and ordinary people. She wrote to king of France to make peace with England. She would write to bishops and priests. Here is a sample letter to Gerard du Puy, the man responsible for appointments of pastors and bishops in Tuscany :
“Our Lord holds in aversion three detestable vices above all others___they are impurity, avarice and pride. And they all reign in the spouse of Christ ___ at least among her prelates, who seek after nothing but pleasures, honors and riches……. And when the time comes for choosing pastors and cardinals, let not flattery and money and simony have any part in their election; regard nothing but good qualities of the persons proposed, and give no heed to whether they are peasants or nobles. Virtue is the only thing which really makes a man noble, or pleasing to God.”
I have already narrated the story of, Brother Gabriel, master of sacred theology, and Father JohnTantucci, also a master of sacred theology. Brother Gabriel lived in fancy quarters and slept under silk sheets. Catherine converted both scholars to lives of simplicity, poverty and service.
In a letter to the Pope she wrote that his first job as Pope was to reform the church.
She wrote in a letter to Raymond that according to a revelation by Jesus on the night of April 1, 1376,
she had been chosen to reform and purify the church. “God revealed His mysteries to me and showed me His wonderful counsels …, and I was filled with such abundant joy that my tongue has no power to express it.”
Love of neighbor. In Christianity, the term ‘love of neighbor’ means love of fellow human beings, or simply love for others. One day, when she was a young girl, Jesus told her that God wants two things from human beings; love of God and love of neighbor. She will have to fulfill both. She had nothing of her own. She asked her father his permission to give alms, which he did. Soon she was giving clothes of his brothers and servants to poor.
There were a number of needy families in the neighborhood who were too ashamed to beg but needed help. One day she gathered grain, and wine and went to their house. Door was open and she deposited her load.
One time she became sick. Her body swelled up. There was a poor widow with sons and daughters, all dying from hunger, who lived nearby. She prayed to Lord at night to help her in the morning. She found a small sack of grain, a large bottle of wine, a small bottle of oil, some edibles. She did not think she could carry all that material in one trip. But she tried. She asked Lord for help. The weight felt light like straw and she was able to lift the entire load. As she came nearer to her destination, her strength started giving away. The door of the house was open. As she entered, her strength was completely gone. She fell in the entry. It made quite a noise. Initially she did not have the strength to move, but eventually she was able to crawl out. The widow had come to investigate. She recognized her benefactor by her habit.
It is pertinent to narrate her encounter with two needy beggars and two infirm women
One day Lord appeared to her as beggar and asked for some clothing. She was coming out of nun’s chapel. She went back to the chapel and took out her sleeveless tunic which she was wearing under her outer tunic as protection against cold, and gave it to the beggar. The beggar asked her if she could also give him some linen. She took him home. She searched the house and found a shirt and a pair of pants from her father and brothers clothes and gave it cheerfully to the beggar. Was the beggar satisfied?
To be continued
Saturday, April 30, 2016
209. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part fourteen
We were discussing the miracles after death of St. Catherine.
10 A woman on a pilgrimage from Germany could hardly see from her eyes due to some eye disease. She prayed to the holy virgin for improvement of her vision and vowed. After a short interval her vision got much better. She visited the tomb of St Catherine.
11. A Roman lady by the name of Maria lost the vision of one eye and had pain. She went into seclusion from shame. She devoutly prayed to Catherine. One night Catherine appeared in her dream and told her to throw away her medicines and attend Mass every morning and she will be cured. The pain stopped at once. Vision also improved. As she continued attending the Mass she was completely cured.
12. A youth named Giacomo and a Roman woman Cilia de Petruccio, both, were near their end by diseases. Both were cured by praying to Catherine.
13. A servant woman, Bona di Giovanni, was washing a quilt. The heavy water-soaked quilt could not be managed by Bona and started being taken away by the water current along with the helpless woman. She called out, “O’ holy virgin, Catherine of Siena, save me from this great danger”. Suddenly, the quilt, along with Bona, started moving towards the bank, and landed there. The woman, in all honesty, thought that it was a miracle.
14. Raymond was told of the above mentioned miracles, but here is one miracle part of which he personally witnessed:
15. A young Roman, Nicolo, was suffering from a throat disease called quinsy. The air passage was close to complete blockage, which would have lead to his death. Alexia, the great companion of Late Catherine, was a friend of Nicolo family. She had a tooth of Catherine in her possession. She rushed to the patient, put the tooth close to his face and begged Catherine to cure him. Immediately there was a noise as if something had burst. Foul matter came out and he was cured.
On one occasion Raymond was preaching and he told the story of this miracle. As it happened Nicolo was in the audience. He stood up and corroborated the episode.
16. In 1384, head of St Catherine was brought to Siena from Rome. A solemn reception was held. Raymond arranged a lunch for the friars and the guests to celebrate the occasion. Due to some mistake bread was found to be inadequate; it was enough for five persons whereas there were about fifty people to feed. The Prior immediately sent two friars to friendly houses to collect more bread. They did not return for some time. Prior ordered for loaves to be served to the guests. I quote Raymond, “…either in the bin, or on the table, or somewhere or other, those loaves by Catherine’s merits multiplied miraculously to such an extent that ……everybody was able to eat as much as they liked …..”. “ …I turned to the guests, and said, ‘Our mother did not want this day to go without a miracle for us, …she wanted to show that our ceremony pleased her…”’
Levitation. I have already mentioned it in blog 196
Not burnt by fire. Once Catherine was sitting by the fire and rotating the spit. She fell in an ecstasy. Her sister-in-law, Lisa, saw it and removed her hand from the spit. Lisa got busy in other chores in the house and did not return to Catherine for several hours. As it happened, Catherine had fallen over the burning embers. Lisa shrieked and dragged her out of the fire. She found out that Catherine’s clothes and body were unaffected by the fire. There was no smell of burning. There was not the slightest trace of ash on her dress.
One day, in church, a lighted candle fell on the veil covering Catherine’s head, while she knelt. The candle kept on burning till all the wax was consumed and then the flame went out. It did not burn the veil and did no harm to Catherine.
This miracle was watched by many of her companions, including Lisa, Alexia, and Francesca.
Driving out evil spirit. A modern man like me does not know what to do with this section, because in modern time we do not see evil spirits possessing human beings. Modern science calls it Hysteria. Jesus Christ drove out demons and Saint Catherine drove out demons, as mentioned in detail by Raymond. I cannot describe them as they were not miracles, but recovery from sicknesses by the grace of Jesus
Close proximity to Jesus. She was extremely close to Jesus. This closeness was acquired after she won an epic battle with the forces of evil for several days. She was a young woman at that time. It started with carnal temptations. She fought them with great fortitude. It progressed to men and women performing vile sexual acts. Foul acts and obscene words were presented to her mind. Throngs of shameless crowds invited her to join them. She would retreat to church, where she would get some help, but not complete protection.
One night a great light appeared and lit the room. Bleeding Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross, was in that vision and her battle ended . She bitterly complained for not helping her.
To be continued
Saturday, April 23, 2016
208. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part thirteen
We were discussing the extraordinary vision that Semia was made to see just at the time of Saint Catherine’s death. A beautiful small girl with facial features of Catherine emerged from a silver tabernacle and joined Jesus, Blessed Virgin and other virgins. Semia had said to herself that if the dream was a creation of the Devil she would miss the Mass and face the anger of her sons for dinner being late. All for oversleeping on account of the dream.
She did not miss the Mass, her sons were very pleased by the delicious food, and she was confronted by a genuinely supernatural event of cooked dinner!
She found the door of Catherine’s house closed. She was told by somebody that Catherine had gone to church. As a matter of fact the body of Catherine had been secretly removed from the house and kept in the chapel behind iron railing in the church of Santa Maria. This was done to avoid the swarm of crowds who would want to touch the dead person’s clothes and feet. They were afraid that the clothes and body may be torn to pieces. Although they tried to keep the secret but soon the news spread in Rome that Saint Catherine had died.
Semia was going home. She happened to pass that church and seeing the crowd asked the reason. She was told that Catherine had died and her body was inside. She shrieked in grief and cursed the women who had misled her. The women apologized and told the reason. Semia was mollified. She then told the crowd that she witnessed the passing of Catherine and her emergence from the silver tabernacle, in a dream. They realized that she was shown this vision to witness the events that transpired as her soul left her body and how Catherine was exalted. So, Semia was the agent chosen to tell it to the world and thus enhance her glory.
There are dozens of miracles of cure of sick, after her death. Here are some that have been narrated by Raymond in his book. Raymond was not in Rome at the time of her death. People told him these events when he tried to collect them for posterity. Catherine could not be buried for three days due to the swarm of people around her dead body.
1. A nun by the name of Domenica could not use her one arm for six months due to some disease. She could not reach her corpse. She, therefore, gave her veil to somebody to touch the virgin’s body. When she got it back she put it on her arm. Her arm was immediately cured.
2. A four year old boy had sinews of his neck contracted due to some disease. Catherine’s arm was made to touch his neck and her veil was wrapped around his neck. After an interval his neck was completely cured.
3. Lucio di Cannarola’s one leg was affected by weakness. With great difficulty he could drag himself with a crutch. He placed virgin’s hand on her leg. He felt an immediate improvement and his leg got cured before he left the church.
4. A girl named Ratozola had terrible leprosy of the face. There was a stinking mass of tissue at her nose and upper lip. She forced herself to the proximity of Catherine’s body against the resistance of people. She touched her diseased parts to virgin’s hands, feet and even her face. She got rid of the horrible disease after sometime and her face became absolutely normal.
5. Ciprio and his wife Lella had a daughter who suffered from consumption. No treatment had worked. The parents brought the girl to Catherine. The girl touched her veil and some beads which had been in contact with the virgin’s body. She got cured.
6. A Roman citizen by the name of Antonio de Lello was passing by the church. When he heard of the miracles he prayed to the virgin to help him get better. He promised a votive offering if he got better. He got better. He fulfilled his promise and told of the miracle to others.
7. A pious woman by the name of Paola was Catherine’s friend and hostess. She was sick and bedridden for four months. She asked people to bring her something which had been in touch with Catherine. An object was found. She touched it in the evening and next morning got out of the bed without assistance. Soon she was free of her sickness.
She told the story to Raymond herself after his return to Rome. The power of God did not decrease as her body was put in the tomb.
8. Giovanni di Neri had a little son who never learned to walk because he could not stand up. The boy was carried to her tomb and put over it. His feet and legs became strong and he could stand up and walk.
9. Giovanni di Tozzo had a bad eye disease. He made a vow to the holy virgin Catherine of Siena. He was immediately cured. He went to her tomb and described the gift he had received.
To be continued
Saturday, April 16, 2016
207. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part twelve
We were discussing the story of the lost piece of Host (consecrated bread used in the ceremony of Holy Communion). Greatly worried Raymond told Catherine that a piece of the Host cannot be found anywhere. To his mild surprise she did not seem perturbed. A faint smile appeared on her face. “Did you look everywhere?” she asked. Raymond said “yes”. “Then why are you perturbed”, she said and smiled again. By this time Raymond became suspicious. He said, “Mother, I truly believe that it was you who took the Host.” “It was somebody else!”, she said. Raymond said, “Please tell me all you know of this matter.”This is what she said:
“…As my confessor I will tell you. It was brought to me. It was offered to me by Jesus Christ! I took it. My companions did not want me to take it today. To avoid upsetting them I agreed. But then I turned to my most kind Savior. He appeared to me, and offered me the fragment by His most holy hands”.
On other occasions, some very trustworthy persons have told Raymond that they have seen the Host flying out of the priest’s hand as he was offering it to the holy virgin.
I have one more episode of change of Catherine’s face to narrate. Catherine used to nurse a woman in the hospital who was dying from cancer of breast. One day as Catherine came into the room, a pleasing light appeared in the room. She looked around for the source of the light, and saw a mantle of light around Catherine, and there was light around her face. Her face had an angelic quality. It did not look like the face of Lapa’s daughter, Catherine.
Miracles after death. The story of Semia, though long, is so fascinating that it deserves to be told with all its details. She was a virtuous woman. When Catherine arrived in Rome, Semia heard of her holiness and tried to spend as much time as possible in her company. She became her close companion. On the day of Catherine’s death (29th April,1380, Sunday, at hour of Terce)she was supposed to get up early, cook food for her demanding five sons, go for High Mass of Sunday, and then rush to the house where Catherine was staying. She overslept in the morning and saw an amazing dream. She saw a most beautiful little girl emerging from a silver tabernacle. Her face looked like that of Catherine. The girl was adorned in shining white dress, necklaces, and on her head were three crowns, one on top of another. Semia was trying to guess who that girl was. Her features resembled Catherine’s but Catherine was a much older person. The girl said to the two boys who were there, “See, she does not recognize me.”Four more graceful boys appeared. They put the crowned girl on a couch. The girl floated to Semia and said “I am Catherine of Siena.”The bridal bed rose in the air. A throne appeared, on which a bejeweled king was seated. He was holding a book in his right hand. The boys laid the bed in front of the throne. The girl got up, and bowed at the king’s feet and worshipped him. The king welcomed Catherine, by name. Further ceremonies followed. They awaited the queen. The queen held Catherine by hand and said, “Welcome to you, my most beloved daughter, Catherine.”Semia also saw many virgins, such as St Agnes, and St Margret.
When Semia woke it was already hour of Terce (9AM). She was late. She thought she was going to miss the Mass. That made her suspect that the vision she had seen was the work of the Devil, to make her miss the Mass. She said to herself, “if I miss the mass, it must have been the work of the Devil, if I find a Mass, it must have been a favor from mother Catherine”. As it happened the Mass was over by the time she reached the church. But then she went to another church and could attend the Mass. Before going to the church she washed and cut the vegetables and meat for the dinner. She locked the front door before she went to the church.
During the Mass, she asked Jesus, that if the vision was truly from Him, she be saved from grumbling of her sons, for food being late. Her sons were arriving at the door by the time she was reaching home. The door was locked. To her intense surprise food had been cooked and dinner was ready. She realized that the Savior had heard her prayer and answered it. She decided to go to Catherine, as soon as possible, and tell her about the miracles. She kept on saying, “Oh dear mother! You are truly a saint. You came in my house with locked door and cooked food for me.”
To be continued
Saturday, April 9, 2016
206. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part eleven
Saint Catherine’s face changed. In blog 197 I have narrated the episode of Raymond observing the change of Catherine’s face into that of a strange man who, fixing grave eyes upon Raymond inspired great fear in him. I have also narrated in blog 201 the dream of the soldier in which Catherine appeared. When the soldier woke up he told his wife his dream and said that he must meet Catherine and see if she is the person who came in his dream. The soldier verified after meeting her that it was she. In blog 203, readers might have read the incident of Andrea, the notorious young man, who saw Jesus and Catherine in the corner of his room. Father Tomasso rushed to Catherine to tell her the story but she already knew the details and could describe the inside of Andrea’s house.
One time Catherine had a great longing for the consecrated host. The desire was so great that Father Raymond relented. The host is consecrated in a special ceremony, and represents the body and blood of Jesus Christ (*). Father Raymond put on the vestments, said the holy prayer, and thus prepared the consecrated host. As he turned as usual to give the general absolution he saw that her face had become like an angel’s and was sending bright rays of light. He could no longer recognize her and said to himself, “That is not Catherine’s face”.
He saw the host rise to a height of three fingers on its own accord and rest on the paten he was holding in his hand. He was stunned with astonishment. He states:
“God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, is my witness that I am not romancing. This was not an illusion created by the Devil because Devil cannot interfere in such an adorable, awesome Sacrosanct”
Another similar incident is recorded by Raymond.
Raymond had come to know Catherine’s frequent need for the Host, as if it was a requisite for her sustenance to live. One day the mass time was approaching, but she had aches and pains in her body. She needed a little more time for pains to go away. She sent a companion to Raymond to delay the conventual Mass, if possible, so that she be able to come and receive the Eucharist. Raymond gladly agreed and went to the choir instead. He said his office and waited.
At the same time, Catherine could not resist her longing and came to the church and sat in the pew. Raymond did not know that she had come and was sitting in the audience. The companion knew that after receiving the Eucharist, Catherine will go in ecstasy (**) for three to four hours, and thus it will be impossible to move her from whatever position she was in. Thus church could not be closed. And this will cause grumbling among the friars, who had to close the church. So, the companion advised her not to take the Eucharist. Catherine meekly agreed. But she started praying fervently. She was a whole length of the church away from Raymond
Lord heard her burning wish for the Host. A companion came to Raymond with the message from Catherine that Raymond can start the mass anytime he wished as she was not going to attend the Communion that day.
Raymond consecrated the bread. As he began to break the bread first into two parts and then into four, the sacred Host broke into three parts, two large and one small. The small one was as big as a kidney bean. He saw the little part jump out of the chalice, and as far as he could tell, it seemed to fall on to the corporal. He did not see where it went after that. He searched every bit of corporal with great care but did not find the lost piece. He was almost in tears. After a while he resumed his search and extended it to the altar but did not find it. He thought of asking the advice of the Prior of the monastery. But then a Prior of another monastery accosted him. He wanted to talk to Catherine urgently about some matter. He could not wait. Therefore Raymond went to Catherine’s house. He was surprised to learn that she was in the church. He did find her in the pews, in ecstasy. Due to the urgency of the lost Host she was gently roused. Raymond started telling her about the lost Host.
To be continued
(*) Host is a piece of consecrated bread. Holy Communion or Eucharist or Sacrament, are synonymous terms used for the rite of putting the Host in the mouth of the receiver. Jesus Christ gave the bread and wine to his disciples during the Last Supper and said 'This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me'. Non-Christian should understand that Christians consider it the body of Christ.
(**)During ecstasy a person is rigid like a statue and oblivious to his/her surroundings
Saturday, April 2, 2016
205. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part ten
I was describing the miracles of multiplication of edibles.
She stayed in Rome in a house with her followers and a group of followers of God whom the Pope had summoned to Rome on Catherine’s suggestion. She had also extended her hospitality to them. There was not a cache of staples of food. All food had to be begged. Sometimes holy virgin also went for begging. At that time there were sixteen men and eight women living with her in that house. She had such trust in Lord that it did not worry her that from where will the foods for everybody come? Catherine had passed the order that each woman should for one week be responsible for household affairs so that the rest could pursue the things related to God or go for pilgrimage of sites in Rome. If there was a shortage of foodstuff this woman was supposed to tell Catherine one day in advance so that she should send somebody for begging or go herself. There came a week when this responsibility fell on Giovanna’s shoulders. Giovanna was a sister of Penance who was from Siena and had accompanied St Catherine on this journey. As it happened, Giovanna forgot this instruction. One evening, there was not enough bread in the bin for four people. When Giovanna realized the enormity of the problem she went to holy virgin. She was very embarrassed and ashamed. Catherine scolded her mildly. Then she told her to ask everybody to sit at the dinner table and serve whatever bread they had. Giovanna said there was not enough bread for 4-5 people. Nevertheless she followed the holy virgin’s instructions. Meanwhile Catherine went to a secluded place and started praying fervently.
All these hungry persons started eating with the one small loaf they had. To everybody’s amazement each person’s loaf never finished! Even when everybody had eaten their full, bread remained. At Catherine’s orders it was distributed to the poor. They burst out singing the praises of the Lord.
Another similar miracle was described to Raymond by Giovanna and Lisa (sister in law of Catherine, who was also a Dominican nun). This happened in the week of Lent, in the same year, and in the same house.
In 1375, in Pisa, Catherine became extremely weak. Raymond thought she was going to die. Catherine would not take anything internally such as milk, eggs, meat, sugar water, etc. Raymond recollected that a certain wine called vernaccia, if rubbed on wrists and temples is helpful in such a situation. A friend, Gherado’s, knew of a person who had a bottle of vernaccia. The person said he would willingly have given a barrel of vernaccia, but the barrel had been empty for three months. They went to the barrel and one could readily see that it had been empty for some time. To make sure, the owner pulled the spigot out. As the bung was pulled out, a generous amount of vernaccia gushed out and gathered on the floor. The owner gathered everybody who lived in the house and asked them if anybody amongst them had put wine in the barrel. All of them denied it and stated that nobody could put wine in the barrel without their knowledge. The news spread in the neighborhood like wild fire. Everybody acknowledged that it was a miracle of God.
A strange twist occurred due to Catherine’s prayer.
A few days after the incident Catherine recovered and went into the city to see somebody. As soon as the news of her arrival spread people gathered. Shopkeepers closed their shops to see this woman who could fill an empty flask with wine. When holy virgin learnt the cause of this hubbub, she became quite upset. She implored the Lord, “All your other servants can live amongst people but not I. ……..By your infinite mercy I beg you to have pity on me and dry up all the wine.”
A second miracle, even greater than the first happened, wine went as sour as vinegar!
There has been lot of discussion about these miracles amongst people living at that time and between scholars over the centuries. Some even thought that these were Satan’s doing; an optical illusion, that is why wine could not stay as wine. Raymond had the following interpretation: Both miracles were the work of Lord. Catherine was not involved in the first. She even did not know about the first miracle. Lord wanted to show by the filling of the barrel that He cared for the holy virgin, because with that miracle people will praise her and realize her worth with the Lord. Lord produced the wine to cure her. By the second miracle He showed how much He cared for her wishes and desires. He accepted her profound humility.
To be continued.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
204. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part nine
Saint Catherine’s confessor Fra Tommaso and Friar Giorgio Naddi were travelling together. They were followed by a band of robbers. Soon the brigands waylaid them and removed them from their horses. They took all their possessions. To hide their robbery they talked between themselves of killing them and burying their bodies in the jungle. Friars promised that they won’t disclose this deed to a soul, but it had no effect on the miscreants. No human help was available. In desperation, Fra Tomasso called, “O sweetest daughter …..Come to our aid in this tremendous danger”.
He had not finished his call for help when one of the robbers suddenly burst out with the words, “why should we kill these good friar, they won’t breathe to a soul”. They talked some more. Then they not only spared their lives but returned all their possessions and horses. As I have already mentioned Catherine was twenty-four miles away with a companion. At the very moment Father Tommaso called, Catherine said, “My father is calling me, and I know he is in great distress”. She got up and went to a place where she prayed.
Prophecies. In 1375, most of the cities and lands that belonged to the Roman Church rebelled against Pope Gregory X1. One day the news of insurrection of Perugia came while Raymond and Catherine were sitting together in Pisa. They were both saddened by the news. Then Catherine said, “But this is nothing as compared to what is going to come”.
“You mean something worse than this is going to happen”
“Yes! A time is going to come when there will be a schism in the Roman Church. It will break into two”
Father Raymond was horrified by the thought of breakup of Christendom.
Catherine said, “Those will be terrible times. You will be alive when this happens, so you will be a witness to the events”
When the schism occurred in the reign of the next Pope, I reminded Catherine of her prophecy years ago in Pisa. Catherine said that even worse things are going to happen in the border areas.
Raymond asked her that what will happen to the Holy Church.
She replied, “After all these disasters, God will purify the Church. It will rise and shine to greater glories”
Things happened as she had predicted.
Multiplication of edibles. There was a great famine in Siena. A time came when fresh wheat became unavailable. People were obliged to eat old wheat/flour which had become moldy. Catherine was staying with her inseparable companion Alessia. They were eating bad wheat like everybody else. When the fresh crop came new wheat became available. Alessia decided to throw the small amount of moldy wheat away as the Lord had mercy on them. Catherine advised her not to throw the old one away, because Lord had made it. She advised her to give it to the poor, who did not even have that available to them. Alessia said that she did not want to do it because it will be on her conscience that she gave sour bread to the poor, she would rather give good wheat to the poor. Catherine said, “Bring me the moldy flour you want to throw and some water, I will make bread myself for the poor of Jesus”
She started making loaves from the moldy flour. Her speed of making was so fast that in a small amount of time she made large amount of loaves. As a matter of fact she made 4-5 times more loaves than would have been possible from the small amount of flour that was available. Everybody was amazed. They were sent to the bakehouse for cooking. Then they were eaten at the dinner table by everybody. There was nothing wrong with them. People remarked that they had never eaten such sweet bread.
That was not the end of the miracle.
Bread was distributed to the poor and the friars. The bin in which loaves were stored, kept on producing loaves for several weeks!
Thus God performed a miracle with three parts; Moldy bread was transformed to sweet bread, the amount of dough was increased, and numbers of loaves in the bin were multiplied.
When Raymond heard of this miracle he thought of investigating all the facts of this case. He asked holy virgin herself. She told him the following: “I was seized with the desire to help the poor and not to waste any food which Lord had made. I suddenly saw Blessed Mary and many holy spirits and angels in front of me. She asked me to proceed with the task and with her own most holy hands started making bread with me. The loaves increased in number due to her holiness.”
She was ordered to go to Rome by Pope Urban VI. Many persons accompanied her on this journey to Rome. They had gathered around her from all over the province of Tuscany. She was instructing these sons and daughters in the way of holiness.To be continued
Saturday, March 19, 2016
203. ST. Catherine of Siena. Part eight
Andrea de’Bellanti was a young man notorious for his wild and blasphemous ways. He was a compulsive gambler and often lost money. After losing money he would curse God and blame Him. One time he went to a church and stomped on a crucifix and burned a picture of Blessed Mary. He became afflicted with a mortal sickness as a young man. That made him even bitterer. Father Tommaso used to plead with him but it was of no use. One time, discouraged, Tomasso stopped at Catherine’s house and asked her to pray for him with God. She started praying. Part of the prayer was ‘Did You not come to take away man’s sins,…..O Lord grant that my brother’s heart may be softened and made to yield to the working of Your Holy Spirit’
She prayed for the whole night.
She heard Lord’s promise.
“ I shall put away my sword of justice. This sinful man shall find the grace and favor you asked”
In the morning Andrea asked his wife to see a priest. She could not believe his words.
He told her the reason. He saw Jesus standing in the corner of his room along with Catherine. She asked him to go for confession. Father Tomasso rushed to Catherine to tell her the story but she already knew the details and could describe the inside of Andrea’s house. This story spread all over Siena. . People started asking the holy woman for intercession in their feuds
Nanni di Ser Vanni was an influential and evil man. His specialty was starting private feuds. He was like an agent of devil, causing malice and strife while outwardly pretending peace. There was a party who had killed a man of the opposite party. The guilty party wanted to make peace but Nanni was the obstacle. A holy man, Friar Williams, extracted a promise out of Nanni that he would go and listen to Catherine. He went to see Catherine but she was not at home. However, Father Raymond happened to be there. Father Raymond escorted him to the private room of the holy virgin, so that he should not go away. Nanni said that he had come to this place only because he had given a promise to Friar Williams to see Catherine, but he had no intention of generating peace in this fight, although he could cause peace if he wanted to, and he had not before told this secret that he did not want peace to any living soul. As he was about to leave Catherine came home. She made him sit and asked him why he had come. Nanni told the whole story which he had told to Raymond, again, stressing, that he did not want to make peace. Catherine told him that he was putting his soul in mortal danger. She cajoled and argued. Soon it was evident that his mind was closed and words were having no effect.
At that point she started silently praying, which Raymond could discern. Suddenly Nanni said, “I don’t want to be completely obstinate. I will make a concession. I have four feuds to settle. You can do whatever you want about one of them”. He gave details of that strife. “But now I must go.” But Instead of leaving he lingered. He said, “I already feel so peaceful” Then he said,” Lord God a power holds me. I cannot go and I cannot say no.” And he burst into tears.
He fell on his knees in front of Catherine. He said, “Holy virgin I will do as you say. Not only in this matter but in all matters.”
Meanwhile Catherine had gone into ecstasy. She came to her senses and thanked the Lord. She said, “I could see that I was not succeeding. I prayed to the Lord. He at once heard my prayer. Now do the penance, if you do not want to run into anymore troubles”
Nanni completely turned his life around. He confessed his sins to Raymond.
For some reason he was arrested and was rumored to be beheaded. Father Raymond was very upset. He rushed to Catherine and said “Mother, as long as Nanni was with the devil he had marvelous life. Now that he has turned to God, his life has become very difficult”. Catherine consoled Raymond that may be he is being cleansed in this world instead of receiving punishment in the next world. But she assured him that Lord who had mercy on him in the first place will release him from prison also. Soon he was freed from prison as she had predicted, but he suffered monetarily. Then he became very sick. However, his devotion increased. He donated a castle to Catherine, which was converted to a convent called, “Holy Mary, Queen of the Angels”
Now an episode of what happened when someone in mortal danger called her for help twenty-four miles away.To be continued.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Catherine of Siena. Part seven
Jesus Christ had given her a special power by which she could recognize the nature of a person. I quote: “…. I( Jesus ) give your soul a special illumination which will enable you to see the beauty or ugliness of all the souls that come to you……..and not only of the souls present before your eyes, but all whose salvation you ardently long for….even though you have never seen them.”
Raymond acted as an interpreter during the first meeting between Catherine and the Supreme Pontiff Gregory, because she could not speak Latin and he could not speak Italian. Catherine said that she could smell the stench of all the vices of hell in the Roman Court. The Pope on hearing this asked her that how long she had been at the Roman Court? I told him that she has been at the court only for few days. “How have you managed to learn so much?” The Pope asked.
Catherine attitude and demeanor suddenly changed. I saw it with my own eyes. She suddenly stood up. A majesty came in her posture. These words came forth from her mouth, “ To the honor of the Almighty God I dare to say that I could smell the sins being committed in the Roman Court better when I was in Siena where I was born than the people who committed the and are still committing them.”The Pope was speechless…..
She could sometimes see people coming to visit her from a distance. Two great scholars, Brother Gabriel, master of sacred theology, and Father John Tantucci, also a master of sacred theology, were discussing the miraculous stories circulating about Catherine. Brother Gabriel lived in fancy quarters and slept under silk sheets
“It is a scandal!” Brother Gabriel said. “She presumes to teach others. Can she read? Does she know scriptures? Who taught her? This ignorant woman can lead thousands astray. Perhaps Dominicans don’t know how to stop her, but we do. We should stop her for the good of the Holy Church.”. The two masters of sacred theology decided to pay Catherine a visit. Their aim was to reveal her lack of knowledge. They were going to ask her questions. They thought she won’t know the answers. Her ignorance will shame her in front of her followers
Catherine was talking with some friends. Suddenly she stopped talking and said, “Soon you will see two big fish caught in the net.” She started praying fervently. Soon a servant announced the arrival of the masters. She made them sit on a bench and herself sat at their feet. The two theologians were ready. First Brother Gabriel and then Father John fired questions. Catherine listened intently. When her turn came, she responded by lashing out at them. “How dare both of you live in such luxury”. She looked at Brother Gabriel directly and said, “How can you, a son of Saint Francis, live in such comfort and extravagance. How can you know kingdom of God. For the sake of Jesus Christ crucified abandon this mode of life”. She said many other similar things. The effect on the two scholars was nothing short of miraculous.
Brother Gabriel fell on his knees in front of her. He offered her the keys to his house and asked her to give everything in the house to the poor. He only wanted to keep the clothes on his back and the breviary. He was going to follow the example of Saint Francis from now onwards. He became a changed man. Soon he left his post as master-provincial and went to Florence where he waited on his fellow-friars and served them meals. Father Tantucci did not own much but he also sold what he had. He became a faithful disciple of Catherine and kept her company.
The conversion of the two scholars was not a unique event. Saint Catherine had the power to overwhelm one’s defenses and turn one’s life upside down. Father Lazzarino was a Franciscian who taught philosophy at the University of Siena. He was not impressed by the stories about Catherine. He came to meet her. Father Dominic recorded the conversation. There was awkwardness. They exchanged pleasantries. When the time for leave came, Catherine knelt before Lazzarino and asked for his blessing, which he graciously gave. She asked him to pray for her soul. As a courtesy he asked her to do the same for him. As he left his impression was that she was a good woman but nothing extraordinary.
Next evening he started weeping, uncontrollably, and without any reason. He could not control his weeping during the night and the next day. As the day proceeded he became exhausted and confused. He could not think of the reason for his weeping. He begged God for help. A silent voice arose from the depth of his brain, “Did you treat my servant Catherine appropriately? Were you not mere condescending when you asked her to pray for your soul?” As the day broke, he went to Catherine’s house, and prostrated himself humbly in front of her. She did likewise. She already knew about his weeping. She advised him to become poor and humble. To abandon his vanities and live like his model Saint Francis.
He sold all his belongings, even his books and lived a life of strict poverty like Saint Francis. People started saying that he has been be-Catherined.
To be continued with two more stories of conversion of hardened souls