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