Tuesday, April 29, 2008

St. Catherine of Siena

"Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.... Charity is the sweet and holy bond which links the soul with its Creator: it binds God with man and man with God..." -St. Catherine of Siena

Catherine Benincasa (1347-1380) was the youngest child in a large family... with twenty-three siblings! Catherine had a twin sister, but she did not live very long....
When she was six years old, her mother sent her on an errand to deliver a package with her brother to her older sister who was already married. As they walked back home, they took a short cut through an open field. As they walked through, Catherine and her brother both agreed on picking the many beautiful flowers that grew there. There was also a Dominican church nearby, and as Catherine looked above it, she saw some people standing and kneeling in before a great throne. A King was seated there, and He seemed quite pleased with the people around Him, including Catherine. Then, she saw Him turn in her direction and smile. Catherine went down to her knees, as her brother stared at her, wondering what in the world she was doing. Her brother then asked her in a confused manner what was wrong with her. But Catherine did pay any attention to her brother, for she knew who the King was. Then Catherine saw the King raised His Hand to bless her. A few seconds later her brother started pulling her to her feet and at once the beautiful vision was gone.

Sometime later, she thought of the saints that had been hermits. St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Paul, St. Romuald, and even St. Mary Magdalen! Catherine then made her decision to be like them too, since those hermits ended up being saints... and the saints are God's friends, right? Withough hesitation, she got up one early morning and took from the kitchen some food and drink, silently bid goodbye to her fast-asleep family, then set off to find her own place to be a hermit. Without looking back home, she let her thoughts run off... But before she thought of the possibility of her family looking for her, she spotted the perfect cave not so far away from where she was walking. Catherine gave a cry of joy, and ran to the cave, giving thanks to God on the way. She soon discovered that there was a little brook nearby, and inside the cave it felt much cooler than outside in the burning sun.
A little later, as she was spending quite some time kneeling in deep prayer, she her a voice lovingly asking her to go back to her home to be a saint there, and not in a cave. Catherine was disappointed at first, but she knew that God had special plans for her there. Catherine ran toward the village, desperately praying that her family would not be cross with her. Suddenly, her surroundings changed from a peaceful place, to a crowded street. Catherine's prayer was answered... Now, it was time to be a saint at home...

Novena Prayer to Saint Catherine of Siena
O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, Saint Catharine, because of your extraordinary virtue and the immense good which you accomplished for the Church and society, you are acclaimed and blessed by all people. Oh, turn your benign countenance to me who, confident of your powerful patronage, calls upon you with all the ardor of affection and begs you to obtain, by your prayer, the favors I so ardently desire.

You, who were a victim of charity, who in order to benefits your neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and the hope of all, you cannot help but hear the prayers of those who fly into your heart - that heart which you received from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.

Yes, O seraphic virgin, demonstrate once again proof of you power and of your flaming charity, so that your name will be ever more blessed and exalted; grant that we, having experienced your most efficacious intercession here on earth, may come one day to thank you in heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with you. Amen.

info from the book, Saint Catherine of Siena, The Story of the Girl Who Saw Saints in the Sky, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, and pic, quote, and prayer from here

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