St. Catherine of Siena

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Have you ever had a saint burst into your life and you’re not sure why? St. Catherine of Siena has been pursuing me recently, so I became inspired to look more closely at her life and teachings.

I am a convert who has been Catholic for 32 years and I continue to be amazed at the lives of the saints and how we can develop such personal relationships with them. The saints watch over us and assist us when we call on them. They are our heavenly friends who teach us and intercede for us at different times in our lives and stand along side us on our march toward heaven.

St. Catherine of Siena is a doctor of the Church, canonized in 1461, and she is a patroness of Italy and Europe. She was a third order Dominican who lived to the age of 33. She was a spiritual guide to many, and in the words of Pope Benedict, “guided  people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory XI who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.”

She had a profound “mystical marriage” to Christ whom she loved with intimate faithfulness. She is one of a small group of saints who Pope Benedict identified as having an extraordinary devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

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I feel connected to St. Catherine in many ways; I admire her directness and the poignant simplicity in her words inspired by her love of Christ and her understanding of the spiritual life. “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.”

It’s funny how sentiments from centuries ago resonate in our times. “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.” 

Her words inspire me to deeper reflection with Lectio Divina.“All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’”

Just as our friendships with certain people seem to start almost naturally, and can feel like we’ve known them forever, our friendships with saints can happen in the same way. 

During this month of All Saints, St. Catherine nudged me along as she became our Walking with Purpose table name. I discovered that was the saint in a small image that I had in my kitchen (who I mistakenly thought was St. Teresa of Avila until a friend cleared that up!) St. Catherine’s reflections jumped off the page as I was preparing SoulCore Rosary meditations for All Souls Day. And I am blessed to lead SoulCore at, where else but, St. Catharine of Siena Catholic Church.

I continue to pray for this amazing saint’s intercession to help me stay centered on Christ, to be courageous in speaking the truth and guiding others to Christ with humility. May we all open our  hearts to this saint, friend and “coach” as we seek to discern and live out the mission Christ has in mind for each of us.

Rest

The Apostle John resting with Jesus at the Last Supper.

The Apostle John resting with Jesus at the Last Supper.

I love Sunday, but sometimes I feel a little guilty about resting. The Third Commandment asks us to rest on the Sabbath, and to keep it holy, but is this still relevant in our culture? 

Yes, of course, and perhaps more than ever, because so much is gained from rest -- even more now in our open 24/7, online, always open, technology-driven culture.

I don’t want Sunday to feel like the other days and I hope you feel that way too.

After Mass, I typically do peaceful things that I enjoy like reading, napping, praying, stretching, getting outdoors, and spending time with me family. 

I use author and speaker Matthew Kelly’s phrase ‘carefree timelessness’ in regard to Sunday activities. I want to enjoy the people and activities without too much focus on time and accomplishment.

So much good happens when we rest.

With our physical bodies, rest is a time for muscle repair and replenishment. Exercising our muscles causes little micro-tears in the muscle that allow it to grow and get stronger, but that can only occur when we rest.

Taking breaks from working, thinking, and doing, along with adequate sleep and stress management provide us with renewed energy and strength. This rest and activity cycle helps us to get stronger. 

Rest can also help us renew our spiritual lives. 

Caring for a family, working, volunteering and all the other wonderful activities that fill our week, while rewarding, can sometimes cause little ‘micro-tears’ in our spiritual lives. Rest can help provide a renewal of the heart and body and refreshes us spiritually and physically and gives us strength for the road ahead.

I depend on Sunday to be a reset where I can slow down, spend more time with the Lord, pray and be gentle to myself and those around me. When I am able to do this, I start the week with more calm and more Christ-centeredness and it helps me maintain healthy habits of prayer and action during the busier weekdays. 

Are you someone whose job requires you to work on Sunday? Thanks be to God for you as we need medical pros, police, fire, etc. to be there for us! Setting aside another day as your rest day is fine (I heard a priest share this advice.)

Rest can mean different things to you and to me. There is no clear definition of rest -- and that can make it challenging to live out. 

But Jesus is always inviting us to rest with him and He is waiting for us to jump into his arms and be renewed with his never-ending love.

Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28