29 Apr – Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin, Doctor
She was born in Siena and, seeking perfection, entered the Third Order of the Dominicans when she was still in her teens. In 1370 she was commanded by a vision to leave her secluded life and enter the public life of the world. She wrote letters to many major public figures and carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, urging him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States. She burned with the love of God and her neighbour. As an ambassador she brought peace and harmony between cities She fought hard to defend the liberty and rights of the Popes and did much for the renewal of religious life. She also dictated books full of sound doctrine and spiritual inspiration. She died on 29 April 1380. In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church.
Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I started my day off by spending some time on scripture and then a lot more time reading up on the life of St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast day we celebrate today. We are all called to live life like the saints did and so I took everything I read and reflected on what it would be like to be her in this century.
The reflection started and ended with this fact – St. Catherine of Siena was the 24th child of 25 children. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. I couldn’t fathom how hard it would have been for all of them! All would agree, it is a very daunting task for today’s families. I asked myself, “Would I even attempt such a feat?” I am a mother of one, and that itself is a huge challenge. Having 24 more would be great, if I had 24 people to help me.
I am, however, a single mum and I echo the words of the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Julian Leow, when he addressed the youth in his homily. He said “Youth – I do not envy you. Youth – I do not envy you.” He said it slowly and repeated it twice. Powerful and very true. The world we are raising our kids in today is a trying place. I can relate to this because though my daughter is only 7, she has been accidentally exposed to pornographic material via someone else’s phone through a conversion with a girl her age, who said she would like to try it out with her. One can only imagine the horror I experienced when she explained in detail what she had seen on the phone, as she innocently scrolled through this person’s ‘Gallery’. The girl had used it to take some shots prior to that.
My reflection on St. Catherine of Siena had me pleading and seeking her intercession for our Lord’s protection over my child and children across the world, who will encounter this new drug sweeping across the Internet. As parents, we can try to control our children’s usage of phones, tablets and monitor the content they view. But without God, all of this will be in vain as we are fighting a perverted form of love that is portrayed a concept in a very appealing form.
Though raising children may seem like a mammoth of a task, I draw strength from Christ’s reassuring words in today’s Gospel acclamation – “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” This I know and this I will remember; for His light permeates all darkness.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Fiona Biggs)
Prayer: Lord, help me remain steadfast in my vocation as a parent, a child, an adult, a teacher, an aunt, a godparent and a friend to all. Help me carry this cross so that I maybe pleasing to you. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Father God, you who sent your only begotten Son into the ugliness of this world to shine bright for us, I honour You, praise You and adore you profoundly for the gift of your Son to us.