29 April – Memorial for Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor
Catherine (1347-1380) She was born in Siena and was the youngest child in a large family. At the age of six, she had a vision in which Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her parents wanted her to marry, but she became a Dominican tertiary. Seeking perfection, she entered the Third Order of the Dominicans when she was still in her teens. She was a mystic and stigmatist. She received a vision in which she was in mystical marriage with Christ, and the Infant Christ presented her with a wedding ring.
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.
She was counsellor to Pope Gregory XI and Pope Urban VI. She was proclaimed Doctor of the Church on 4 October 1970.
-Universalis and Patron Saint Index
The apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:
‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.
T was quite a troublemaker in high school. He had a tendency to get hauled into the principal’s office for a variety of infractions. It got to the point where he was eventually expelled from the school which we both attended and sent off to boarding school. Although we were casual acquaintances at that time, it wasn’t until when we entered college (after he got things back in order) that we became close friends. In fact, we didn’t even go to the same university. It just happened that one day he called me during a term break and we decided to get together to catch up. I didn’t choose T to be my friend. In actual fact, I was initially hesitant to meet up with him, but I’m glad I did. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have reconnected and I wouldn’t have developed such a strong friendship that endures even till this day.
In many ways, my Christian walk has been a similar experience in that I never proactively initiated a relationship with God before becoming a believer. Yet there were numerous times that I had been introduced to Him in my youth, but was just too proud and self-centered to accept Him. I had this view in my mind that being a Christian meant something completely different than what I realize it to be now. Yet He never stopped seeking me out. For that, I am eternally grateful.
As C.S Lewis writes – “In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another… the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you”, can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another”. The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Prayer – Lord, we pray for our friends who are non-believers. We pray that you use us as your instruments to reveal to them Your truth – that Your one and only son, Jesus, died on the cross for their sins. And so there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Thanksgiving – Father, we give thanks to you for the friends in our lives that have stood by us through times of joy, happiness, pain, sorrow and growth. May these relationships endure this world and into eternity.