Finding a bold friend in St. Catherine of Siena

| Alyssa Bormes | April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

With her April 29 feast day right around the corner, it seems like a good idea to talk about a friend.

I met her in 2002. It was my first pilgrimage, and I had no idea what to expect. We were in Siena, Italy, visiting the relics and following in the footsteps of St. Catherine of Siena. Other people on the trip seemed to already know her, but I had just come back to the Church and didn’t really know any saints, except for a little about Mary.

My fellow pilgrims would say things like, “Don’t you just love St. Catherine?” I nodded, because I was certain that I did love her. It was great to hear the stories of how she had interceded in their lives. When someone asked if I had a devotion to her, I was a little shy about saying that I didn’t really know her, but came to know her through my companions and the city.

Who is Catherine of Siena? Well, she’s a saint! She was born in 1347 and died shortly after her 33rd birthday. She knew from a young age that she would be consecrated to Christ. At 16, she became a Dominican Tertiary and began a life of solitude. A few years later she began to help the sick and poor. This continued, although her life became much more public. She helped the papacy return to Rome. As she preached, confessors accompanied her, as those who heard her came home through the sacrament. She wrote and dictated her visions, and her writings are still accessible today. In short, Catherine was a bold woman of the Church.

As I said earlier, she is a friend. Perhaps what attracted me was her boldness. Having been away from the Church for 17 years, I had the mistaken idea that everyone in the Church was more of a quiet kind of holy. This was troubling to me; once someone told me that even when I am quiet, my soul is loud. Did the Church have a place for a bold gal like me?

Yes. And Catherine showed me the way. First, she calmed me a bit with, “I am the fire, and you are the sparks.” She is speaking of God as the fire. I felt a fire within me, and Catherine made it clear that my own spark was welcomed.

She reminded me of God’s forgiveness: “Isn’t God more ready to  forgive than we are to sin? And isn’t he our doctor, and we the sick ones?”

And then she kept calling to me with, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” It has only taken 50 years for me to understand that I should do what I love. It seems far too early to say that I have set the world on fire, but the spark is there, and mixed with your spark, and her spark, we can set the world ablaze with the love of God.

St. Catherine of Siena, thank you for being a great friend. Please, pray for us!

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

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Category: Everyday Mercies