Posted by: fvbcdm | November 25, 2014

Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (25 November 2014)

When we say the morning offering, by which we consecrate the entire day to God, we usually specify that we want to offer the day, among other intentions, in reparation for our sins. We know that we are sinners, and that we commit daily faults and sins—not of a grave or serious nature, we hope, but sin nonetheless.  And we want to make atonement for these offenses against God as soon as we can. The enemies of the Church often make fun of the “Catholic guilt complex.”  That is because they neither love God very much nor care about the offenses they commit against his holy will.  So sin, to them, is unimportant and atonement unnecessary and neurotic.  To those who love God, sin is to be avoided or at least atoned for.

In the writings of Saint Gertrude, a famous German contemplative nun of the 13th century, we find her eager to make atonement for her sins by offering to our heavenly Father the sufferings that Our Lord Jesus Christ underwent all his life. We know that he suffered grievously, and we know that he did so in reparation for the sins of humankind, including us in particular.  And he tells us in the gospel, “If you want to be followers of mine, take up your cross daily and follow me.”  Jesus knows quite well that our human condition provides us with DAILY sufferings, and we can unite these to his passion and death in making atonement or reparation for our sins.  This is why some of the great mystics have thirsted for suffering.  This is why Saint John of the Cross said, “If I were to spend a single day without suffering, I would consider it a day wasted.” This is why God has granted to some of his chosen souls, like Saints Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, and Padre Pio in our own time, the gift of the stigmata—the wounds in hands and feet and side replicating those which were inflicted upon him at the time of his crucifixion. Those wounds were very painful, and gave to those who suffered them the opportunity to be victims of atonement for the sins of the world. We don’t have the stigmata, but we do have daily frustrations, sorrows, irritations, worries, and all the little crosses inherent in daily life. Let us gladly offer these in atonement for our sins and those of others. Let us never give ourselves over to whining, “Why me?” as do those who don=t understand the value of suffering and the need for atonement. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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