Posted by: fvbcdm | April 29, 2017

Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena (29 April 2017)

Today we Dominicans and many others throughout the world celebrate with special pride and joy the feast of our Sister, Saint Catherine of Siena. Only three women have been declared Doctors of the Church, and she was the earliest one to be so honored. The life of this remarkable woman was very closely associated with the Popes.  When she was a little girl of only six, Our Lord appeared to her.  In her vision, she saw Christ dressed in the vestments of the Pope, and enthroned among saints and angels in heaven.  The beauty of the vision gave her a tremendous awareness of the connection of Our Savior and his vicar on earth, the Pope.  This was the means chosen by Our Lord to correct a major problem in the Church.  About forty years before Catherine’s birth, the Pope, under the influence of French cardinals and politicians, had left Rome and gone to live in Avignon, a French city on the Rhone river in what is now southern France.  He and his successors remained in Avignon for seventy years, much to the scandal and demoralization of the Church and its people of the time.  This Italian girl, in her twenties, moved by the Holy Spirit, exerted such influence upon the Pope that he finally gave in to her begging, pleading, threatening, and scolding, and returned to Rome where he belonged and where the Popes have continued to reside ever since, as they had since the time of Saint Peter.  The Pope is the Bishop of Rome.

If ever there was a saint who was grateful to Our Lord for his establishment of the papacy, and devoted to the current occupant on the seat of Peter, it was Catherine of Siena.  The two principal criteria by which a Catholic can be identified are these: that he or she believe in, and worthily receive, the Holy Eucharist regularly, and that he or she be in communion with and obedient to the Pope, the Bishop of Rome.  We here in America have come to believe that our democratic form of government gives us the right to criticize our political leaders, to lampoon and ridicule them, and to disobey them whenever we can get away with it.  That immature and irresponsible mentality cannot be carried over into the Church.  We do not elect our Popes; the Church is by no means a democracy.  It teaches and governs by divine authority.  And Christ said to Saint Peter, the first Pope, “Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”   That total authority has been passed down from Peter to all his successors, of whom [Pope Francis] is the [265th]. I do not necessarily agree with everything that every pope has done; we all know that some of our popes were not good men and were scandalous pontiffs.  But they never erred in matters of faith or morals.  On the other hand, in the last two centuries, the Church and the world have been blessed with some of the finest popes in the history of Christendom.

If we want to be the Catholics we ought to be, let us ask Saint Catherine of Siena to help us in that very noble aspiration.  “He who hears you, hears Me,” Jesus said to the apostles and their successors.  And to Saint Peter, “Feed my lambs . . . feed my sheep.”  Let us accept the “feeding” of our Popes for in doing so, we are nourished by Christ Our Lord himself.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.


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