April 29, 2017

Catherine of Siena

April 29, 2017:  St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor

  • 'Doctor's office' tie:  Catherine of Siena, "doctor" of the Church (OK; I put this on just for the selfie :-)
  • 'Dove' and 'owl' pins:  "Select men filled with the Spirit and wisdom" (1st reading)
  • 'Hands' pin:  The apostles prayed, laying hands on the chosen men (1st reading)
  • 'Ukuleles' shirt:  Give thanks to the Lord on harp and lyre (stringed instruments :-) (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord's eyes are on those who fear and hope in him (psalm)
  • 'Boat' tie bar:  The disciples embarked in a boat... (gospel)
  • 'Walker' pin:  They saw Jesus walking on the sea (gospel)
  • White shirt and socks:  Easter season; Catherine of Siena, virgin
          Listen

          For Psalm 33
          Pope Francis
          Cairo homily:  Peace!  Tomorrow's gospel about the journey to Emmaus can be summed up:  death, resurrection, and life.
          Death:  The disciples are returning, full of despair and disappointment, to life as usual.  The Master is dead:  the crisis of the cross buried their hope; his defeat killed their aspirations.  They couldn't believe their Master, who raised others from the dead and healed the sick, would end up on the cross.  Why didn't God save him from such a death?  His death was the death of what they thought God to be.  But in fact they were buried in the tomb of their limited understanding.  How often do we not transcend our own ideas of God, a god created in our image!  We despair by refusing to believe in God’s omnipotence of of love, forgiveness, and life!  The disciples recognized Jesus in the “breaking of the bread.”  Unless we open our eyes and shatter our hard hearts and prejudices, we'll never recognize God.
          Resurrection:  In their despair, Jesus walks beside the disciples and makes them see he's “the Way, Truth, and Life.”  Jesus turns their despair into life; when human hope vanishes, divine hope can shine.  “What's impossible with men is possible with God”  In our failure and helplessness, when we realize we're not the best, self-sufficient, the center of our world, God turns our night to dawn, our affliction to joy, our death to resurrection; he turns us back to Jerusalem, life, and the victory of the Cross.  After meeting the Lord, the disciples returned with joy and confidence, ready to bear witness.  He made them rise from the tomb of their unbelief and sorrow.  Encountering the Lord, crucified and risen, they discovered Scripture's meaning, the meaning of the apparent defeat of the cross.  If you don't pass from the cross to resurrection, you condemn yourself to despair!  You can't encounter God without crucifying your notion of a god. 
          Life:  The encounter with the Risen Jesus transformed them; meeting Christ transforms every life, making what's barren fruitful.  The Church is born of faith in the resurrection.  “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching and your faith are in vain.”  The Lord vanished from their sight teach us we can't hold on to Jesus as he appeared in history:  “Blessed those who believe yet haven't seen.”  The Church needs to know Jesus lives within her and gives her life in the Eucharist, scripture, and the sacraments.  Those disciples realized it and returned to Jerusalem to share their experience.  Their experience teaches us full churches are of no use if God isn't in our hearts.  Prayer is of no use if it doesn't lead to loving others.  Our religiosity means nothing unless inspired by faith and charity.  For God, it's better to be an unbeliever than a hypocrite!  True faith makes us more charitable, merciful, honest, and more humane; it moves us to love without counting the cost, without distinction, without preference.  It makes us see others not as an enemies but people to love and help.  It spurs us on to spread, defend, and live the culture of encounter, dialogue, and respect.  It gives us courage to forgive, to help the fallen, to do works of mercy, to protect others' rights with zeal.  The more we grow in faith, the more we grow in humility and awareness of our littleness.
          God is pleased by a faith our lives proclaim; the only fanaticism believers can have is of charity!  Now return to your Jerusalem, your daily lives, families, work, and country.  Open your hearts to the Lord, and let him transform your uncertainty into a positive force for yourselves and for others.  Love your friends and enemies; believers' strength and treasure is a life of love!  May the Holy Family enlighten and bless you....  Full text
          To Coptic orthodox leader:  In the celebration of Easter we relived the experience of the first disciples who together “rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”  Our common worship of the Risen One and our embrace of peace make that paschal joy more precious.  As we progress on our ecumenical journey, recall our predecessors' Common Declaration acknowledged Christ is “perfect God with respect to his divinity and perfect man with respect to his humanity” and “our Lord and God and Savior and King”; we confessed that we belong to Jesus and that he is our all and that, because we belong to him, we can no longer go our separate ways or take refuge behind the pretext of differing interpretations, from the other.  "Our communion... represents a deep and fundamental reality" (Ecumenical Meeting).  There's an ecumenism of gestures, words, commitment, and a growing effective communion in living relation with the Lord Jesus, rooted in faith and grounded on our baptism.  There's “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  We constantly set out to hasten the day of our full communion around the Lord's altar.

          The saints, already one, impel us to be a living image of the “Jerusalem above.”  Peter and Mark must rejoice in our encounter.  Mark put Peter's profession of faith, in answer to Jesus' question, “Who do you say I am?,” at the heart of his gospel.  Today few raise that question, and fewer answer it with the joy of knowing Jesus, whom we have the grace of confessing together.  We're called to bear witness to Jesus, to live our faith and carry it to the world, speaking the language of gratuitous, concrete love.  We speak the common language of charity.  Let's undertake charitable works together; through our concrete daily lived witness, the Spirit will surely open paths to unity.  Thank you for the fraternal attention you show the Coptic Catholic Church and the hospitality you offered to last year's Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue meeting.  
          Peter reciprocates Mark's affection by calling him “my son,” but Mark and his apostolic activity are also associated with Paul, who before being martyred mentions Mark’s great usefulness and speaks of him frequently.  Fraternal charity and communion in mission are evangelical seeds we water together that grow with God's help.
          The ecumenism of blood also deepens our ecumenical journey.  As Jesus came “with water and blood,” our new life of love in our common baptism can cost our life.  So many in this land shed their blood rather than denying the Lord and yielding to evil; their innocent blood unites us.  Your sufferings are our sufferings.  Let us oppose violence by preaching and sowing goodness and fostering concord, praying that these sacrifices may foster full communion and peace.
          The signs God worked in Egypt and at the Red Sea were followed by the miracle of monastic life, born here, that made the desert blossom with sanctity.  Here the Lord came down in glory and humbly found refuge as a child.  May he help us to be pilgrims of communion and messengers of peace.  May Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, who brought Jesus here and leads us to him, take us by the hand....
          To Egypt civil authorities:  Here God revealed his name to Moses and entrusted the Commandments to his people, and the Holy Family found refuge and hospitality.  Today you welcome millions of refugees and make praiseworthy efforts to integrate them into your society.  You have a unique role to play among countries seeking solutions to pressing problems that need to be faced now:  brutal violence, arms trade, social problems, and atrocities religious extremists do using God's name.  The people call for an Egypt with bread, freedom, and justice for all.  It can happen if you to turn words into actions and aspirations into commitments, enforce your laws, and draw on your people's genius.

          Egypt's task is to strengthen regional peace even as senseless acts of violence assault it and cause many to suffer unjustly.  I encourage your efforts to complete national projects and peace-making initiatives.  Development, prosperity, and peace merit sacrifice; they demand hard work, commitment, planning, and respect for human rights such as equality and freedom of religion and of expression.  True development is measured by concern for human beings:  their education, health, and dignity.  Your greatness is revealed in how well you care for the most vulnerable:  women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and minorities.
          A civilized society must repudiate evil, violence, and extremism that suppresses others and attacks diversity by profaning God's name.  Teach your children that God protects us and wants our life and happiness.  Detesting and rejecting violence, he calls to love, pardon, mercy, respect for every life, and fraternity among believers and nonbelievers alike.  Proclaim that history doesn't forgive those who preach justice but practice injustice, who talk about equality but discard those who are different.  Unmask peddlers of illusions about the afterlife, those who preach hatred to rob people of their dignity, and those who take away people's freedoms.  Dismantle deadly, extremist ideologies; uphold the incompatibility of faith and violence, of God and murder.

          History honors people of peace, who build a better world with courage.  Egypt saved other peoples from famine; now you're called to save this region from a famine of love, to vanquish violence and terrorism, to bring peace, dignified employment, and humane education.  Prove that religion belongs to God and the nation to all; demonstrate it's possible to live in harmony with others, sharing values and respecting everyone's freedom and faith.  Peace is God's gift but also our work.  We must build and protect it, upholding the force of law, not the law of force.  Peace to all people of good will!  You show it's possible to live together in mutual respect and fairness, finding in difference a source of richness, not conflict.  May God bless you all, grant Egypt peace, prosperity, progress, and justice.
          Read

          • Acts 6:1-7  “Brothers, select 7 filled with the Spirit and wisdom for us to appoint to distribute food.”  They chose them; the Apostles prayed and laid hands on them.  The word of God spread and the community kept growing.
          • Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19  "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you."  Exult in the Lord; his word is upright and works trustworthy.  The Lord sees, delivers, and preserves those who fear and hope in him.
          • Jn 6:16-21  The disciples embarked in a boat and went across the sea stirred up by a strong wind.  After a few miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea coming near:  “Don't be afraid.”  The boat immediately arrived at their destination.
          Reflect
              Christ at the Sea of Galilee/ Tintorello
            • Creighton:  In the gospel, “the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.”  Imagine the disciples trying to manage the boat through rough waters, worrying about why Jesus hadn't arrived, wondering whether he'd be angry they left without him.  I too worry and struggle to stay afloat with my head above water, managing my tasks and keeping my head above water.  I can miss what's most important:  what's happening now.  The disciples were caught in the storm, but when they turned to Jesus, the boat landed safely.  They'd been so afraid, they lost their perspective.  May we fret less, trust God more, and pay attention to life as it is.
            • One Bread, One Body:  "When sheep make shepherds":  The early Church leaders placed responsibility for finding deacons on the community.  We  too are to be on the lookout for those who would make good Church leaders.  Jewish priests and Levites were born into their positions, but Jesus called and chose the apostles.  The early Church called lay people to raise up future leaders.  We can ask God to reveal to us those "spiritual and prudent" people, and we can encourage and pray for them and get them in touch with church leaders....
              The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena
              di Paolo (about/more)
            • Passionist:  "Respond to the Spirit who's calling you! Come!  Don’t wait for time; time isn’t waiting for you” (Catherine of Siena, Letter to Pope Gregory XI).  Catherine's influence on the Church during the Great Schism was divine intervention because she listened to God with love and was open to the Spirit.  The 1st reading is about the selection of the first deacons, who likely relieved the apostles who were apparently wearing themselves out doing everything.  Where are you called to serve today?  "Come!"
            The rough seas in the gospel could be an analogy of rough times ahead for Jesus' disciples.  Jesus appears and reassures them.  As they focus on him, the boat lands safely.  Catherine helped Pope Gregory focus on Jesus through her letters.  When we focus on Jesus, even "storms" can be calmed, and we can land safely.
            • DailyScripture.net:  "It is I; don't be afraid":  John described the situation of the apostles alone at sea in a storm as "dark."  These experienced fishermen feared for their lives, and the Lord's appearance and water-walking likely heightened their fear.  We can be like them in our moments of darkness, fear, and trial.  The Lord is present even if he seems distant; he'll "bring us to our desired haven" and place of rest.  The Lord keeps watch over us, especially in our moments of difficulty.  Do you rely on him for strength and help?   Do I respond to trials with faith and hope?