Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.– 1 John 2:2
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of one of the few women Doctors of the Church, Catherine of Siena. Her influence on Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome from Avignon, France was Divine intervention only because she listened to God with deep love and was open to the Holy Spirit.
In her Dialogue, she writes about many visions and experiences and conversations she had with God. About midway through her Dialogue, she writes about Christ being the Bridge for those on earth to be able to travel to heaven. The bridge has three steps or levels. These levels relate to the spiritual life. Under the bridge are the raging waters of sin. Those who choose the waters of the earthly distractions will drown. Those who take hold of the feet of Christ have begun their journey in the Light. The feet are where the person becomes a servant, a follower and is “lifting her from the affections of the earth”. As the person continues the journey they move higher towards the heart of Christ where “she fills herself with love and virtue”. And then climbing higher reaches the mouth where there is an experience of great peace. The importance of the Cross is that it never leaves the earth but remains rooted so that Divinity remains with the “humanity of the earth”. This is the Bridge that frees those who wish to climb from earth to heaven. Through the suffering of Christ. The stones are what the bridge is made of and are the virtues. These stones are cemented together with the Blood of Christ.
This is only a brief description of what is eight pages long and goes into much greater detail. This image is an important one as we make our way through the Easter Season. We traveled forty days through Lent. The last couple of weeks took on a new meaning with the COVID virus began making its way through the United States. We were asked to stay in our homes and away from each other. What began as a couple of weeks has now stretched out into six weeks. We looked to Easter to celebrate and ease our struggles during this time. And yet Catherine draws us back to the Cross, the Blood, Humanity, and Divinity. The crosses have been many for all of us in different ways. Has it been a time where we grew closer to God moving from the feet of Christ to His heart? Are we moving from his heart to his mouth to find great peace? It is not an easy climb one that takes inner sacrifice and reflection and conversion. A time of great challenge physically, mentally and spiritually. I wonder what St Catherine would say to us today? I am certainly going to reread this section. I found that her words fed my soul and gave me much to reflect upon during these days.
May God bless you and your families. Stay healthy and safe.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky