Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything. – Saint Catherine of Siena
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of one of the four women who are 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.
The above quote from Saint Catherine of Siena goes so well with the readings for today. It is also relevant for our present situation in our country and world. It challenges us to be the one who “drives out darkness and spread light”. It challenges us to be the ones who bring light to those around us. A smile, a small act of kindness or a gentle word. As humans we tend to look at our shortcomings when God has given us many gifts and talents. When we focus on these, we become so much stronger.
In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, Saint Peter is traveling around and comes across a paralyzed man and through Saint Peter’s healing other people of the region “turned to the Lord”. As he continued his travels he comes to Joppa and hears, through two messengers, that “a disciple named Tabitha” has fallen ill and has died. Seeing the grief of the friends and family he is moved to pray for her and raised her up. It stuck me how both accounts sound like the healing accounts of Jesus in the Gospels. Not surprising that Saint Peter, being the head of the Church, would be the mirror image of Christ showing affirmation of his authority given to him by Christ. Saint Peter is using his authority to spread the light of Christ by alleviating suffering.
As Christians, disciples of Christ, we too are called to use our God given talents to help ease pain and suffer and be joy, peace, and light to others. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that the words that he has spoken to them are “Spirit and life”. The words of the Gospel and readings from other books of scripture are meant to feed our souls, stoking the Light that lives in us. Saint Catherine’s quote at the beginning of this reflection says it best, “Drive out darkness and spread light.” To do this, we need to take time for prayer and reflection and then put that energy into action. The Saints would most likely say to do the ordinary things of life extraordinarily.
May the Light that was given to you at your Baptism continue to burn as light for others.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.