Saint Catherine of Siena
One of four women honoured with the title of Doctor of the Church, Catherine was born in Siena, Italy, in 1347, her parents’ twenty-fifth and youngest child. At the age of seven, following a vision of Christ in glory, she is reported to have vowed her virginity to God. She joined the Dominican Third Order in 1365, spending years in seclusion from the world, fasting and praying. In 1368, after a vision where Christ accepted her as his “bride,” she felt called to carry this love to others. She cared for the poor and tended the sick; she corresponded with people from all walks of life, even counselling princes and popes; she was renowned as a peacemaker. She is especially remembered for her spiritual reflections. She died in Rome in 1380. This great Christian mystic was canonized in 1461, became a patron of Italy in 1939, and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970. With St Bridget of Sweden and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she is co-patron of Europe.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
The one who shared my table has risen against me. John 13: 18
It is obvious that Jesus meant Judas Iscariot when he said this that one who shared his table rose against him. Definitely it is an allusion to the scriptural prophecy we find in Psalm 41. 9: “Even my most trusted friend, with whom I shared my food, has lifted his heel against me.” There is nothing more heinous than turning against a friend with whom you shared bread and one can imagine with what pain Jesus might have said this. If we limit this to a mere spiritual realm, it will miss the prophetic dimension of what Jesus said and did. This therefore was for all times to come and those who shared the benefits of the Kingdom vision Jesus brought in and lifted their heel against the dedicated followers of Jesus are all guilty of sharing the betrayal by Judas. In India very often I have heard from the dedicated Catholic priests and religious this painful complaint: “I feel extremely sad that those students who studied in our schools and colleges have turned against us.” Literally, several Catholic priests and religious who committed themselves as educators, health workers or social activists have experienced this bitter agony in different parts of India and the latest example is that of Fr. Stan Lourdusamy SJ now languishing in Taloja jail of Bombay for his four decades-long dedicated activities in Jharkhand among the Adivasis of the area. Every such agonizing sigh from a missionary is the echo of what Jesus himself said: “The one who shared my table has risen against me.”