Solemnity of Saint Catherine of Siena

Today, we celebrate the patron saint of our parish, Saint Catherine of Siena.  In the Roman Missal, there is a Table of Liturgical Days that gives us the priority for various celebrations.  The “Solemnity of the Title of one’s own church” outranks even Sundays in Christmas Time and Sundays in Ordinary Time.  So, we celebrate this day as a solemnity.  More than a feast or a memorial.  A Mass on a solemnity includes both the Gloria and the Creed.  For a feast, there is a Gloria.  For a memorial, there is neither.  For others without a similar attachment to Saint Catherine, today is a required memorial.

There are specific readings for Saint Catherine of Siena.  The Gospel from Matthew 11 begins, “At that time Jesus responded…”  What follows then is a prayer from the Son to the Father.  There are at least three significant insights from which we can learn.

First, “at that time” is more than just a chronological specification in the original Greek.  It is an announcement of an event.  It is not just showing the sequence of happenings.  It calls our attention in a special way to what follows.

Second is that Jesus responded.  Not just that Jesus said.  He responded, but to whom?  He responds to the Father because the Father has spoken to him first.  Almost like listening to someone talking on the phone, we hear only one side of a two-sided conversation.  But this is not just any conversation.  We are given a privileged gift of hearing the divine communication between God the Father and God the Son.  It is a small sliver for us of entry into the interior divine life of the Trinity.

Third would be what Jesus says, but also how he says it.  His words give a sense of joy, peace, and thanksgiving.  He gives praise to the one that he calls Father who is, at the same time, Lord of all.  The Son is a sharer in the Father.  Jesus’ prayer indicates the special intimacy of the persons of the Trinity.

Saint Catherine of Siena, as a mystic, would have shared in a special way herself in the interior life of the Trinity.  Her actions were impressive, especially her ability to convince the pope to return to Rome from Avignon, France.  This is even more exceptional when we remember how young she was at the time.  She showed great authority in the Church.  But this authority did not come from a formal title in the Church hierarchy.  It came from her recognized holiness, much like our more modern example of Mother Teresa.  And, of course, her holiness came from her special intimate relationship with God. 

Saint Catherine was a mystic.  But are we not all called to be a mystic?  Are we not all called to enter into the interior life of the Trinity?  What is holding us back from answering this call?  How do we let go of those things that hold us back?