Thursday, April 29, 2010
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS: THURS. APRIL 29, 2010: HEADLINES-
VATICAN: ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ROMAN MISSAL TO BE PUBLISHED SOON-
ASIA: INDIA: FR. PETER BOMBACHA MURDERED IN BOMBAY-
AMERICA: USA: KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS DISTRIBUTS WHEELCHAIRS FOR HAITI-
EUROPE: GERMANY: 2 NEW FILMS FROM AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED
AFRICA: SOMALIA: 21 DIE IN VIOLENT FIGHTING-
AUSTRALIA: BISHOP ASKS FOR JUSTICE AMONG WORKERS´ WAGES-
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ROMAN MISSAL TO BE PUBLISHED SOON
VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS REPORT) - The Pope had lunch yesterday in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV with members and consultors of "Vox Clara", an advisory committee for questions concerning the celebration of the Roman Rite in English.
Following the luncheon the Holy Father, himself speaking English, thanked "Vox Clara" for the work it has done "over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from bishops' conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world". "I thank the superiors and officials of the congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God", he said. Benedict XVI went on: "I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication. ... Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of His people". Going on then to identify a new task, that of "preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful", the Pope pointed out that "many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world".
"Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere", the Holy Father concluded.
IMAGE SOURCE http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/index.asp
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS) - Jean-Pierre Hamuli Mupenda, the new ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, today presented his Letters of Credence to Benedict XVI, reaffirming his country's desire to strengthen its ties with the Holy See. In his own address to the diplomat, the Pope spoke of his satisfaction at the move, which coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of Congo's independence, and expressed the hope that this commemoration may represent a "new starting point".
"Over recent years your country has gone through particularly difficult and tragic moments", said the Holy Father. "Blind and pitiless violence has afflicted a large part of the population, ... especially women, young people and children, whose dignity has been constantly flouted by the violation of their rights. ... The Catholic Church, herself wounded in many of her members and structures, wishes to favour interior healing and fraternity".
"The 2008 Goma agreement and international accords, especially the 'Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region', are necessary, but it is even more vital to lay the foundation for their implementation. Little by little, the badly-frayed fabric of society must be mended, helping the first natural form of society, which is the family, and consolidating interpersonal relations among Congolese people on the foundation of integral education, which is a source of peace and justice".
"I invite the public authorities to do everything in their power to end the state of war which, unfortunately, still persists in certain areas of the country, and to dedicate themselves to the social reconstruction of the nation, while respecting fundamental human rights. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, it is also a gift and a task that involves obligations for both citizens and the State".
The Pope also called upon the international community, "involved in various degrees in the successive conflicts that have afflicted the Congo, to mobilise and make an effective contribution to reinstating peace and legality".
"After so much suffering, your country needs to start resolutely down the path of national reconciliation", the Holy Father told the ambassador. "Your bishops have declared this anniversary year as a year of grace, renewal and joy, a year of reconciliation to rebuild a Congo of solidarity, prosperity and unity".
"One of the best ways to achieve this objective is by promoting the education of the young", said Pope Benedict. "The Congolese want their children to have a good education, but the immediate costs have to be met by families and this is a heavy, sometimes impossible, burden". Expressing his trust that a solution will be found to this question, he stressed the fact that "if the State helps parents by guaranteeing the regular payment of teachers, it will be making an investment useful for everyone".
"It is essential that children and young people be educated with patience and constancy, especially those who were deprived of schooling and taught how to kill. They must be inculcated, not only with knowledge that will be useful in adult life, but also with solid moral and spiritual bases that will help them to reject the temptation to violence and resentment, and to chose justice and truth instead. Within the limits of her powers the Church can, through her educational structures, contribute to and augment the structures of the State".
"The great natural wealth that God gave your land and that has, alas, become a source of greed and unbridled profit for many people inside and outside your country, would easily enable ... the people to emerge from poverty and provide for their food and health security. ... This requirement of justice, promoted by the State, would consolidate national reconciliation and peace, and enable the population to live a peaceful life, which is a necessary condition for their prosperity".
Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by calling on Congolese Catholics to be "generous witnesses of God's love, and to contribute to the construction of a united and fraternal country in which everyone can feel that they are fully loved and respected".
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PROMOTE THE UNITY AND WELL-BEING OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.
Speaking English the Pope referred to the bishops' five-yearly reports, telling them of his pleasure at their efforts "to preach the Gospel at confirmations, in your visits to parishes, when meeting with groups of priests, religious or lay people and in your pastoral letters".
"Strive to build", he went on, "vibrant and expansive communities of men and women strong in their faith, contemplative and joyful in the liturgy, and well instructed on 'how to live in the way that pleases God'. In an environment marked by divorce and polygamy, promote the unity and well-being of the Christian family built on the Sacrament of Marriage. Initiatives and associations dedicated to the sanctification of this basic community deserve your full support. Continue to uphold the dignity of women in the context of human rights and defend your people against attempts to introduce an anti-birth mentality disguised as a form of cultural progress.
"Your mission also requires that you give attention to the adequate discernment and preparation of vocations and to the ongoing formation of priests, who are your closest collaborators in the task of evangelisation", he added. "Continue to lead them by word and example to be men of prayer, sound and clear in their teaching, mature and respectful in their dealings with others, faithful to their spiritual commitments and strong in compassion towards all in need. Likewise do not hesitate to invite missionaries from other countries to assist the good work being done by your clergy, religious and catechists".
The Holy Father went on: "I appreciate in a special way the assistance you offer to refugees and immigrants and I urge you to seek, when possible, pastoral co-operation from their countries of origin. The struggle against poverty must be carried out with respect for the dignity of all concerned by encouraging them to be the protagonists of their own integral development. Much good can be done through small-scale community engagements and microeconomic initiatives at the service of families. In developing and sustaining such strategies, improved education will always be a decisive factor".
"You rightly encourage people in positions of authority to lead in the struggle against corruption by calling attention to the gravity and injustice of such sins. In this regard, the spiritual and moral formation of lay men and women for leadership, through specialised courses in Catholic Social Doctrine, is an important contribution to the common good".
Benedict XVI commended the bishops "for your attention to the great gift which is peace. I pray that the process of reconciliation in justice and truth, which you have rightly supported in the region, may produce lasting respect for all God-given human rights and defuse tendencies to retaliation and vengeance.
"In your service to peace continue to promote dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam, so as to sustain the existing good relations and forestall any form of intolerance, injustice or oppression, detrimental to the promotion of mutual trust. Working together in the defence of life and in the struggle against disease and malnutrition will not fail to build understanding, respect and acceptance. Above all, a climate of dialogue and communion must characterise the local Church. By your own example", the Pope concluded, "lead your priests, religious and lay faithful to grow in understanding and cooperation, in listening to one another and in sharing initiatives".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiberg im Breisgau, Germany, president of the German Bishops' Conference; Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, and Bishop of Anton Losinger, auxiliary of Augsburg.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Benjamin Castillo Plascencia of Tabasco, Mexico, as bishop of Celaya (area 8,768, population 1,604,015, Catholics 1,463,583, priests 232, religious 66), Mexico.
- Appointed Fr. John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, professor and chancellor of the Catholic University of Incheon, Korea, and diocesan director for vocations, as auxiliary of the diocese of Incheon (area 1,282, population 4,294,000, Catholics 427,960, priests 268, religious 906). The bishop-elect was born in Incheon-si in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1993.
- Elevated the apostolic prefecture of Quetta (area 347,188, population 8,096,251, Catholics 29,355, priests 13, religious 19), Pakistan, to the rank of apostolic vicariate, with the same name and territorial configuration as before. He appointed Fr. Victor Gnanapragasam O.M.I., apostolic prefect of Quetta, as apostolic vicar of the new ecclesiastical circumscription, The bishop-elect was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1940 and ordained a priest in 1966.
INDIA: FR. PETER BOMBACHA MURDERED IN BOMBAY
Asia News report: The murder took place late at night. Motive for killing unknown. He was known by everyone and very good to people of every creed and caste.Bombay (AsiaNews) - A priest was killed late last night in Baboola, one kilometer from the house of the bishop of Vasai, an ancient town near Mumbai (Maharashtra).
The motive for the murder is unknown. The priest, fr. Peter Bombacha, was about to turn 74 years old and was loved and respected by all. Monsignor Felix Machado, archbishop of Vasai, arrived on the scene of the crime this morning. Shocked and saddened at the sight of the slain priest, he told AsiaNews: "Fr. Peter was a priest full of faith, serving the Church and the people without discrimination of caste or creed, he forgot himself to serve the most poor and abandoned.
"When a man answers the call - he added - his life belongs completely to God and the people .... Even in a death, as tragic and painful as that of Fr Peter, a priest belongs to God ... His life and his death will be fruitful for the Church and for India. "
USA: KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS DISTRIBUTS WHEELCHAIRS FOR HAITI
The first distribution took place at the University of Miami / Medishare Hospital in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, a press release from the Knights reported. The Catholic fraternal order is working in partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission and the HHS Foundation.
“Though time has dimmed the memory of the tragic earthquake in Haiti for many who live elsewhere, the physical suffering of those injured in the earthquake and here in Port-au-Prince continues in a very real way,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give the gift of mobility to those who need it most, and who otherwise would be condemned to lives of isolation and hopelessness.”
“Today, I can think of no group more in need than those who lost everything – including their mobility – in this terrible tragedy,” he continued.
Anderson added that the Knights were founded in 1882 to help those most in need.
Wheelchair donations are among the Knights’ most well known charitable programs. In the past decade they have distributed thousands of wheelchairs in countries including Afghanistan, Mexico, Panama, Cuba and Jordan.
Veterans’ Administration medical centers around the U.S. have also been sites of distributions.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Knights raised more than $500,000 for relief efforts.
GERMANY: 2 NEW FILMS FROM AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED
Kath net report: A movie about Father Werenfried van Straaten and a documentary about Pope Benedict XVI., created by a Russian Orthodox Fernsehteam
Relief and works the worldwide Catholic Agency "Church in need" is offering 2 movies on the occasion of Catholic Orthodox ecumenism. Offered free of charge a documentary about the founder in the year 2003 of "Church in need", Father Werenfried van Straaten. During this journey in 1992 he was with the former Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexij II. The collapse of communism was father Werenfried and his work at the request of Pope John Paul II. The reconciliation between Catholic and Orthodox Church has become an important task. So he recalled how after the second world war to the love between the "enemies of yesterday", father Werenfried set up after the fall of the wall to overcome the Church split between East and West.
As a second movie to the theme, "Church in need" offers a documentary about Pope Benedict XVI. which was created by a Russian Orthodox Fernsehteam. It shows the life of the Pope from the perspective of Orthodox Christians and is presented and commented. Pope Benedict XVI addressed at the end of the film. with a greeting message directly to the Russian people.
Both DVDs can be ordered free of charge from "Church in need": www.kirche-in-not.de/shop
SOMALIA: 21 DIE IN VIOLENT FIGHTING
All Africa report: Fighting between African Union troops, Somali government forces, pro-government militiamen on one side and Al-Shabaab and its allies on the other end killed at least 21 people Wednesday and injured over 70 others in the Somali capital within the last 24 hours, said medical workers and witnesses.
Yesterday, at laest 16 people were killed in the continuing violence that has gripped Mogadishu.
Twelve people were killed in the north district of Hamarweyne where several mortars traded between the warring sides landed, according to witnesses.
"It was terrifying and left us with great worries. I have seen several dead bodies and injured ones," said Raho Suleyman, one of the people who were caught in the crossfire.
Several wounded people were admitted at Mogadishu's main Medina hospital, where according to medics, five of them died from their injuries.
The violence concentrated mainly near the main Bakara market in the capital where fighters from pro-government militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama faced off with their arch-rivals Al-Shabaab.
On the other hand, a suicide car bomb targeted on AMISOM base in Mogadishu Tuesday triggered another round of violence, claiming the lives of civilians.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was retaliation for the killing of two top al-Qaida leaders in Iraq. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri were killed last week during an Iraqi-U.S. military raid in northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.
However, the Al-Qaeda-inspired group put the blame of civilian casualties on AMISOM.
The claims were immediately refuted by government officials.
Civilians have suffered greatly as a result of clashes between the warring sides fighting for control of bullet-riddled Mogadishu.
The weak Western-backed Somali government is battling a powerful Islamist insurgency that erupted early 2007 and is determined to unseat it. The impoverished Horn of Africa country has not had a functioning government for nearly 20 years.
BISHOP ASKS FOR JUSTICE AMONG WORKERS´ WAGES
SOCIAL JUSTICE MEDIA RELEASE:
Australia Fair? A nation at the crossroads Australia is at the crossroads according to the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, who has issued a Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (1 May).Comparing the circumstances of the richest and poorest Australians following the global financial crisis, he says, ‘How we respond to the needs of the poorest individuals and families will characterise the spirit of the nation.‘Over the past decade, minimum wages have fallen further behind average weekly earnings. Safety net wages, even when supplemented by family benefits, have not prevented families falling into poverty or coming close to it.
‘In 2009, the Australian Fair Pay Commission imposed a wage freeze on 1.6 million safety net workers with the aim of preventing job loss and promoting economic recovery. This burden has not been carried proportionally by the average income earner, and still less by those at the highest levels of the wealth spectrum.
‘While the lowest paid workers endure a pay freeze for the sake of Australia’s economic interests, the Productivity Commission recently dismissed suggestions of pay caps or reduced tax concessions on executive remuneration on the grounds that this “could damage our national economic interests”’, Bishop Saunders said.
Drawing on Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical, ‘Charity in Truth’, the Bishop highlights the need for long-term development with adequate protections for low paid and unemployed workers.
‘Equity and justice must be built into the operation of the market and not remain just an afterthought. The market must not be a place where the strong subdue the weak. The minimum wage decision that Fair Work Australia makes in June will be a critical test of this nation’s fairness,’ Bishop Saunders concluded.
The Pastoral Letter can be downloaded at: http://www.acsjc.org.au/
For further information:
Bishop Christopher Saunders
Chairman, ACSJC Tel: 0418 260 155
St. Catherine of Siena
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, DOMINICAN MYSTIC, AND PAPAL ADVISER
Feast: April 29
Information: Feast Day: April 29
Born: 25 March 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy
Died: 29 April 1380
Canonized: July 1461 by Pope Pius II
St. Catherine was born at Sienna, in 1347. Her father, James Benincasa, by trade a dyer, was a virtuous man; and though blessed with temporal prosperity, always chiefly solicitous to leave to his children a solid inheritance of virtue, by his example, and by deeply instilling into them lessons of piety. Her mother, Lapa, had a particular affection for this daughter above her other children; and the accomplishments of mind and body with which she was adorned made her the darling and delight of all that knew her, and procured her the name of Euphrosyna. She was favored by God with extraordinary graces as soon as she was capable of knowing him. She withdrew very young to a solitude a little out of the town, to imitate the lives of the fathers of the desert. Returning after some time to her father's house, she continued to be guided by the same spirit. In her childhood she consecrated her virginity to God by a private vow. Her love of mortification and prayer, and her sentiments of virtue, were such as are not usually found in so tender an age. But God was pleased to put her resolution to a great trial. At twelve years of age, her parents thought of engaging her in a married state. Catherine found them deaf to her entreaties that she might live single; and therefore redoubled her prayers, watching, and austerities, knowing her protection must be from God alone. Her parents, regarding her inclination to solitude as unsuitable to the life for which they designed her, endeavored to divert her from it, and began to thwart her devotions, depriving her in this view of the little chamber or cell they had till then allowed her. They loaded her with the most distracting employments, and laid on her all the drudgery of the house, as if she had been a person hired into the family for that purpose. The hardest labor, humiliations, contempt, and the insults of her sisters, were to the saint a subject of joy; and such was her ardent love of crosses, that she embraced them in all shapes with a holy eagerness, and received all railleries with an admirable sweetness and heroic patience. If any thing grieved her, it was the loss of her dear solitude. But the Holy Ghost, that interior faithful master, to whom she listened, taught her to make herself another solitude in her heart; where, amidst all her occupations, she considered herself always as alone with God; to whose presence she kept herself no less attentive than if she had no exterior employment to distract her. In that admirable Treatise of God's Providence, which she wrote, she saith, "that our Lord had taught her to build in her soul a private closet, strongly vaulted with the divine providence, and to keep herself always close and retired there; he assured her that by this means she should find peace and perpetual repose in her soul, which no storm or tribulation could disturb or interrupt." Her sisters and other friends persuaded her to join with them in the diversions of the world, alleging, that virtue is not an enemy to neatness in dress, or to cheerfulness; under which soft names they endeavored to recommend the dangerous liberties of worldly pastimes and vanities. Catherine was accordingly prevailed upon by her sister to dress in a manner something more genteel; but she soon repented of her compliance, and wept for it during the remainder of her life, as the greatest infidelity she had ever been guilty of to her heavenly spouse. The death of her eldest sister, Bonaventura, soon after confirmed her in those sentiments. Her father, edified at her patience and virtue, at length approved and seconded her devotion, and all her pious desires. She liberally assisted the poor, served the sick, and comforted the afflicted and prisoners. Her chief subsistence was on boiled herbs, without either sauce or bread, which last she seldom tasted. She wore a very rough hair-cloth, and a large iron girdle armed with sharp points, lay on the ground, and watched much. Humility, obedience, and a denial of her own will, even in her penitential austerities, gave them their true value. She began this course of life when under fifteen years of age. She was moreover visited with many painful distempers, which she underwent with incredible patience; she had also suffered much from the use of hot baths prescribed her by physicians. Amidst her pains, it was her constant prayer that they might serve for the expiation of her offences, and the purifying her heart. She long desired, and in 1365, the eighteenth year of her age, (but two years later, according to some writers,) she received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, in a nunnery contiguous to the Dominicans' convent. From that time her cell became her paradise, prayer her element, and her mortifications had no longer any restraint. For three years she never spoke to any one but to God and her confessor. Her days and nights were employed in the delightful exercises of contemplation: the fruits whereof were supernatural lights, a most ardent love of God, and zeal for the conversion of sinners. The old serpent, seeing her angelical life, set all his engines at work to assault her virtue. He first filled her imagination with the most filthy representations, and assailed her heart with the basest and most humbling temptations. Afterwards, he spread in her soul such a cloud and darkness that it was the severest trial imaginable. She saw herself a hundred times on the brink of the precipice, but was always supported by an invisible hand. Her arms were fervent prayer, humility, resignation, and confidence in God. By these she persevered victorious, and was at last delivered from those trials which had only served to purify her heart. Our Saviour visiting her after this bitter conflict, she said to him: "Where west thou, my divine Spouse, while I lay in such an abandoned, frightful condition." "I was with thee," he seemed to reply. "What!" said she, "amidst the filthy abominations with which my soul was infested!" He answered: "They were displeasing and most painful to thee. This conflict therefore was thy merit, and the victory over them was owing to my presence." Her ghostly enemy also solicited her to pride, omitting neither violence nor stratagem to seduce her into this vice; but invincible humility was a buckler to cover her from all his fiery darts. God recompensed her charity to the poor by many miracles, often multiplying provisions in her hands, and enabling her to carry loads of corn, oil, and other necessaries to the poor, which her natural strength could not otherwise have borne. The greatest miracle seemed her patience in bearing the murmurs, and even the reproaches, of these ungrateful and importunate people. Catherine dressed, and served an old woman named Tocca. infected to that degree with a leprosy, that the magistrates had ordered her to be removed out of the city, and separated from all others. This poor wretch nevertheless made no other return to the tender charity of the saint, but continual bitter complaints and reproaches; which, instead of wearying out her constancy, only moved the saint to show her still greater marks of sweetness and humility. Another, whose infectious cancer the saint for a long time sucked and dressed, published against her the most infamous calumnies; in which she was seconded by a sister of the convent. Catherine bore in silence the violent persecution they brought upon her, and continued her affectionate services till, by her patience and prayers, she had obtained of God the conversion of both these enemies, which was followed by a retraction of their slanders.
The ardent charity of this holy virgin made her indefatigable in laboring for the conversion of sinners, offering for that end continual tears, prayers, fasts, and other austerities, and thinking nothing difficult or above her strength. All her discourses, actions, and her very silence, powerfully induced men to the love of virtue, so that no one, according to pope Pius II., ever approached her who went not away better. Nannes, a powerful turbulent citizen, being brought to our saint to be reclaimed, all she could say to him to bring him to a right sense of his duty was of no effect; upon which she made a sudden pause in her discourse, to offer up her prayers for him: they were heard that very instant, and an entire change was wrought in the man, to which his tears and other tokens bore evidence. He accordingly reconciled himself to all his enemies, and embraced a most penitential life. When he afterwards fell into many temporal calamities, the saint rejoiced at his spiritual advantage under them, saying, God purged his heart from the poison with which it was infected by its inveterate attachment to creatures. Nannes gave to the saint a stately house which he possessed within two miles of the city. This, by the pope's authority, she converted into a nunnery. We omit the miraculous conversion of James Tholomei and his sisters, of Nicholas Tuldo, and many others; particularly of two famous assassins going to die with blasphemies in their mouths, and in transports of rage and despair, who were suddenly converted in their last moments, on the saint's praying for them, confessed their crimes to a priest with great signs of repentance, and appeared thoroughly resigned to the punishment about to be inflicted on them. A pestilence laying waste the country in 1374, Catherine devoted herself to serve the infected, and obtained of God the cure of several; amongst others, of two holy Dominicans, Raymund of Capua, and Bartholomew of Sienna. The most hardened sinners could not withstand the force of her exhortations to a change of life. Thousands flocked from places at a distance in the country to hear or only to see her, and were brought over by her words or example to the true dispositions of sincere repentance. She undertook a journey to Monte Pulciano to consecrate to God two of her nieces, who there took the religious veil of Saint Dominic: and another journey to Pisa, by order of her superiors, at the earnest suit of the citizens. She there restored health to many in body, but to a far greater number in soul. Raymund of Capua and two other Dominicans were commissioned by pope Gregory XI., then residing at Avignon, to hear the confessions at Sienna, of those who were induced by the saint to enter upon a change of life; these priests were occupied, day and night, in hearing the confessions of many who had never confessed before; besides those of others who had acquitted themselves but superficially of that duty. While she was at Pisa, in 1375, the people of Florence and Perugia, with a great part of Tuscany, and even of the Ecclesiastical State, entered into a league against the holy see. The news of this disturbance was delivered to Catherine by Raymund of Capua, and her heart was pierced with the most bitter sorrow on account of those evils, which she had foretold three years before they came to their height. The two furious factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, who had so disturbed and divided the state of Florence, then a powerful commonwealth, united at last against the pope, to strip the holy see of the lands it possessed in Italy. The disturbance was begun in June, 1373, and a numerous army was set on foot: the word Libertas, written on the banner of the league, was the signal. Perugia, Bologna, Viterbo, Ancona, and other strongholds, soon declared for them. The inhabitants of Arezzo, Lucca. Sienna, and other places, were kept within the bounds of duty by the prayers, letters, and exhortations of St. Catherine, and generously contemned the threats of the Florentines. Pope Gregory XI., residing at Avignon, wrote to the city of Florence, but without success. He therefore sent the cardinal Robert of Geneva, his legate, with an army, and laid the diocese of Florence under an interdict. Internal divisions, murders, and all other domestic miseries amongst the Florentines, joined with the conspiracy of the neighboring states, concurred to open their eyes, and made them sue for pardon. The magistrates sent to Sienna to beg St. Catherine would become their mediatrix. She could not resist their pressing entreaties. Before she arrived at Florence, she was met by the priors or chiefs of the magistrates; and the city left the management of the whole affair to her discretion, with a promise that she should be followed to Avignon by their ambassadors, who should sign and ratify the conditions of reconciliation between the parties at variance, and confirm every thing she had done. The saint arrived at Avignon on the 18th of June, 1376, and was received by the pope and cardinals with great marks of distinction His holiness, after a conference with her, in admiration of her prudence and sanctity, said to her: "I desire nothing but peace. I put the affair entirely into your hands; only I recommend to you the honor of the church." But the Florentines sought not peace sincerely, and they continued to carry on secret intrigues to draw all Italy from its obedience to the holy see. Their ambassadors arrived very late at Avignon, and spoke with so great insolence, that they showed peace was far from being the subject of their errand. God suffered the conclusion of this work to be deferred in punishment of the sins of the Florentines. by which means St. Catherine sanctified herself still more by suffering longer amidst a seditious people.
The saint had another point no less at heart in her journey to Avignon. Pope John XXII., a Frenchman, born at Cahors, bishop, first of Frejus, then of Avignon, lastly of Porto, being made pope in 1314, fixed his residence at Avignon, where John's successors, Benedict XII., Clement VI.. Innocent VI., and Urban V., also resided. The then pope Gregory XI., elected in 1370, continued also there. The Romans complained that their bishops had for seventy-four years past forsaken their church, and threatened a schism. Gregory XI. had made a secret vow to return to Rome; but not finding this design agreeable to his court, he consulted the holy virgin on this subject, who answered: "Fulfil what you have promised to God." The pope, surprised she should know by revelation what he had never discovered to any person on earth, was immediately determined to carry his good design into execution. The saint soon after left Avignon. We have several letters written by her to him, to press him to hasten his return; and he shortly after followed her, leaving Avignon on the 13th of September, in 1376. He overtook the saint at Genoa, where she made a short stay. At Sienna, she continued her former way of life, serving and often curing the sick, converting the most obstinate sinners, and reconciling the most inveterate enemies, more still by her prayers than by her words. Such was her knowledge of heavenly things, that certain Italian doctors, out of envy, and with the intent to expose her ignorance, being come to hold a conference with her, departed in confusion and admiration at her interior lights. The same had happened at Avignon, some time before, where three prelates, envying her credit with the pope, put to her the most intricate questions on an interior life, and many other subjects; but admiring her answers to all their difficulties, confessed to the pope they had never seen a soul so enlightened, and so profoundly humble as Catherine. She had many disciples: among others, Stephen, son of Conrad, a senator of Sienna. This nobleman was reduced by enemies to the last extremity. Seeing himself on the brink of ruin, he addressed himself to the saint, who, having first made a thorough convert of him from the world and its vanities, by her prayers miraculously, on a sudden, pacified all his persecutors, and calmed their fury. Stephen, from that time, looked upon as dust all that he had formerly most passionately loved and pursued; and he testified of himself, that by her presence, and much more by her zealous discourses, he always found the divine love vehemently kindled in his breast, and his contempt of all earthly things increased. He became the most fervent among her disciples, made a collection of all her words as oracles, would be her secretary to write her letters, and her companion in her journeys to Avignon, Florence, and Rome; and at length, by her advice, professed himself a Carthusian monk. He assisted at her death, and wrote her life at the request of several princes; having been witness of her great miracles and virtues, and having experienced often in himself her spirit of prophecy, her knowledge of the consciences of others, and her extraordinary light in spiritual things.
St. Catherine wrote to pope Gregory XI., at Rome, strongly exhorting him to contribute by all means possible to the general peace of Italy. His holiness commissioned her to go to Florence, still divided and obstinate in its disobedience. She lived some time in that factious place, amidst daily murders and confiscations, in frequent dangers of her own life many ways; in which she always showed herself most undaunted, even when swords were drawn against her. At length she overcame that obstinate people, and brought them to submission, obedience, and peace, though not under Gregory XI., as Baillet mistakes, but his successor, Urban VI., as her contemporary historian informs us. This memorable reconciliation was effected in 1378; after which Catherine hastened to her solitary abode at Sienna, where her occupation, and, we may say, her very nourishment, was holy prayer: in which intercourse with the Almighty, he discovered to her very wonderful mysteries, and bestowed on her a spirit which delivered the truths of salvation in a manner that astonished her hearers. Some of her discourses were collected, and compose the treatise On Providence, under her name. Her whole life seemed one continual miracle; but what the servants of God admired most in her, was the perpetual strict union of her soul with God. For, though obliged often to converse with different persons on so many different affairs, and transact business of the greatest moment, she was always occupied on God, and absorbed in him. For many years she had accustomed herself to so rigorous an abstinence, that the blessed eucharist might be said to be almost the only nourishment which supported her. Once she fasted from Ash Wednesday till Ascension-day, receiving only the blessed eucharist during that whole time. Many treated her as a hypocrite, and invented all manner of calumnies against her; but she rejoiced at humiliations, and gloried in the cross of Christ as much as she dreaded and abhorred praise and applause. In a vision, our Saviour is said one day to have presented her with two crowns, one of gold and the other of thorns, bidding her choose which of the two she pleased. She answered: "I desire, O Lord, to live here always conformed to your passion, and to find pain and suffering my repose and delight." Then eagerly taking up the crown of thorns, she forcibly pressed it upon her bead. The earnest desire and love of humiliations and crosses was nourished in her soul by assiduous meditation on the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. What, above all things, pierced her heart was scandal, chiefly that of the unhappy great schism which followed the death of Gregory XI. in 1378, when Urban VI. was chosen at Rome, and acknowledged there by all the cardinals, though his election was in the beginning overawed by the Roman people, who demanded an Italian pope. Urban's harsh and austere temper alienated from him the affections of the cardinals, several of whom withdrew; and having declared the late election null, chose Clement VII., with whom they retired out of Italy, and resided at Avignon. Our saint, not content to spend herself in floods of tears, weeping before God for these evils of his church, wrote the strongest and most pathetic letters to those cardinals who had first acknowledged Urban, and afterwards elected another; pressing them to return to their lawful pastor, and acknowledge Urban's title. She wrote also to several countries and princes in his favor, and to Urban himself, exhorting him to bear up cheerfully under the troubles he found himself involved in, and to abate somewhat of a temper that had made him so many enemies, and mollify that rigidness of disposition which had driven the world from him, and still kept a very considerable part of Christendom from acknowledging him. The pope listened to her, sent for her to Rome, followed her directions, and designed to send her, with St. Catherine of Sweden, to Joan, queen of Sicily, who had sided with Clement. Our saint grieved to see this occasion of martyrdom snatched from her, when the journey was laid aside on account of the dangers that were foreseen to attend It. She wrote however to queen Joan: likewise two letters full of holy fire to the king of France, also to the king of Hungary, and others, to exhort them to renounce the schism.
We pass over the ecstasies and other wonderful favors this virgin received from heaven, and the innumerable miracles God wrought by her means. She has loft us, besides the example of her life, six Treatises in form of a dialogue, a Discourse on the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and three hundred and sixty-four Letters, which show that she had a superior genius, and wrote perfectly well. While she was laboring to extend the obedience of the true pope, Urban VI., her infirmities and pains increasing, she died at Rome on the 29th of April, in 1380, being thirty-three years old. She was buried in the church of the Minerva, where her body is still kept under an altar. Her skull is in the Dominicans' church at Sienna, in which city are shown her house, her instruments of penance, and other relics. She was canonized by pope Pius II. in 1461. Urban VIII. transferred her festival to the 30th of this month.
John 13: 16 - 20
16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'
19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me."