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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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(Vatican Radio) The Christian community should be capable of full agreement within, able to bare witness to Christ to the outside world, to prevent any of its members from suffering and misery. These according to Pope Francis are the "three characteristics of a people reborn". In his homily at Mass Tuesday morning, the Pope focused on what the Church brought to light during the Octave of Easter: our "rebirth from on high”, in the Holy Spirit , who gave life to the first group of "new Christians" when "they still didn’t have that name".


 "'They had one heart and mind'. Peace. A community in peace. This means that in this community there was no room for gossip, envy, calumnies, defamation. Peace. Forgiveness: 'Love covered everything' . To qualify a Christian community on this, we have to ask about the attitude of the Christians. Are they meek, humble? Do they vie for power between each other in that community? Are there envious quarrels? Is there gossip? They are not on the path of Jesus Christ. This feature is so important, so important, because the devil always tries to divide us. He is the father of division".

Not that problems were lacking in the first community. Pope Francis recalled "the infighting, the doctrinal struggles, power struggles " which also overtook [the community] later. As an example of this he pointed to the widows who complained of a lack of assistance and the Apostles "had to create deacons". However, the "high point" of the community’s beginnings forever fixes the essence of a community that is born of the Holy Spirit . A harmonious community and, second, a community of witnesses of faith. Pope Francis invited today’s community to dwell on this:
"Does this community give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does this parish, this community, this diocese really believe that Jesus Christ is Risen? Or rather: ' Yes, He is Risen, but only here', because they only believer here, in their hearts far removed from this force. By how we bear witness that Jesus is alive, that He is among us: that is how we verify the life of a community".

The third characteristic from which we can measure the life of a Christian community are "the poor" . And here, Pope Francis distinguished two points of evaluation:
"First, what's your attitude or the attitude of this community toward the poor? Second, is this community poor? Poor in heart, poor in spirit? Or does it place its trust in riches? In power? Harmony, witness, poverty and care for the poor. This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus: This comes from above. Because the only one who can do this is the Holy Spirit . This is the work of the Spirit. The Church is built up by the Spirit. The Spirit creates unity. The Spirit leads us to witness. The Spirit makes us poor, because He is our wealth and leads us to care for the poor”.

"May the Holy Spirit - concluded Pope Francis - help us to walk on this path reborn through the power of Baptism".

Text from the Vatican Radio website 

Death Toll before Elections Reaches Over 50 in Iraq

ASIA NEWS REPORT: Iraqis pick their new members of parliament tomorrow. The outgoing coalition led by Prime Minister al-Maliki is expected to win. Meanwhile, a back-to back blast kills 11 today, injuring scores more in a market north-east of the capital. Yesterday, a small Kurdish town was also hit. Armed Islamists want to keep voters away.Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 11 people were killed and 19 wounded in an outdoor market after a pair of back-to-back bombs ripped through an outdoor market today, a day before the country goes to the polls tomorrow, the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces.
According to local witnesses, the attacks are an attempt by Islamist militants to discourage voters from going to the polls. More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament, which is widely expected to be won by an alliance led by outgoing Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is likely to succeed himself for a third time.
Today's attack took place in the town of al-Saadiyah, 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. One of the bombs was placed in the middle of the town's main vegetable and meat market, whilst a second was put near one of the exits - presumably to strike people fleeing from the first blast, a tactic widely used by insurgents in order to inflict as many casualties as possible.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the latter bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Shia-led central government in Baghdad.
Previously, Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda spin-off group, had claimed responsibility for yesterday's attacks.
In one incident, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a small town in Iraqi Kurdistan killing more than 25 people and injuring 36. The bomber detonated the explosive device among a group of people watching a live TV broadcast of President Jalal Talabani's first public appearance after a long illness. Official sources said that almost 50 people were killed in this incident.
During recent visits to Christian communities throughout the country, the Chaldean Patriarch spoke out against the wave of violence, which also affects the Christian minority.
"Christians are the ones who suffer the most from the upsurge in violence across Iraq," His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Louis Sako said.

"This is due to the fact that Christians do not maintain tribal affiliations, as Arab Muslims do. The only way they have to resolve disputes is through the Iraqi legal system, which is often criticised for its corruption, and is subject to political manipulation."
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

Young Seminarian Murdered in Mexico during Holy Week

Mexico: Seminarian kidnapped and murdered | Mgr Constancio Miranda Weckmann, Archdiocese of Chihuahua,Samuel Gustavo Gómez Veleta, Aldama,

Samuel Gómez Veleta
IND.CATH. NEWS REPORT/FIDES: A young seminarian was kidnapped and murdered as he carried out missionary work in a rural area of northwestern Mexico during Holy Week.
Church spokesman, Mgr Constancio Miranda Weckmann, said in a statement: "the Archdiocese of Chihuahua announces with deep regret the death of our brother in Christ, Samuel Gustavo Gómez Veleta... Samuel Gustavo was in the town of Aldama, in the community in which he carried out his missionary service and belonged to St Jerome Parish.
"Every year the archdiocesan Seminary of Chihuahua, on the occasion of the celebrations of Holy Week, sends seminarians as missionaries in different rural communities. It is a major educational and spiritual experience, which serves to strengthen our students’ vocation to priesthood".
Samuel Gustavo Gómez Veleta, 21, a native of the city of Chihuahua, grew up in the Parish of Divine Providence, he attended the first year of philosophy at the archdiocesan Seminary. On April 15, Holy Tuesday, he was found dead after being kidnapped the day before.
During the funeral the Archbishop launched an appeal: "To all the Catholics of Chihuahua I ask you to work together to put an end to this violence and disregard for life which creates more and more insecurity, fear, leaving us defenseless". The homily was given by the Rector of the Seminary, Father Martin Barraza.

Source: Fides

Pope Francis meets King Juan and Queen Sofia of Spain

(VIS) This morning, in the study adjacent to Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis received King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, who then went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions the Parties remarked on the good relations between the Holy See and Spain, which have been increasingly consolidated in the spirit of the 1979 Agreements. In this context, mention was made of some current issues regarding the Church’s mission in society and the situation of the country.
 

This was followed by an exchange of views on matters of an international nature, with special reference to various situations of crisis.



Text from the Vatican Radio website 

Cardinals meet at Vatican with Pope Francis


(Vatican Radio) The Council of Cardinals met yesterday, Monday 28 April, for the first sessions of its fourth Meeting. The Holy Father participated most of the time, except when he had other commitments of particular importance, such as the audiences with the King and Queen of Spain on Monday morning and with the president of Paraguay on Tuesday morning, and the Wednesday morning general audience.

Alongside the eight cardinal members of the Council, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin participated regularly.

On Monday afternoon, the Council heard a report from the president of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structures of the Holy See (COSEA), Joseph F.X. Zahra, in relation to some of the areas of activity within its remit.

Following its review in previous Meetings of the Congregations of the Roman Curia, the Council is now focusing on the Pontifical Councils, first in terms of general considerations, followed by an individual appraisal of each one. The Council is expected to complete a first report of its considerations regarding the Pontifical Councils during this Meeting.

The Council of Cardinals will hold a further four-day meeting in July (1-4 July).

There is still much work to be done, and it is therefore to be expected that it will be completed not this year, but instead during the next.

The previous Meetings of the Council took place on 1-3 October 2013, 3-5 December 2013, and 17-19 February 2014.

The first meeting of the new Council for the Economy will be held on Friday, 2 May.
Text from Vatican Radio website 

Mass of Thanksgiving at Vatican for Canonization of 2 Popes

(Vatican Radio) Two Masses of thanksgiving took place on Monday morning for the two new saints who were canonised by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square on Sunday.
In the same square in front of St Peter’s Basilica, thousands of mainly Polish pilgrims gathered for Mass celebrated by the Archpriest of the Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, to give thanks for the life and lengthy pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

In his homily Cardinal Comastri said the new saint John Paul II had the courage to proclaim openly his faith in Christ at a moment in history when people were living as if God did not exist. Noting that as his body became weaker, his witness became stronger, Cardinal Comastri described the faith of Karol Wojtyla as “authentic and free from fear or compromise”. In particular he noted the former pope’s courageous defense of the family and the dignity of human life, but also his opposition to the two Gulf wars and his tireless struggle for peace among peoples and nation. Finally the Cardinal spoke of the Polish pope’s special attention to young people and his total dedication to Mary, into whose loving hands he entrusted his whole life.

Meanwhile at the central Rome church of San Carlo al Corso, the Bishop of Bergamo Francesco Beschi led a Mass of thanksgiving for the life and legacy of Saint John XXIII. In the same church where Pope John received his episcopal ordination, Bishop Beschi responded to the letter which Pope Francis had sent to the local diocesan newspaper on the eve of the canonisation.

He said such words of personal encouragement would help all people of the diocese safeguard the values of simplicity, generosity and solidarity which nurtured the faith of the young Angelo Roncalli. Secondly, he said the letter encouraged them to respond to the challenges and signs of the times with that ‘obedience to the Spirit’ that characterised ‘good Pope John’. Finally he said it would help them follow faithfully the path set out by the Second Vatican Council which Pope John called to renew the life of Church and revitalise the faith of all Christian men and women.
Text from Vatican Radio website oo

Pope Francis Regina Caeli on Canonization

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a message of thanks on Sunday during his Regina Coeli address, following the canonization Mass of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.

The Pope thanked all of the pilgrims and the official delegates who traveled to Rome for the occasion. He also thanked the Italian authorities for their generous work and collaboration in preparing for this event.

He greeted the pilgrims from the home dioceses of the new saints—Bergamo and Krakow—exhorting them to “honour the memory of these two holy Popes by following their teachings faithfully”.

He also issued a special greeting “for the sick and the aged, to whom the new saints were particularly close.”


Read the full text of the Pope’s address below:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before concluding this celebration of faith, I wish to greet and thank all of you!

I thank my brother cardinals and the many bishops and priests from every part of the world.

My appreciation goes to the official delegations from many countries, who came to pay tribute to two pontiffs, who contributed in an indelible way to the cause of human development and to peace. A special thank-you goes to the Italian authorities for their precious collaboration.

With great affection, I greet the pilgrims from the dioceses of Bergamo and Krakow! Dear ones, honour the memory of these two holy Popes by following their teachings faithfully.

I am grateful for all those who, with great generosity, prepared these memorable days: the Diocese of Rome with Cardinal Vallini, the City of Rome and its Mayor Ignazio Marino, the law enforcement officers and various organizations, the associations and the numerous volunteers. Thanks to all!

My greeting goes to all the pilgrims—here in St. Peter’s Square, in adjacent streets and in other locations in Rome—as well as to those who are united to us through radio and television; and thank you to the media directors and personnel, who have given many people the possibility to participate. For the sick and the aged, to whom the new saints were particularly close, I add a special greeting.

And now, we turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, who Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II had loved as her true sons.


Text from  Vatican Radio website 

Saint April 29 : St. Catherine of Siena - Doctor of the Church - Patron of Television, Nurses and Europe

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
Patron of:against fire, bodily ills, Europe, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, television
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.
When we read the lives of the saints, and consider the wonderful graces with which God enriched them, we admire their happiness in being so highly favored by him, and say to ourselves that their labors and sufferings bore no proportion to the sweetness of heavenly peace and love with which their souls were replenished, and the spiritual joy and consolations which were a present superabundant recompense and support. But it was in the victory over their passions, in the fervor of their charity, and in the perfection of their humility, patience, and meekness, that their virtue and their happiness chiefly consisted. Nor are we to imagine that God raised them to these sublime graces without their assiduous application to the practice both of exterior and interior mortification, especially of the latter. Self-denial prepared them for this state of perfect virtue, and supported them in it. What pity is it to hear persons talk of sublime virtue, and to see them pretend to aspire after it, without having studied in earnest to die to themselves. Without this condition, all their fine discourses are mere speculation, and their endeavors fruitless.



source: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/C/stcatherineofsiena.asp#ixzz1tSKYtgrY
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