The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

Around August 15th, about the time the news broke out on Cardinal McCarrick and the priest sex abuse scandal, I had just received my copy of ‘The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.  For some reason, right before this horrific news hit, I felt compelled to read it.  Even though I have read many books on St. Catherine, this one I hadn’t.  This book is the one big source to her total being.  It is odd to me that I hadn’t read it and yet now was the most perfect time to read it.

Quite frankly, I wish I could post a pic of each page and upload her text so you can just skip what I have to say about it and read what was written.

For those who don’t know about this book or St. Catherine, her life’s purpose in a nutshell had to do with reform of the Church. This book is the essential piece to the work she performed to help rid the Church of bad clergy.  Much of St. Catherine’s life was a selfless act of humility and servitude. All she wanted was for others to come to Christ and to defend the Church. Two things I hold dear in my heart.  However, I am no way near selflessness. But thanks to God, through St. Catherine, He used her at a time when much revolt was occurring and educated her to evangelize the masses during it.

St. Catherine was gifted with such openness to have our Father God speak to her.  With that, he gave her multiple “talks” on how to respond, how to pray, what to teach/pass on, how to stay on course of the faith, etc. during the time of purging and restoration.

The dialogue is based on “bad clergy” and Our Lord’s response to that.  He often refers to them not as bad clergy but priests who rather “self love” than to love God.

God’s speech to St. Catherine defines who follows Christ and those who don’t. He points out to her what He sees in both.

This excerpt is identifying those who are full of self love. From the book: “…nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his Profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body, but not on his heart.”

Father God shares with St. Catherine that there are priests performing evil acts.  Some so far into it, they can’t even turn away or find God’s mercy.  So they continue to stay in their sin and filth.  He instructs St. Catherine to pray for them. Pray they come to ask for God’s mercy before they die and how worse is it for a Priest to commit their abuse and never have asked God for forgiveness then for anyone who has committed the same abuse.

He goes onto telling St. Catherine that as much as we despise these “priests” who are causing evil in the Church and letting it fester, that we not lose sight that they are still Priests.  To not slander their name or mock them. But to instead pray. To remember, they are priests and that they are His.

He tells her: ” You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are my Christ’s, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”

After I read this, I completely understood it. It hit my soul….”of course.”  These Priests are under attack.  And some weak, they don’t even know it anymore. There are layers to these crimes committed and are being committed and who they affect.

Vow, Priest, sin, (mercy) >>>Church, Eucharist, faithful, (salvation).

It is not that Our Lord does not want us to be angry at what they’ve done, but to center on the problem that is causing this awful sin and that is the Devil himself.  The devil and all darkness is whom we are fighting.

The words and imagery used by Our Lord to St. Catherine speak with love and ferocity. His words are nothing but love and how awful it is for those who lose sight of it. What happens to us when we lose sight of Christ in our lives? Our world becomes foggy, we become clouded by our sin, our hearts are clogged.

This book came at the right time.  And since, I keep seeing clergy to the faithful, refer to St. Catherine as a reference on how to go forward. She is thrust out on the forefront again. Rallying the faithful to stop and recognize who we are in this fight against the evil that is in the Church by those who for far too long have kept it hidden.  The struggle seems the same but it is new to us. The push to make change or to put an end to the darkness is slowing happening. The task seems overwhelming. But if we take into account, this book, and its bits of instruction, we can plow through.  Let’s stay on the Ship.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. +++

What is Truth?

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Pilate’s response has been ringing in my head these days. I’ve been thinking about his response in relation to current events. The illusionist is working many angles from religion to politics to family relationships. I understand this is nothing new. But what seems different to me is the loss of respect in people’s attempt to defend their truth.

The lines of facts are skewed and there are many who use them to benefit a cause/point no matter if there is validity. If they believe them to be true, that’s all that matters. Reason or logic to a situation isn’t taken into consideration and what seems even worse is that people don’t care what that might mean to the person/persons it affects.

Credibility weakens when facts are skewed because the person/persons where respect was once given is thrown out the window too.  Seeing this more towards the Church.  The mocking and the not taking seriously the Church’s position to everyday moral questions by Catholics and Non Catholics. However, it is not just the Church authority that is suffering. There is a string of other high regard positions of people under attack as well. From school teachers, law enforcement, business leaders, medical professionals, pharmaceutical industry, political office, etc. Never have I felt credibility to not be important to possess, but it seems from recent events, accountability and respect are becoming blurred and the attempt by the devil is to make people lose sight of order and control.

The biggest example is from Church leaders. Certain clergy are still visible doing things that they shouldn’t be. The faithful, from my assertion, are moving on knowing there’s only so much they can do or put their time and energy into the fight. The visible results are slowing being seen. It’s not that nothing is being done, but it might appear to some it isn’t changing.  I feel all must share and care to inform others change will take time.

Now going back to the truth, if you don’t show honor to ones truth, then you must side with the opposition and therefore you’re the enemy. Sensitivity and boundaries seem to not work for everyone. If you’re not for them, you’re against them. People want you to not take away their ideals, but are not understanding that’s what they’re doing to you.  Some news line is fed out and people, without further researching, believe it. They never look past it and then begin using it as a weapon of defense on something that is not true.

There are countless sources out on the internet feeding people garbage that they believe in and end up falling in the trap. Untruths about the President, the Pope, government programs, crimes, etc. They tend to not go further into fact checking and become paralyzed with fear.  It’s awful and scary.  I truly believe that if they spent more time in their faith, practicing, their eyes would see what is truth and what are lies. I’m grateful Our Lord has me where I am, but I know I need to get deeper rooted.  I feel it for the sake of my own family.

The best I and others can do is help our brothers and sisters know what to focus on and where to take our fears. The world is changing fast and those around us may not see what their eyes are losing sight of.

Take notes from St Catherine on Priests

I had found a quote so perfect from St Catherine and had wanted to share, but I have misplaced it.  Came to my computer again this morning to search for it and stumbled upon this passage which provided it to me in multiple search results.  Let me preface here, I have read many books on St Catherine and know her as a warrior of the Church. I know her accolades but for whatever reason, my mind over the priest scandals our Church is facing lately, I had forgotten about these specific talks from God to her.   For two weeks now, I, and I know many, have been in a bit of a slump. Reading and hearing about the U.S. Church today and the scandals that are now being uncovered. It’s devastating what has been brought to light on Cardinal McCarrick.

Yesterday, I began writing a blog on what I felt, but had to step away because I was overwhelmed. Most of the time, when I blog, it helps relieve tension.  Almost like I’m surrendering it to God and helping me receive peace afterward.  But I knew this time, I was wrestling with it differently.

Like I mentioned when I began searching writings on St Catherine, I came upon her dialogue and now instead of sharing my blog on my emotions, I replace it with this. This says it all. No need for more. It’s what I should now focus on and help others to recognize the truth in it as well.

For two thousand years plus, Our Church has given us Saints for every occasion, for every time. St Catherine was one who during much conflict in the Church evangelized in her capacity and selfless will so that the faithful would not lose sight of purpose and love for Jesus Christ or His Church.  With that, I pass on what has already been clearly identified and no more need for me to become fixated, but to continue in the way Jesus calls on me.

God the Father spoke to St. Catherine of Siena about his “ministers,” the priests. She recorded it in her Dialogue:

…[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of… my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy… You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them.

 

St Catherine of Siena, pray for us! +++

I speak LOVE and you?

Let me begin by saying that this issue I’m about to speak of, I have expressed about before and have fumbled over it many times. I’ve also come to know that I am not the only one who has trouble with it.  It has to do with “LOVE LANGUAGE”.

Sometime ago, I heard on Jennifer Fulwiler’s radio show, speak about love language on her program.  I can’t remember who she was speaking with, but the topic was about being frustrated, down in the dumps about people’s behaviors towards oneself. Where you try to go the extra mile with certain people in your life so that they may revere you in the same way.  Where you share yourself with them the same way as you do with everyone else, but these individuals don’t bite.  This topic I come to again and find more and more lately, I am not the only one in this black hole.

Coming across others who experience the same thing, I tend to find the same characteristics.  Usually, the one who seemingly goes out of their way to engage with others, repeats the same tactics, feels like there is progress, and then find themselves right back where they started.  The lasting notion is that it is all very exhausting.

Going back to Jen Fulwiler’s talk, they hit on the answer well.  It has to do with people each having different love languages. What might be a way for you in how you engage your love is not the same for someone else.  This hit me like a ton of bricks!  I’m sure it is something I have heard before, but didn’t pay attention to. However, this time when I reflected on it, it gave me a whole new outlook.

Over and over again, I would find myself being squeezed into these situations.  It would feel like I’m running with a basket of love, carrying it here, there, over here, backwards, then running towards a doorway trying to not let it spill so they can receive it fully as I come towards a doorway that turns into a pinhole of their acceptance.  Most of the time, feeling like I just went from 20 yards ahead to 10 feet back! Never feeling the love I hoped for returned back in the way I was sending it.

This idea of love language allows me to focus on not tiring myself out in trying to appease, but to give what I normally do, and then let it go. It doesn’t exhaust me and I stop fretting over whether I did something right.

I also would like to touch on something that we heard in Sunday mass a couple of weeks ago and it goes with this scripture:

Cure of a Crippled Beggar. Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”

Fr. John at our parish spoke about that in our lives of faith sharing…we give what we have whatever form that may be.  If it’s our time, we give our time, if we can financially share, then we share, if we are a good baker or a handy person, then we give in those forms.  You get the picture. So when I think about how I have a giving a heart, I just do that…give.  And with my love for writing or expressing my faith walk, then I do that by writing on this blog.  Care for my husband and my mom in best way.  Being accessible to family and friends, when they look to me for a listening ear.

We give what we are given.  What God has graced us with.  It’s not about waiting for the best time to do it because we are measuring what we think is most valued, but instead giving in what we have today!! It’s not about gaining more of the world just so we can float on by in this life, but to share what we know and have.  Our love and time are free.  Whether faith filled knowledge, church knowledge, love, care giving, helping someone by preparing a meal or driving someone who needs a ride, etc.  It doesn’t have to big on a big scale.  It doesn’t need much prepping.  It doesn’t have to look like someone else’s gifts.  We each have it. Our Lord has given it and the more we pass it on, the more grace He will fill us up with to give again.

STOP looking for things not in your basket and START reaching in it and share the gifts that are in it.

————————–

Poem X

In this time
I find I
Though numbing as flight in the air
My mind goes
My body foes
God is always near
No drug I took
Just the humdrum of this thing
That comes over me
Stalled like someone who has tripped
Pulling, crawling
Coming to
‘Til a song breaks through
My dependence is new

Indelible Mark +

It was in a bible study class from my parish, where I first learned about the indelible mark.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1121 : The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or "seal" by which the Christian shares in Christ's priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible, it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated.

The clarity of this mark became known to me in my early 40s.  The whole time before that I had no idea what it meant.

Once I learned of this love that deciphers us from the world, it made my heart grow in a sense that the family, the Church, widen up to a bigger picture.

At times, when I walk around my city, or in the Church pews, or when I’m traveling, I often receive an emotion of peace and a strength because even though I can’t see that others are also marked I know among them they are around me.


For me, it’s a badge of honor, coat of arms,  military colors, a wedding band.  It helps me remember who I am to be.

In my family, I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning the significance of this mark and how very important I should keep myself reminded of it.  I can’t fully blame my immediate family because my parents carried their faith into our lives on how they received it.  No one dug deep into the faith.

I feel because of what God has given me, the knowledge I have to this point, the fire/zeal to learn about the faith, makes me responsible for sharing it. We all are called to.

What a precious gift we’ve been given in these sacraments where the ‘mark’ is given.  How even when we do the Sign of the Cross, it’s a pronounced action of what is already transfixed in us.

I recall a bible study that explains when the end of time comes, Our Lord will identify us by this indelible mark.

Revelation 7:4 I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked* from every tribe of the Israel.

The work from those with this mark have much to do.  Until the very end, our lives need to keep proclaiming for God’s will to be done.  Often at times in my life, I feel like I could be doing more.  But I recognize I have allowed fear to halt the work and all I can do is ask God to get me where He wants me to be and remove whatever barrier(s) are preventing me from living out my purpose.

I value more the fact that when I rise in the morning, the first thing I do is the Sign of the Cross.  This is how I begin my day and end it.

Lord God, this day, and everyday, may we live out the indelible mark. +

 

Vocation and God’s gifts

Here I am Lord, help me to find purpose in this life!

Have you ever prayed and prayed and are so willing for it but don’t know what it is? Yes, that’s me.

After being employed with a great company from the start of my marriage until having to quit due to my lupus (2003), I have always tried to keep busy in some way. So after receiving the desire to learn more about my Catholic faith, helped me become aware of the needs of the Church. So I sought out volunteer work.

I remember I started with prison pen pals.  A ministry where you were given names, age, of women to whom you could write to for spiritual guidance. I took this very seriously and really wanted to make the young women know I was praying for them.  I also had volunteered for a ministry where I would send aid and letters to a young girl in Pakistan.  I would receive pictures of her as years would go by and letters letting me know how she was doing.

At our Church, they had an ad in the bulletin about a need for crisis pregnancy center volunteers to help young women receive pregnancy tests and guidance to choose life for their unborn child. I signed up! I knew right away this is what I wanted to do.  I loved it and truly felt the Holy Spirit. I volunteered at Crisis Pregnancy for a few years.

I then volunteered at a food pantry called Paz de Cristo.  I loved the service they provided and volunteered part-time but then later took on a paid part-time position.  I was there two years assisting in all areas food stock, data entry, odds and ends.  At this time, I felt my health was getting a bit better where I could gauge how I would feel, so felt the courage to apply at the Diocese of Phoenix. I applied in the Human Resources department and God once again allowed me the desires of my heart.  I was working full-time and felt like I was back on track in the workforce.  I was doing well but knew I wanted to be closer to the faith and it’s education. That’s when I was offered a position in Family Catechesis.  This position paid less but the rewards were there!  I loved the group of people I worked with and learned so much about the faith. I was happy going to work and never complained what it asked of me.IMG_9384[1]At this time it was 2008. Once again, all of it changed. I caught C-Diff. A bacterial infection that cleans out your intestines of good bacteria and because of my lupus did so in quick fashion.  My system antibodies do not know how to fight and so they attack the good causing my system to shut down.  I was hospitalized for five days. Hospital doctor told my husband I could have died. I was given a strong antibiotic that to this day I pray I never have to take again because I am educated now on what I can do if needed. Even though I had a supportive boss, the setup for me to work from home or have any flexibility to hold onto my position was becoming a problem. I then quit and turned my attention to bettering my health.  For two years after the infection, I was still dealing with physical and emotional effects.  I was told by a friend who is a psychologist that I had PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder.  I had many restless and anxious nights. The fear of what it did to me caused my faith to grow in a new way – once again.

Back to vocation, since I no longer worked a desk job or received a check from an employer I have found ways to participate in this world with skills I have learned. So after a career in human resources and different work within the Diocese (administrative clerk work), I used some of the talent I gained and opened up a print design business from my home.

I received small jobs from time to time assisting in invitations, programs, business cards, flyers, posters, procedural manuals, etc.  Most of the work I did came from organizations within the Diocese – ministries, conferences, pro-life groups, youth education. It allowed me to do the work from any place at any time. Even with that flexibility, Our Lord always knew when I could take on work. Great thing is that when life challenges came, I wouldn’t have any work and then when life had time to focus on something, I would get work. It “worked” like that for three years.  It was great!!

But after a go at running this small business for these few years and I no longer had the passion for it, I knew it had reached its end.

Not that I no longer help out others like the Diocese, friends and/or family with print needs.  From time to time they come in and I’m just grateful to help.  However, because I didn’t find myself being aggressive enough and/or life events would take precedence, I decided it’s run was over.  I was happy in what I did produce but knew it was time for change.

I went through prayer asking the Lord to put in me something new.  So on one night I was watching TV and found a program speaking about atrocities done to the elderly in adult assisted living homes, a desire started to brew in my heart.

I knew I did not have the education or experience to become a caretaker but wasn’t sure that was where I wanted to be.  Then one day I saw a need for prayer aides for hospice facilities.  I knew this was it.  I took the training and began this volunteer need.  Right away I was taken by the reality of speaking to someone who was near death. Literally meeting them and then knowing next time I would come back to the hospice they would no longer be alive.  I’ll never forget the faces I looked at or the small conversations I had. I always prayed before I entered the building and prayed when I found them sleeping.  And I would always leave with more strength in my faith then when I arrived.

At this time, this is now on hold. After my Mom moving in and the many doctor appointments we had to go to, I could no longer be responsible for my shift. So I had to put it on hold.  I don’t know if I’ll be back at it again but I know for sure it had purpose!

I’m now praying for the vocation I am now in with my Mom.  People have told me that’s why I was sent for training for the hospice, because of my Mom.  I believe that and I’m still praying for His will to be done knowing … there is something else coming.

Why I share all of this is because none of these positions I held or volunteer work I did would have ever been on my radar if it wasn’t for my deeper conversion. Once I asked Jesus into my life, he took me to places where I could help and receive spiritual growth! Benefiting both the places where I helped and in turn helped me. We all have gifts and if you open your heart to the Holy Spirit, He will lead you. How I learned that lesson from the gospel and from Saint teachings!

Lord Jesus, may Your will be done!+++