St. Catherine of Siena

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/02/27 at 12:00 AM

In the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, there is an altar dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena, and above the bronze statue of St. Catherine is a quote we hear in today’s Gospel: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Indeed, as we look through the annals of Church history, it is difficult to find a saint more zealous for our Lord than St. Catherine of Siena. We are blessed to have an image of her receiving the Rosary and a crown of thorns from our infant Lord in the first window on the left side of the church.
A miracle worker, counselor, peace-maker, stigmatist, and mystic all-in-one, St. Catherine is of those saints who truly shaped the course of the Church’s history, most decidedly by bringing the popes back to Rome after nearly 70 years of residing in Avignon.
While we could talk for hours about the miraculous life of St. Catherine, what is most important to understand about her is that she simply burned with the fire of God’s love, and it was this love for God that impelled her to live as she did.
Constantly ridiculed, mocked, looked down upon, and even tried as a heretic at one point, St. Catherine often suffered in very public ways. She also suffered from many physical ailments and constant pain from her stigmata.
But St. Catherine never let her sufferings get in the way of being one of Christ’s faithful and steadfast disciples. Rather, in her great zeal for our Lord and His Church, she simply united her sufferings to His, and found great strength and consolation in this union of suffering.
In our second reading today we are told that as Christians we are called to “proclaim Christ crucified.” In saying that we proclaim Christ crucified, we are recognizing the value of His Passion and death, and we, in turn, must embrace suffering and self-denial as a means of uniting ourselves with His Passion and death so that our Lord’s love may become known.
Thus, cultivating zeal within ourselves is so necessary, for it is our zeal for our Lord that leads us to the willingness to suffer and deny ourselves so that we proclaim Christ crucified.
In our zeal we should look for ways to die to self so that Christ may live within us. The holy season of Lent reminds us that we should turn to fasting, penance and almsgiving as ways to die to ourselves. But these aren’t the only ways to proclaim Christ crucified.
Simply practicing acts of charity, forgiving those who have harmed us in any way, and offering up our sufferings – no matter how big or small – are also great ways of proclaiming Christ crucified with our lives.
Living according to the commandments, which are given to us in the first reading, is another way to proclaim Christ crucified. These commandments, given by God Himself, should form the basis of morality not simply for Christians, but for all people because they come from God Himself.
Sadly our passions and feelings often lead us into sin, and thus, living according to these commandments requires that we put to death that part of us that desires sin, that we say no to our own selfish will so that we may live united to God’s most holy will.
But in today’s world, there is even more we must do. As Providence would have it, we are now living in a time and place when there are lots of opportunities to proclaim Christ crucified with great zeal because of the persecution that’s being leveled against us as Catholics.
So much of what we believe as Catholics seems like foolishness to the world, and because of this we are now being told by our government through the recent HHS mandate that we will
now have to violate certain tenets of our faith, even though our constitution provides protection from this type of governmental interference in the practice of our faith.
While it is a terrible thing that the Obama Administration is trampling upon ourconstitutional rights as Catholic Americans, we must see in this dire situation a great opportunity for growth in holiness, if we are zealous enough to seize this opportunity!
While none of us enjoys persecution, if we are willing to endure the persecution and fight forwhat we know is true, good, and beautiful – namely all that our Church teaches and believes – then we will hasten our personal sanctification and grow in holiness.
In looking at today’s Gospel we see Jesus getting angry with the money changers because oftheir complete lack of respect for God.
Jesus was upset because the money changers were using the Temple as a place of commerceand not a place of worship. They were using religion for personal gain. They had no respect for God’s law – they just sought to benefit from it. So He drove them out, and rightly so.
In the same way, we must work to drive out of our society all that is contrary to God’s law,all that is sinful and therefore displeasing to God. Coming up this May we in North Carolina will have an opportunity to do just that with regard to one important issue.
Hopefully by now you know that there is a marriage amendment on the May 8th electionballot that would enshrine in our state constitution the historic definition of marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman.
The bishops of our state, Bishop Jugis and Bishop Burbidge, are urging all Catholics in NorthCarolina to vote “YES” to this amendment in order to protect marriage from being redefined by future legislative or judicial actions.
Those opposed to this amendment are saying that it is an act of bigotry and discrimination tosame-sex couples, who are being accorded the right to marry in other states.
But let’s understand something: nothing revealed by Christ and taught by His Churchthrough Sacred Scripture and Tradition can be bigoted or discriminatory. God is not a bigot!
While all people have a right to get married, having the right to marriage does not accord onethe right to redefine marriage. Marriage is what marriage is. It’s defined by God.
Think for a moment how ridiculous it would be for someone to say I want to redefine whattrees are so that the definition of trees includes telephone poles.
They could point out the similarities of how telephone poles are tall and slender and made ofwood, just like trees. With this in mind, they could insist that we must all treat telephone poles just like we treat trees.
While this comparison yields some truth, namely that telephone poles are indeed tall andslender and made of wood, telephone poles, nevertheless, lack the essential quality of trees: that trees are living and capable of reproducing, and because of this trees are beautiful!
Because they are devoid of fruit and foliage like trees, telephone poles are never beautiful.
The same is true of same sex unions. While they may provide some comfort and benefits tothose involved, they are by their nature as sterile and lifeless as telephone poles, and therefore they can never be a true marriage, and thus cannot be defined as such.
For us to vote on May 8th to reaffirm the truth of marriage is not an act of bigotry or discrimination. We are not denying anyone their civil rights. Voting “YES” on thisamendment is an act of charity, for it will help others to come to know and abide by the truth of what marriage really is.
Brothers and sisters, we are called today to proclaim Christ crucified. Sometimes when we do so, it means that we, too, may be crucified. But consumed with zeal for our Lord and His Church, let us courageously stand up for what we know to be true, good, and beautiful.
May our Lord bless us and protect us as we seek to do His will and lead others to the knowledge of His truth.
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

You can go directly to his homilies:

11 March 2012



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