Who’s Afraid?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Who’s Afraid?
St. Catherine of Siena 

Fr. Richard Rohr reminds us that: “We all live in the in-between of our lives. We don’t have to be afraid, but we are. That is the fragile and defenseless state of our human nature. We are always living in hope of full resurrection, … We are condemned to live in the in-between—between right here, right now—and what is always not yet. Faith alone builds the bridge between the two.”


The patron saint of today, St. Catherine of Siena, was not afraid.  She died at the age of 33.   (1347-1380) but in her lifetime, as a lay member of the Dominican Third Order she instructed and encouraged the faithful regarding public affairs.  At age 19 she began an intense spiritual life.  Her reputation developed and she received correspondence from leaders in Europe regarding spiritual and political issues; primary among them, the return of the seat of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. (from 1309-1377, seven successive popes resided in Avignon, France rather than Rome all due to a struggle about finances between King Philip IV (r. 1285–1314 and Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303).When Gregory XI became Pope (r. 1370–1378) he made a vow that he would return the papacy to Rome.   Fear kept him from keeping his vow, but S. Catherine knew of it and challenged him to fulfill it with these words. . 

“I have prayed, and shall pray, sweet and good Jesus that  He free you from all servile fear, and that holy fear alone remain.  May ardor of charity be in you, in such wise as shall prevent you fro hearing the voice of incarnate demons, and heeding the counsel of perverse counselors, settled in self-love, who, as I understand, want to alarm you, so as to prevent your return, saying  “You will die.”  Up, father, like a man!  For I tell you that you have no need to fear.” 

Gregory XI responded positively to the plea and  prayers of St. Catherine of Siena and returned the papacy to Rome on January 17, 1377.

"To the servant of God every place is the right place, and every time is the right time."
St. Catherine of Siena Letter T328

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