April 29, 2016, Friday – Reject Double Lives
Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
“Don’t walk with one foot in the light and the other in darkness.” —Pope Francis, in his homily this morning at his daily morning Mass in the Domus Santa Marta (link)
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—First Letter of St. John, Verses 6-9, the reading for this morning at the Pope’s Mass
“Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee.” —St. Catherine of Sienna
“And if somebody sins, He is waiting for us and pardons us because He is merciful and knows very well what we are shaped from and remembers that we are but dust.”—Pope Francis this morning
One of Europe’s Patron Saints
St. Catherine of Siena died on this day, April 29, in the year 1380 – 636 years ago.
She was a Third Order Dominican. She died in Rome. She died at the age of 33.
She is buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, near the Pantheon. Her head, however, was later parted from her body and is kept in Siena.
On October 3, 1970, St. Catherine was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.
On October 1, 1999, St. John Paul II named her as one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with St. Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Edith Stein.
Catherine is said by her confessor and biographer Raymond of Capua, O.P., to have had her first vision of Christ when she was the age of five or six.
With her brother, she was on the way home from a visit to a married sister and is said to have experienced a vision of Christ seated in glory with the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John.
At age seven, Catherine vowed to give her whole life to God.
Her older sister, Bonaventura, died in childbirth. While tormented with sorrow, Catherine, now 16, rejected her parents’ wish that she marry Bonaventura’s widower, fasting and cutting off her long hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance to attract a husband.
Catherine would later advise Raymond of Capua to do during times of trouble what she did then as a teenager: “Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee.”
Catherine resisted the accepted course of marriage and motherhood, on the one hand, or a nun’s veil, on the other.
She chose to live an active and prayerful life outside a convent’s walls following the model of the Dominicans.
She lived in almost total silence and solitude in her family home
In about 1368, age 21, Catherine experienced what she described in her letters as a “Mystical Marriage” with Jesus.
She was told by Christ to leave her withdrawn life and enter the public life of the world.
Catherine began helping the ill and the poor, taking care of them in hospitals or homes.
Her pious activities in Siena attracted a group of followers, women and men, who gathered around her.
She urged Pope Gregory XI to return the papacy to Rome from its 70 years of “exile” in Avignon, France.
In the end, he did return.
Since June 18, 1939, she is one of the two patron saints of Italy, together with St. Francis of Assisi.
“No To Double Lives: Christians Are People of Light”
(Here, Pope Francis, preaching this morning in the Domus Santa Marta chapel)
Pope Francis this morning warned Christians against living double lives, displaying an outer facade of light but having darkness in their hearts.
He urged them to walk in the light and not tread dark paths, saying God’s truth cannot be found there.
The Pope’s remarks came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Friday morning in the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his cue from the reading of St John’s First Letter, Pope Francis reflected on the eternal struggle against sin, saying we must be pure like the Father but even if we sin we can count on his pardon and his tenderness.
He stressed the Apostle’s warning to believers to tell the truth and not have double lives, saying one thing but doing another.
Walk in the light
“If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light,” Francis said.
“But no to double lives! Not that!
“That lie that we are so used to seeing and where we too sometimes fall, don’t we? To say one thing and do another, right? It’s the never-ending temptation.
“And we know where that lie comes from: in the Bible, Jesus calls the devil ‘the father of lies,’ the liar.
“It’s for this reason that this grandfather says with infinite tenderness and meekness to the ‘adolescent’ Church: ‘Don’t be a liar! You are in communion with God, walk in the light. Do works of light, don’t say one thing and do another. No to double lives and all that.”
“Bigger than our sins”
Noting how John began his Letter with the greeting, “children,” Pope Francis said this affectionate beginning is just like the tone of a grandfather towards his ‘young grandchildren’ and reveals the tenderness and light contained in this reading.
It also recalls Jesus’ words when he promised “rest” to all those “who labor and are overburdened.”
In the same way, the Pope continued, John urges his readers not to sin but if somebody does, to not be discouraged by this.
“We have a Paraclete, a word, an advocate, a defender at the Father’s side, it’s Jesus Christ, the Upright One,” Francis said. “He makes us righteous. It is He who pardons us.”
And he continued: “A person may feel like saying to this grandfather who gives us this advice: ‘But is it such a bad thing to have sins?’ ‘No, a sin is a bad thing! But if you have sinned, look at who is waiting to pardon you.’ Always! That’s because He, our Lord, is greater than our sins.”
The Pope concluded by saying this is God’s Mercy and his greatness and it’s from Him alone that we can get our strength.
“We must walk in the light because God is Light,” Francis said. “Don’t walk with one foot in the light and the other in darkness. Do not be liars.
“And one other thing: we have all sinned. Nobody can say: ‘This man is a sinner, this woman is a sinner. I, thanks to God, am upright.’
“No, only one is Upright, He who paid for us.
“And if somebody sins, He is waiting for us and pardons us because He is merciful and knows very well what we are shaped from and remembers that we are but dust.
“May the joy that this Letter gives us, carry us forward in the simplicity and the transparency of the Christian life, above all when we turn to the Lord… with truth.”
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What is the glory of God?
“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.