Sancta Catherina, Ora Pro Nobis!
Today I am fuming, and wondering for the umpteenth time how much longer I can put up with Newchurch and the Novus Ordo Mass…
It’s the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, whether you are reading this today or tomorrow. It has always been April 30th, but for some inexplicable reason those who concocted Archbishop Bugnini’s new calendar moved it back by one day.
Having uttered his customary non-rubrical salutation “Good Morning” (now de rigueur in most parishes) Father told us a little about St. Catherine. She was a “strong woman” (of course) who had told the Pope of her day what to do. Imagine a woman of the fourteenth century ordering a Pope around! But being a sensible man, said Father, he had agreed to obey her and return from Avignon to live in Rome.
I’ve been reading up a bit about this. What actually happened subsequently was that Catherine received reports that Gregory XI, influenced by the French cardinals, was having second thoughts. Catherine (who, though now a Doctor of the Church, was illiterate) dictated letters urging the pope to fulfil his promise and make the hard decision: “I beg of you, on behalf of Christ crucified, that you be not a timorous child but manly. Open your mouth and swallow down the bitter for the sweet.” Apparently he was afraid of being poisoned by French cardinals if he went back to Rome. But Catherine continued:
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 ardour of charity be in you, in such wise as shall prevent you from hearing the voice of incarnate demons, and heeding the counsel of perverse counsellors, 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 listened to the pleadings and prayers of St. Catherine of Siena and returned the papacy to Rome on January 17, 1377. The scandal and shame of the Avignon papacy was at an end.
It occurred to me that maybe we could do with another St. Catherine today. Talk about “the counsel of perverse counsellors, settled in self-love”.
After the Gospel Father told us about Pope Francis’ beautiful apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and how wonderful and merciful it was, and how important it was to make everyone feel included. What made me so furious was that many of the congregation, having heard about the controversy and confusion over whether or not this means unrepentant adulterers can be admitted to Holy Communion, may well now believe that indeed they can.
Maybe I should have stood up and challenged him, but I didn’t have the guts. I decided I was in no frame of mind to receive Holy Communion, so I didn’t. I don’t believe being angry with a priest in circumstances like these is a great juicy mortaller, but I just felt I shouldn’t.
Did I do right? What would St. Catherine have done?