St. Catherine of Siena | Setting the World Ablaze – Week 7
Week Seven: Wheat and Tares
“His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire…” –Revelation 1:14
A little bit of history…
Chapter Seven begins, “If the state of the Church in the modern world ever causes you anxiety, one of the most helpful remedies is to spend some time reading up on the history of the Church in the fourteenth century.”
To borrow from King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9:
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
In St. Catherine’s day, there were also positive movements within the hierarchy but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to prevent the seeds being sown for the Great Western Schism or the Protestant Revolution after that disaster.
One of the most scandalizing corruptions of the time was the selling of indulgences. Indulgences are legitimate. Selling them is not! In fact, “simony” (the buying and selling of spiritual things) is prohibited in Canon Law. If you’d like to learn more about the theology of Simony, read St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica II-II, Question 100.
A little bit of theology…
In St. Catherine, Pope Gregory “found a true and trusted advisor.” She was such an authority for him that his friends hated her. Last week we discussed the cardinal virtue of justice. This week I’d like to reflect on the cardinal virtue of prudence. The “charioteer” or “mother” of the virtues. Catherine embodied this virtue which is why the pope sought her counsel. Prudence is the ability to discern the true good in every situation AND the best means to attain it. Remember, virtues are habits. Being virtuous doesn’t mean you never slip up, but it does mean in general you don’t! Prudence is considered the “charioteer” (in modern language, “the GPS” of the virtues) because it is the perfection of man’s intellect. And the use of the intellect is man’s greatest power. In his book on the Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Piper writes that one can only receive prudent advice from a few close friends since it is not likely that more than a few really understand who you are and the depth of your circumstances. (To learn more about the cardinal virtues, see Catechism of the Church, see Part III, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 7)
A little bit of spirituality…
The essential question in troubling times is “Is there something greater than sin?” We know (from history and our own experience) that moral coherency is certainly not what members of the Church bring to the world. The “new” thing the Church brings is the gospel of mercy.
True believers are certainly hurt and justifiably outraged by the “leprosy of holy Church;” to put it in St. Catherine’s words, but they are not scandalized. Being deeply rooted in the Faith means you are able to verify the “hint of a new humanity” through His presence regardless of the circumstances. Another reason true believers are not scandalized by anything is because we are familiar with our own brokenness: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
One of Endow’s charisms is to unleash mercy by praying for our priests. Recently, Endow’s chaplain, Fr. Riley told our team, “You can hold us (priests) to high standards…but only if you pray for us.”
Oremus pro invincem, (Let us pray for each other)
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.