Thursday, October 30, 2008
When I was a little girl, I wished my patron saint were St. Catherine of Alexandria, not St. Catherine of Siena.
I had good reason. The former was pictured in our family's book of saints as a beautiful young maiden with long, flowing blonde hair. The story was she was so beautiful that some guy wanted to marry her and went all crazy. Anyway, of course I wanted her to be my patron, not that Italian chick who worn the Dominican habit. She had RED hair, and when her mother told her it was her best feature, she cut it off! Oh dear. It was quite obvious that she was not the appropriate patron for me.
But, alas, my mother was quite clear that Catherine of Siena was the saint for which I had been named. I was stuck with her, and she with me.
For years I thought that all that she and I shared was a name.
But that Catherine was one spicy girl.
A few years ago I read the excellent book by Louis DeWohl, Lay Siege to Heaven, and I fell in love with my patron. She was feisty, mysterious, and bold. She corresponded with kings, spoke face to face with Our Lord, and persuaded the Pope to come back to Rome.
She was awesome.
I'm thinking of her this week because I'm wondering what kind of woman I am. I want to be feisty, mysterious and bold, but I don't want to be obnoxious and offensive. I want to share the "vision" I feel I've been given, but I don't want to blow everyone out of the water every time I open my mouth.
I'm not sure how to do this.
I have the feeling that Catherine was an embarrassment to her family at times. Against their will, she chose a life of consecrated virginity. And if she had had a husband, I KNOW he would have been embarrassed. She was outspoken and outrageous. In a time when women were definitely meant to be seen and not heard, she spoke loudly to powerful men.
She said, "My nature is fire."
She also had the privilege and burden of frequent visits from Jesus Himself. She bore an invisible stigmata for years and lived in constant pain. She battled severe temptations (especially sexual ones) and suffered a painful illness before her death at age 33. Then the local townspeople, disappointed that she was to be buried in Rome, lopped off her head and carted it home so they could keep a bit of her in Siena.
Would've been easier to be that blonde Catherine, huh?
But she was what she was, as am I.
I've sat down at this computer 100 times to, I don't know, bare my soul, share my thoughts, ease my pain? I try sometimes not to be, but I'm usually transparent. I may sometimes be maudlin, annoying, obnoxious, or embarrassing. If I'm not doing that here, be assured, I'm doing it plenty in "real" life.
I know that the quality that allowed St. Catherine to speak the truth boldly probably made her look foolish at times. I'm just praying I'll be blessed with just a fraction of Catherine's charm and influence and be spared the foolish part, which just comes so easily to me.
So St. Catherine, this post's for you. I can't wait to meet you someday. Help me to speak when I must and be still when I should. Allow me the grace of boldness and the gift of silence. Guide my actions, my words, my thoughts, my longings. Remind me that all that matters is our Jesus.
Help me to become what I should.
"When we are whom we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze." St. Catherine of Siena
beautiful artwork by Patricia Brintle
Posted by Cathy Adamkiewicz at 9:14 PM