Thursday, April 30, 2015
The Virgin Catherine, and Peacockery!
St Catherine of Sienna was a splendid women, daring to demand the Pope return from Avignon, rebuking princes, reconciling sinners, writing to practically everyone of significance in her age and being a stigmatic, but (in order to avoid peacockery?) it being invisible.
None of this seems to touch the Office for her feast. What the Church wants us to concentrate on is her virginity. It is virginity that is seen as her glory, and it supposed to be the glory of the Church too. She is no fainting virgin but a true soul united to Christ.
I know that we consecrate virginity, still. and indeed after VII it was extended to women living in the world, but I get the impression we are rather embarrassed not so much by the idea of 'consecration' but by 'virginity'. It is a sign of the time. No wonder with eleven year olds reportedly addicted to to pornography. And no wonder with a reported significant 'gay lobby' within a celibate priesthood, at least in some parts of the world.
Virginity is about bodily integrity, it is also about spiritual integrity, purposely consecrating one's mind and every thought to Jesus Christ, striving day by day for ever closer union with him. There is a heroic degree of self denial that is involved, something which demands constant serious mortification of the mind. It is certainly made much easier by strong habits of prayer, and if one is of that kind disposition, not everyone is so graced, by deep a personal affection for the person of Jesus. Everything that Catherine writes and does comes from her union with Christ, her betrothal to him, this is why the Church honours her.
Today there seems to be a tendency within the Church, even at the highest levels to question the value of virginity and celibacy, in do reality I suspect we are questioning whether it is possible to live united to Christ.
Much today that is discussed in the Church seems to be about concentrating on human weakness, rather than what Grace can achieve. I am sure one of Catherine's contemporariness illustrated a sermon by comparing the plumage of the peahen with our natural fallen state whilst the peacock shows the nature of a peahen graced by Christ. Catherine because of her union with Christ shone with Grace
Posted by Fr Ray Blake