St. Catharine of Siena

In 1964, St. Josemaria Escriva wanted Opus Dei to celebrate the feast of this saint. She is Catherine Benincasa, born into a prosperous urban family, her parents being Giacomo di Benincasa, a cloth-dyer, and Lapa Piagenti, a daughter of a local poet. She was the 23rd child out of 25, a Dominican tertiary, uneducated but brilliant and mystical who spoke the will of God fearlessly and resolutely to Kings, Cardinals and Popes.

The mission of Jesus Christ consisted primarily to teach the truth about God: “Let us go into the neighboring villages and towns, that there also I may preach. For this is why I have come” (Mk. 2, 38-39). Also, “Ego in hoc natus sum et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati” (Jn. 18, 37) [“I have been born and come into the world to give testimony to the truth”].[1]

Benedict XVI in the U.S. April 16-21/08:  Message. The hope of a “new springtime” after the passing of a religious culture that is petering out as a “quiet attrition” and a “quiet apostasy.” Benedict answered: “Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious culture sometimes disparagingly referred to as a ‘ghetto,’ which reinforced participation and identification with the Church. As I just mentioned, one of the great challenges facing the Church in this county is that of cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church’s living tradition” (Address to Bishops, National Shrine, Washington, April 16).

This change of culture from structure to personal attitude involves a change meaning for words that are doctrinal. For example:

1) Truth is a person: “Dear Friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ.  (cf. ‘Spe Salvi,’ 28). [Meeting with Youth and Seminarians, Yonkers, April 20].

2) As person, truth is not knowledge: “Truth means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her entirety, inviting us to respond with our whole being. This optimistic vision is found in our Christian faith because such faipth has been granted the vision of the Logos, God’s creative Reason, which in the Incarnation, is revealed as Goodness itself. Far from being just a communication of factual data – ‘informative’ – the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and life-changing – performative’ (cf. Spe Salvi, 2).”

3 Freedom is going out of self: That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others(cf. ‘Spe Salvi,’ 28). [Meeting with Youth and Seminarians, Yonkers, April 20].[2]

4 Jesus Christ is the prototype of man (man is not merely a rational animal): “(D)o we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)?” [To Catholic Educators, Thursday April 17 @ CUA]. “Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposed Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we being to the forum of interreligious dialogue” [To Interreligious Leaders, John Paul II Cultural Center,” Washington, April 17].

[1] Note that to teach and to offer sacrifice are the same act since the Person of Christ is the Word Who makes the gift of Himself in speech and on the Cross. See Ratzinger’s The Ministry and Life of Priests: “Jesus does not convey a knowledge that is independent from his own person, as any teacher or storyteller would do. He is something different from, and more than, a Rabbi. AS his preaching unfolds, it becomes ever clearer that his parables refer to himself, that the ‘Kingdom’ and his person belong together, that the Kingdom comes in his person. The decision that he demands is a decision about how one stands toward him, as with Peter, who said, ‘You are the Christ’ (Mark 8, 29). Ultimately, the message of his preaching about the Kingdom of God turns out to be quite clearly Jesus’ own Paschal mystery, his destiny of death and resurrection.”

[2] John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor #85: “The Crucifies Christs reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom.”

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