LITURGY FOR THE DAY: WEDNESDAY April 29, 1998


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Wednesday, April 29, 1998

SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

      One of the great Doctors of the Church, Saint Catherine, born in 1347 in Sienna, was blessed with apparitions of Our Lord when she was only seven years old. Jesus requested of Catherine, "Please give Me your heart." Catherine willingly did so and in return, He gave her His Most Sacred Heart for God had a special mission for this special saint He raised up for the Church. At 15 she entered the Third Order of St. Dominic. Though courted by many young and noble bachelors, Catherine remembered what Christ had asked her and turned down numerous offers of marriage to become a bride of Christ with the Dominicans. Catherine did not know what exactly her mission was, but prepared for it through penance and prayer, devoting herself to the poor. She knew in her heart the Pope belonged in Rome, the seat of Christianity. Therefore, she made a pilgrimage to Avignon in Southern France to persuade the Pontiff Pope Gregory XI to return from exile to Rome where he belonged. Heeding the advice of this simple nun, he did as she requested for he knew intuitively that it was God's Will for God had sent Catherine as a light in the darkness during this dark time in Church history. Dissension followed Gregory's decision to return and those who followed their own will tried to elect a false pope and keep him in Avignon, but again Catherine intervened and lovingly, wisely counseled those in power to accept Gregory as the true pope and desist from promoting anyone else. They, too, understood this was God's Will and they obeyed, lifting all barriers and allowing Gregory to return the papacy to Rome. Both Gregory and his successor Pope Urban VI asked her counsel often, knowing it was of the Holy Spirit. Catherine died at the same age as Christ, 33 years old, receiving not only Jesus' Heart but His wounds as well as she was bestowed with the stigmata. The world mourned this great saint in 1380 for she had touched and brought many nations and princes back to the true faith through her simple, but firm faith. She also prophecied the schisms that would come in the following centuries. In 1970, Pope Paul VI officially proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church.

Thursday, April 30, 1998

SAINT PIUS V, POPE AND RELIGIOUS

      A Dominican who followed in the tradition of St. Catherine of Siena nearly two centuries later was Cardinal Michael Ghislieri who went on to become the great Pope Saint Pius V. Another of the great saints who God rose up in the "Century of Saints," Pius V was one of the most influential in Church history as he brought about renewal in the Church, carrying out many of the reforms that would reinstate the holiness and status of Holy Mother Church. Amidst the ruin of the Protestant Reformation, the corruption within the Church, and the threat of Turkish invasion, Pius carried out the teachings of the Council of Trent which had begun in 1545. The fruits of Trent are still evident today for Pius ordered the founding of seminaries for the training of priests, published a new Missal, Breviary, Catechism and initiated the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) for the youth to learn the faith. In addition, he established the Tridentine Mass which he proclaimed would be said "in perpetuity." His devotion to the Rosary and spreading the power of Our Lady's special weapon, proved victorious when he summoned all Catholics to throw themselves upon the Mercy of God and pray the Holy Rosary in begging God to save the Church from the Turks. On October 7, 1571 against unsurmountable odds, the Christian forces were miraculously victorious over the Turks in the Gulf of Lepanto off of Greece. The tremendous power of the Rosary was made manifest and that date became the official feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pius died in 1572.