Feast of St Catherine of Siena

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Today is the feast day of St Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican, Doctor and Reformer Of The Church.

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Click here for a useful summary of her life.
  I was captivated by this quote from iBenedictine's post.

"All the nails in the world could not have held Christ to the cross had love not held him there."

But I am still so often left wondering why Christ chose to take this route.
It's a paradox !

"What I hate I love. Ask the crucified hand that holds
the nail that now is driven into itself, Why ?
Catallus: Id Faciam
Frank Bidart
 Dante begins La Vita Nuova:
“In quella parte del libro de la mia memoria dinanzi a la quale poco si potrebbe leggere, si trova una rubrica la quale dice: Incipit vita nova.
In that part of the book of my memory before which little could be read,a rubric is found that says: "Here begins the new life.”

It's that time of year when so many beautiful trees are coming into leaf again and new life is visible on every corner. So I'm thinking how the word ‘tree’ literally means ‘wood’ and is also a euphemism for the cross.

Three trees come to mind. The ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ in Genesis.  That time when the first humans stepped out of our intimacy and close relationship with our creator and God's response to the devil, personified as a serpent, was that that someday Christ would come and deal a death blow to evil but in the process of the conflict the devil would cause Christ to suffer. 

Fast forward to the image of the second tree, at the first Easter and Christ’s execution on the cross, by the hands of Roman soldiers at the behest of Jewish religious leaders.   

Then roll forward again to the Book Of Revelation which describes the last tree, the Tree of Life which stands on each side of the water of life which flows from God and down the middle of the great street of the city (Revelation 22:1 to 5). This tree constantly bears fruit and its leaves are for the healing of all the nations. The tree itself is not the source of this healing but is a symbol of God’s life-giving presence. This tree will mark the return of the cosmic risen Christ to the earth where He once walked after His resurrection from the dead. 

At this time all powers and people will acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. Here under these trees, all rebellion will cease, all evil will be destroyed and death will be no more. This is the point to which all of history is moving, when Christ will reconcile all things to Himself and restore a suffering world to its original blissful state. Then all things will be made new and all tears wiped away.

I know that my existence is joined to Christ and all Christians in what God, Christ and The Holy Spirit are doing somewhere between that first Easter and Christ's coming back to earth. So I think of these three trees and The Trinity of God The Father/ Mother, God The Son And God The Holy Spirit. 

"All theory, dear friend, is grey, 
but the golden tree of life springs ever green."
                                                           Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

There is an interesting article here on the symbolism of heaven and earth and the cross and the tree.
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 "This Word played life against death and death against life in tournament on the wood of the most holy cross so that by his death he destroyed our death, and to give us life he spent his own bodily life. 

With love, then, he has so drawn us and with the kindness so conquered our malice that every heart should be won over. For a person can shown no greater love (he said so himself) than to give his or her life for a friend. And if he praises the love that gives one’s life for a friend, what shall we say of the consummate blazing love that gave his life for his enemy? For through sin we had become God’s enemies. Oh, gentle loving Word, with love you recovered your little sheep, and with love gave them life. You brought them back to the fold by restoring to them the grace they had lost.” – Catherine of Siena.

Sometimes it's hard to write isn't it ?
There are days when it all seems Blah Blah !!
by Ilonka Karasz


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The master said You must write what you see.
But what I see does not move me.
The master answered Change what you see.
Louise Glück, Vita Nova
In an interview with Bill Moyers, the double Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin, shared that the author Russell Banks once shared a story with him about a device he used when teaching, it was said that” Banks would often give his students a text, a short story by Chekhov or Conrad, and ask the students where does the language leave the surface?” to see which student “got it.”

I think Merwin's own poem below is a good and humorous way of getting out of stuckness ! 


First, forget what time it is for an hour.
Do it regularly every day.
Then forget what day of the week it is,
and do this regularly in company for a week.
Then forget what country you are in,
and practice doing it in company for a week,
and then do them together for a week
with as few breaks as possible.
Follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract.
It makes no difference.
You can change them around after a week.
Both will later help you to forget how to count.

Forget how to count,
starting with your own age,
starting with how to count backwards,
starting with even numbers,
with roman numerals,
starting with fractions,
with the old calendar,
going on to the alphabet,
forgetting it all until everything
is continuous and whole again.”

W.S. Merwin

So, here's a few more quotes from St Catherine of Siena to finish on
Can you see where the language leaves the surface ?

So we wait for Pentecost

Related article on Catherine of Siena

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