Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Catherine of Genoa

Happy (not actually feast) of St. Catherine of Genoa!

Ok, so I'm not exactly sure why St. Catherine came up as the saint of the day, but she did.  I took out typing and thinking, and really enjoying her story....but then came the realization that today is not her feast day! No, St. Catherine of Genoa is celebrated September 15, only 6 months from now.  Ug!  But, I really like her story, and it speaks to me today.  I guess God put her there for a reason, so if you want today's saint, sorry, today you get St. Catherine of Genoa.

Catherine was born to a noble family in 1447, the youngest of 5 children. She wanted a religious life and at 13 tried to join a convent, but was turned down due to her age.  She then decided to marry Julian Adorno at the age of 16.  Julian was extravagant in his life, selfish and unfaithful.  For a time, Catherine numbed her pain by extravagance as well, but upon going to confession has a renewed sense of her sins and God's love for her.  This renewed love of God allowed her to reform her life and live as a good example to her husband, who eventually reformed his life as well, but only after ruining them financially.  At this point Catherine and Julian decided to move into a large hospital in Genoa to give themselves to helping others.  Catherine wrote Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body and Treatise on Purgatory.  In her writing on purgatory, she writes that purgatory begins on earth for souls that open themselves up to God and that heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God began on earth.

Catherine speaks to me on so many levels.  My husband IS NOT like Julian, so don't get me wrong on that point.  But we married young I think along with all of the blessings you receive when you do this, you also grow in many areas as you get older and live more of your life.  Sometimes this growing and adjusting causes growing pains, so to speak, and you have to find your way through those growing pains.  I love that Catherine didn't try to change her husband.  From what we are told, she didn't one day decide to be more religious, come home and say, "repent or else."  No she adjusted what she did.  Lived as a good example and prayed.  I think we can learn a lot from this.  Today, we are a society of instant change.  Fix or else.  Separations and divorce are far to common in our society.  Catherine would have every reason in today's society to leave her husband~he cheated and ruined them financially.  What judge wouldn't grant her a divorce!  I don't know if she would have wanted one, or if this option was available, but she turned her heart to God and allowed Him to fix her marriage and their lives.  Maybe we should also turn to confession more.  Maybe we should turn to God more.  And maybe we should actually LISTEN to what He has to say.

I also am very excited to read Catherine's writings on purgatory.  I must admit, this is one of those areas that stumps the convert in me.  I understand it to a point, but the Methodist in me still comes out when thinking about purgatory and the cleansing of my soul after death in preparation for heaven.  While on this topic, indulgences are also a sticking point for me.  I like the idea of somehow buying time off the not-so-pleasant purgatory experience, but I also question it.

Hug your spouse today, better yet, do something special for them.  I will pray for my husband.  I will thank him for all he does and I will try to find a way to make his day truly special, even if it is a small way.

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