Spiritual Surgeons—Saint Catherine of Siena


Editor’s note: Article originally published on March 28, 2019.


Healthcare has become a hot-button issue over the past several years. Is it a privilege or a natural human right? Should you vaccinate your children or allow their body’s immune system to fend off diseases naturally? Is surgery better or experimental non-evasive treatment better? The list of questions goes on and on. Because I am not a doctor, I will not be discussing healing of the body in this article. Instead, as a Catholic and student of theology, I will examine the best practices to combat spiritual sickness—sin!

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1501,

Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more nature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.

Icon of Christ the Divine Physician

The Healing Mission of Christ and the Church

A common title given to Jesus is Divine Physician because he heals humanity from sin and death. While our ultimate trust focus on God as healer of souls, He has employed various men and women over the centuries to stand as great witnesses to the truth. Such saints are called Doctors of the Church.

Not to be confused with medical doctors, Doctors of the Church are, “certain saints whose writing or preaching is outstanding for guiding the faithful in all periods of the Church’s history. To view a complete and detailed list of all saints with this honor please refer to Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s Doctors of the Catholic ChurchComplete List.

Working for God

Saints Work for the Divine Doctor

Because of the incredible need for healing and hope in this fallen world, today will mark the beginning of a weekly blog series Spiritual SurgeonsCo-workers with the Divine Physician. Every week we will focus on a different saint. We will examine key themes and advice from their writings to help us root out sin and grow in our relationship with God and neighbor. St. Catherine of Siena will be the focus of this inaugural Spiritual Surgeons installment.

Corruption of Sin

Catherine lived in the 14th century during a period of grave clergy corruption. She famously wrote to Pope Gregory XI urging him to return to Rome and clean up the abuses going on within the Catholic Church hierarchy. At that time, the papacy succumbed to the powers of the world (France) and the pope lived in Avignon to appease the French rulers. Catherine petitioned to the pope by declaring, “But, I hope, by the goodness of God that you will pay more heed to His honour and the safety of your own flock than to yourself, like a good shepherd, who ought to lay down his life for his sheep” (Letter to Gregory XI). Her brave and consistent witness to the Truth even against those in power brings us hope.

Cleansing fire

Furnace of Divine Love  

Along with Catherine’s teaching on the corruption of sin, she teaches sin decays the soul. Similar to how disease infects the body, so too, sin infects the soul. Physical surgery involves pain. Both in the actual procedure and the healing process afterwards. Spiritual surgery necessarily contains suffering as well. St. Catherine’s remedy includes the fire of God’s love.

Catherine warns against non-evasive spiritual treatments in fighting sin. According the Sienese saint in a letter to Pope Gregory XI, “If a wound when necessary is not cauterized or cut out with steel, but simply covered with ointment, not only does it fail to heal, but it infects everything, and many a time death follows from it.”  Her advice matches what Jesus taught on the Sermon of the Mount. In Matthew 5:29-30,

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.s It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go to Gehenna.

Purification by Flames

Fire acts as a destructive or purifying agent. Catherine speaks of God’s love as a fire cleansing the soul from sin. The word fire occurs 94 times in The Dialogues of St. Catherine. Phrases such as fire of Divine love and fire of Divine charity occur 5 and 3 times respectively. Although the first man muddied himself with the disobedience of sin, Catherine reminds us that God became man to show us the path of salvation. She wrote in her Dialogues, 

So that each man has in his own person that very same key which the Word had, and if a man does not unlock in the light of faith, and with the hand of love the gate of heaven by means of this key, he never will enter there, in spite of its having been opened by the Word; for though I created you without yourselves, I will not save you without yourselves…My only-begotten Son, the Word, come and taken this key of obedience in His hands and purified it in the fire of divine love, having drawn it out of the mud, and cleansed it with His blood, and straightened it with the knife of justice, and hammered your iniquities into shape on the anvil of His own body.

Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena lived a profoundly holy life of faith. Her ability to correct clerical abuses with charity was second to none. According to St. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Three Co-patronesses of Europe, “Catherine addressed churchmen of every rank, demanding of them the most exacting integrity in their personal lives and their pastoral ministry. The uninhibited, powerful and incisive tone in which she admonished priests, Bishops and Cardinals is quite striking.” Learning from this great Doctor of the Church not only deepened my knowledge about God but strengthened my personal relationship with God.

Related Links

Catherine of Siena—Pious Paladin for Today’s Current Clergy Corruption

Doctors of the Church— Definition and Complete List

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 38

Hope you had a blessed Second Sunday in the Easter Season and Divine Mercy Sunday! 🙏 🌿 ❤️

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

Saint Mark pray for us!
Jesus I trust in You. ❤️❤️❤️
Not necessarily a meme but news I wanted to share with you all. 🙂🙂🙂
Font matters. 😆🤣😊
Absolutely love this diagram.
This is accurate. 🕊️🔥🙏
I feel convicted. **Proceeds to share Wordle boxes**
🤣😆🙂
Truth bomb 💥 by Chesterton.
Yes!!!
I post this as a reminder to myself. 🧼 🧺
Love the Easter Season!!!
Proclaim it loud and joyfully.

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons Why I Am Thankful for Divine Mercy Sunday!

divine mercy.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

On April 30th, 2000 Pope John Paul II officially designated the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. The designation was in celebration of the canonization of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska– the Polish nun who received the devotion from Jesus!  My wife’s Confirmation saint is St. Maria Faustina and in recent years of our marriage I have been more familiar with her teaching by reading the Polish nun’s diary. While I could write for pages about the joys of  this feast, I will limit myself to three reasons for why I am grateful for Divine Mercy Sunday.

Judgment + _____________= Love

I bet you can’t guess blank to fill out the equation. Let me give you a clue: the word is in the title of today’s post.  You guessed it– mercy! The Church’s renewed focus on Divine Mercy to start the new millennium gave me a renewed focus as well. I grew up usually thinking about the power of God and His ability to judge us. For whatever reason I viewed God more as a judge and less like a merciful Father. Divine Mercy Sunday is a gift that helps remind me that God, though a judge, is a merciful judge and will give me many chances to correct the mistakes I make.

Sacrament of Confession: An Encounter with Mercy

Sacrament of Confession

 

 

 

 

 

The reading associated with this Sunday’s Mercy Sunday comes from John 20:19-31. Jesus’ first words to his apostles are, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). That is one of the effects of divine mercy. In a world that is constantly pulling me each direction, it is nice to listen Christ’s words.

A second major point from today’s gospel reading is the institution of the sacrament of Confession. Jesus confers this sacrament of healing to his apostles when he say, “”Peace be with you [a second time]. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained'” (John 20:21-23).  Time and time again Jesus reminds us of God’s mercy. In the 20th century, Jesus gave St. Faustina this same message. She states in her diary,

“’Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. All the works of My hands are crowned with mercy.’” (No. 301)

My Marriage is a Visible Sign of God’s Mercy

Along with the fruit of the sacrament of Confession, Divine Mercy Sunday infuses life into my marriage. As I stated before, my wife’s Confirmation saint is St. Faustina. It was through the graces received through praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy that quelled any doubt in her mind of joining the Catholic Church. Additionally, I am thankful for Divine Mercy Sunday because this feast day is a great reminder of the amazing mercy my wife shows to me on a daily basis! When I get short or angry at a home situation, my wife is always willing to bestow mercy by the end of the day. I would like to think that I too am making progress– due in large part to St. Faustina and my wife’s intercession– but I have great strides to go still.

If you have never heard of St. Maria Faustina, I urge you to check out her diary from a local library, a friend, or your parish. For those pinched for time, I recommend simply printing off a small list of quotes from her about Divine Mercy and read them a few minutes a day during this Easter Season. I close with Jesus’ words [revealed to St. Faustina], “The prayer of a humble and loving soul disarms the anger of My Father and draws down an ocean of blessings” (Diary of Maria Faustina No. 320). Thank God for the gift of Divine Mercy Sunday!

Call to Action— Learn the Chaplet of Divine Mercy!

Below is a simple diagram of how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

How to Pray Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Image credit: TheCatholicKid.com

Related Links

Ten Ways To Live Out the Doctrine of Divine Mercy

3 Ways St. Maria Faustina Provided Buoyancy in the Overwhelming Ocean of Life

Thank you for sharing!

Will Our Resurrected Bodies Grant Us Superpowers?

superman symbol

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superheroes are a huge part the American culture. In recent years, blockbusters like The Avengers franchise and Superman v. Batman along with television shows such as The Flash headline our entertainment. I am a huge fan of the Flash! I love his panoply of abilities: super speed, phasing, and time travel. However, at the end of the day, these characters are still human–just with amplified powers. Each Easter season I ponder the mystery of the Resurrected body of Jesus. Nearly every Sunday during Easter, the Gospel reading talks about the Apostles’ encounter with the Resurrected Lord!

Please do not misinterpret this post’s title. I am not trying to equate the resurrected body with a superhero from a comic book. What I want to reflect on today is what exactly can we deduce are the qualities of the resurrected body as evidenced in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (ex: Thomas Aquinas).

Powers of the Resurrected Body

resurrected christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are four properties of the Resurrected body as outlined by Saint Thomas Aquinas in Summa Contra Gentiles IV, 86 and supported by Scripture:


Impassibility (Incorruptible)

Saint Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:42, ” So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.” St. Thomas builds on this to mean that the resurrected body is not subject to deterioration from disease and death.

Subtlety (Phasing)

St. Thomas uses the term subtlety which refers to the ability to pass through material objects. While still being material, the resurrected body is able to pass or phrase through things. The prime example is Jesus passing through the closed and locked doors in John 20:19.

Agility (Super speed)

We get a hint at this ability through Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water [this is pure speculation– his movement was so quick he was able to move across water with ease]. One of the more famous post-resurrection appearance instances of agility is when Jesus leaves suddenly in the Emmaus episode in Luke 24:13-35.

Clarity (Brightness)

According to Thomas Aquinas, “The bodies of all men alike will be organized as befits the soul, so that the soul shall be an imperishable form giving imperishable being to the body, because to this effect the power of God will entirely subject the matter of the human body to the human soul” (Summa Contra Gentiles IV, 86). He also cites Matthew 13:43 which states the just will shine brilliantly in the kingdom of God. Because this quality of the resurrected body is the vaguest for me, I am not going to deviate from Thomas Aquinas’ words. I encourage you to read more about this quality in Summa Contra Gentiles.


There is so much more to ponder when it comes to the nature and qualities of the resurrected bodies of both Christ and the saints. However, I will want to wrap up this post before I get too speculative in my theology. To be honest this past year, I have become enamored with superheroes of all sorts—in particular DC Comics’ The Flash. I often joke with my wife how cool it would be to acquire the power of the Speed Force and don the mantel of the Scarlet Speedster!

the flash logo

Powered by God’s Graces

On a more serious note, I want to make sure that I am clear on this point, I am NOT equating the Resurrected Lord with the powers and abilities of superheroes such as Superman or The Flash—that would falter close to the heresy of Arianism. What I want to stress is that there is something mysterious and attractive about the resurrection of the body. Christians proclaim this belief each week in the Nicene Creed.

It is important to realize that we follow God’s commandments and promote charity to our neighbor. We follow God’s tenets not because of the promise of the resurrection. Instead, it is due to our love for God. It is neat to think about the powers and abilities of the resurrected body. Until then I will ask for God’s grace through prayer and the sacraments to increase my love of the Holy Trinity and people I encounter on a daily basis. True heroism occurs in acts of love and virtue! Be a hero today.

everyday heroes

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 37

Hope you had a blessed Easter Sunday! 🙏 🌿

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

A classic Easter morning meme.
😆🙂😊
Empty tomb real estate.
The first witnesses to the Resurrection. 😊😊😊
🍽️ 🥣 🧼 💦
Can you guess which one was most useless?
😊🙂😆
History via memes.
Last Supper humor from last week. 🙂
The local Catholic store is one of my weaknesses.
God can change things in a very short time.
🙏🙂❤️
He is pretty clear about the two Great Commandments.
Let’s end with a truth bomb by Mother Angelica. 🙂

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

Why Maundy Thursday is an Important Part of Holy Week


Editor’s note: Article originally published on April 1, 2021.


Holy Thursday is a celebration of The Last Supper Jesus had with his Apostles before his death on the Cross. Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain narratives of this event in their Gospels. The Gospel of John gives a different account where Jesus washes the feet of his Apostles. During the Mass on Holy Thursday the priest washes the feet of parishoners as a sign of service.

Holy Thursday

This liturgical feast is one of my favorite in the entire church calendar. The institution of the Eucharist takes place on Holy Thursday. I also find the washing of feet as a profound gesture of love and service. Finally, the conclusion of the Mass sets up the stage for Good Friday― Jesus’ Death on the Cross.

Source and Summit

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1324, “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Imagine climbing up a mountain and reaching the peak after many days (or weeks). Reaching Holy Thursday is sort of like getting to the top of a spiritual mountain after climbing and learning about the teachings of the Church.

Eucharist quote as source and summit

Those in RCIA might find a special appreciation for Holy Thursday as they have been slowly trekking through the teachings of the Church. The peak is the Eucharist― the gift of Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity.

Beginning of the Priesthood

Another important theme in the Holy Thursday Mass is service and the role of the priests. Traditionally, the Church refers to Holy Thursday as Maundy Thursday. This word maundy refers to a foot washing ceremony for the poor. To read the full text click here: The Washing of the Disciples Feet.

Jesus washing Peters feet

Peter refused Jesus’ act of service at first. Jesus told him that unless Peter allowed him to clean his feet he didn’t have a place with him. While it may seem strange to our 21st century mind, washing feet of another in ancient Jewish culture was a symbol of humility and love. Walking was the primary mode of travel and people didn’t have socks or shoes to protect their feet only sandals. Jesus lowered himself as he knelt with a bowl of water to wash his Apostles soles (more importantly this was a sign he intended to cleanse their souls too).

Maundy Thursday

Jesus anointed the Apostles with the sacred office of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Pope Francis reminds us of this truth when he declared in a Holy Thursday homily in 2019, “We [priests] anoint by distributing ourselves, distributing our vocation and our heart. When we anoint other, we ourselves are anointed anew by the faith and affection of our people”.

Eucharist is Food to Sustain Us

Besides modeling servant leadership to his Apostles, Jesus specifically directed the Twelve (or Eleven) to celebrate the breaking of the bread again and again. In Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus says,

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of thec]”>[c]”>cc]”>] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Early Church Tradition interpreted Jesus giving us his literal Body and Blood under the guise of bread and wine. Centuries later Saint Thomas Aquinas clarified the theology with his term transubstantiation. A close reading of John 6 will show Jesus had many opportunities to clarify whether or not he was speaking literally or figuratively. For more information on the Bread of Life Discourse read my article 3 Reasons Why Critically Reading John 6 Will Convert Protestants.

Eucharist meme

Jesus is the Bread of Life. He gives us strengthen and resolve to fend off the temptations of the Enemy. Saint Maria Faustina wrote, “Jesus, source of my life, sanctify me. O my strength, fortify me. My commander, fight for me.” Her words point the Eucharist sustains us.

Maundy Thursday and Unity in the Body of Christ

Reception of Holy Communion fosters greater unity in the Body of Christ too. Paragraph 1419 of the Catechism states, “Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.”

Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. The priest or deacon washing the feet of the laity recalls Christ’ act of service to Peter and the other Apostles. On this Maundy Thursday may be ponder the gift of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. May be in a special way also pray for the Holy Spirit to guide all the clergy to serve with Christ-like love.

Reflection Questions

How will you serve the Body of Christ this year?

What can you do to show gratitude for Jesus giving us the Eucharist?

How can you support your local priest(s) in their ministry?

Related Links

Everything You Need to Know about the Sacred Triduum

The significance of Holy Thursday

A Good Friday Reflection: Fixing Our Gaze on Golgotha

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 36

Hope you had a blessed Palm Sunday! 🙏😊

Let’s celebrate Holy Week with a King-sized 👑 Catholic Meme Monday.

Soon the holy images will be unveiled.
Palm Sunday humor!
Stay awake. Be ready! 😊😆🙂
More Palm Sunday funnies. 😆
An early Easter morning meme. 🙏🙂
The Word (Logos) always existed.
Let’s set the record straight! #realchurchhistory
Even more Palm 🌴 Sunday humor. 😊🙂
Pray for all the liturgical musicians in your parish this week. 🙏🙏🙏
😊😆🙂
WWJD
This is accurate. 💪 😆 ✌️ 🤝
#malchusear 🙂😆👂
Darn! 🙂😊

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!