How Saint Catherine of Siena Leads You to God

The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena on April 29th. One of only four women Doctors of the Church, Catherine’s writings and life continues lead people to Christ.

Catherine of Siena

Catherine has been particularly important in my life. When my wife was pregnant with our youngest child  complications existed. Several times throughout the pregnancy we feared having a miscarriage. We prayed daily for the safety of our unborn child and asked for saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Gerard of Majella for help and intercession. Avila Catherine Geraldine was born in late 2018. She was healthy!

Since then my family continues to look to Catherine of Siena as a role model and guide to God. The Doctor of the Church provides mystical insight into the Gospel and demonstrates the depths of God’s love.

Fierce Defender of Truth

Few individuals have displayed such tenacity for the truth as Catherine did in her life. During the 14th century, the Catholic Church endured one of the most corrupt periods. Known as the Avignon papacy, the popes succumbed to worldly powers, specifically under the influence of the French monarchy. Catherine wrote frequently to Pope Gregory XI. An example of her boldness is shown in a Letter to Pope Gregory, “But, I hope, by the goodness of God that you will pay more heed to His honor and the safety of your own flock than to yourself, like a good shepherd, who ought to lay down his life for his sheep.”

Love is a Divine Furnace

Another key theme in Catherine’s writing is describing how God  love burns away sin.  God appears to be absent in our life. Suffering seems mysterious. That was the way I thought before reading the saint’s works. Her description of love as a divine furnace helped me better understand how God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him.

Fire of God's love

Reflecting on my past pains I realized how my prayer life actually bloomed. Having recovered from the contracting COVID19 a couple weeks ago, I rediscovered the importance of relying on God. At first I was angry for getting sick. I took all the precautions. Prayers started out as laments and ended in hope.

God was using my sickness to cauterize my sinful inclinations and renew my prayer life and trust in Him.

Spiritual Sister

According to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his General Audience on November 24, 2010, “Catherine (of Siena) is one of these and still today speaks to us and impels us to walk courageously toward holiness to be ever more fully disciples of the Lord.” Her intercession is powerful. I used to only think of saints as people too lofty to relate to. But reading the Sienese saint’s writings and her struggles I gained an intimate spiritual relationship with her—like a sister.

Her wit and spiritual knowledge helps me grow in holiness. Sanctity. That truly is the purpose of family. Catherine wrote,  “There is no sin nor wrong that gives man such a foretaste of Hell in this life as anger and impatience.” Wow! Those words sound like they were written specifically for me. Parenting tests your patience. Daily. Hourly. And sometimes nearly every minute.

Catherine of siena quote

Catherine reminds me to trust in God. Her holiness shows through in her books and letters. I highly recommend looking to this Doctor of the Church for spiritual guidance.


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How You Can be the Hands and Feet of Jesus during the Pandemic

Prayer

Pray for everyone affected by the coronavirus. Is the toilet paper shortage frustrating? Definitely, but remember we are all on the same side—Team Humanity.

We should be helping the most vulnerable. Why? Because Jesus did that. He dined with sinners and tax collectors. Allowed the prostitute to wash his feet with her hair and perfume—even though the elite ridiculed him for that decision.

Christ let the children come to listen to him. He wasn’t afraid to help the leper. When he was tempted by the Devil, despite being hungry and thirsty, Jesus never gave into worldly power.

Social distancing makes it tougher to help our neighbor in the same tangible way that Christ helped those around him. But that shouldn’t cause us to lead to inaction.

As a Catholic, I became an adopted son of God. The Holy Spirit swells within all baptized individuals. A creative force of Love, the Holy Spirit will never cease to inspire us and grant us the gifts of courage, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, and wonder. The key is we have to be ready to ask for the gifts. Humble ourselves.

Here are a few ways to be the hands and feet of Christ during this pandemic crisis:

Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus

1️⃣ Hand write letters you your family members, especially those lonely, neighbors, or even contact a nursing home to get names of senior citizens to write to.

2️⃣ Don’t take more than you need

There is a difference between gathering for reasonable concern over a quarantine versus hoarding goods in panicked response or because you want to turn a profit.

3️⃣ Exercise charity online

Social distancing doesn’t mean people will stop being social. Digital interactions will increase. While we have been used to social media for years, the newsfeed has become saturated with negativity about the virus.

Fighting fire with fire only leads to more flames. The same is true with negativity. Match pessimism with a greater dosage of positivity. Be kind and empathetic online to others. Share a funny anecdote about how you are dealing with this crisis.

Jesus forgave Peter for being a jerk who denied him three times. You can certainly forgive those people who acted uncharitably regarding this issue or those individuals whose hysteria led to hoarding.

St. Paul was right in writing in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no better time as the present to start. Learn from the suffering caused by this pandemic to love others!

Related Links

The Coronavirus and the Crowning of Mary

Profiting From The Panic Of The Coronavirus

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Containing Joy—Rainbow Baby After Miscarriage Maelstroms


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 29, 2018. My wife and I gave birth to our rainbow baby daughter late 2018.


rainbow baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life events such wedding your best friend, celebrating an anniversary, graduating school, overcoming major illnesses, and learning to overcome addictions normally lead a person to joy.

Usually such cathartic experiences bring incredible joy—joy that cannot be contained! However, I am currently struggling to bring myself to seize the joy of the anticipate birth of my fourth child. Let me provide a little background to clarify my hesitancy.

Past Losses Make Current Joy Tough

Dating back to late 2017 and beginning of 2018, my wife and I lost two children due to miscarriage. Because of the previous loss, and the insane amount of pain associated with it, I conditioned my heart, mind, and soul to be cautious. In fact, I guarded my expectations to prevent possible pain of future loss. As a result, I am neutral, stoic, non-responsive to the current joy in my life!

burying a child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sifting through writings, thoughts, and quotes about miscarriage I came across profound wisdom from the great C.S. Lewis,

If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing that she may still hope to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.

Okay to Feel Joy Again

While I am not a mother, the Christian apologist’s words still pertain to me and my fatherhood [really any father who suffered the misfortune of having a child not survive pregnancy. A lot of my writings over the course of the year relate to my suffering, pain, distress, worry, and ultimate purgative experiences with miscarriage. Along with the pain and memory of hope dashed, I struggled mightily with letting my guard down to feel joy, to reacquaint myself with happiness of a birth announcement, and to re-orient myself toward hope.

According to Bishop Robert Barron in his book Catholicism, “We say something is beautiful—a face, a painting, a golf swing—when it hangs together as one (it has wholeness), when all of its parts work together in consonance (it has harmony), and when it shines forth as an archetype of what such a thing should be (it has radiance).” A family missing a member(s) cannot reflect the truth and power of the Holy Trinity. I sense that same is true for my family now.

God is in control

Always a Plan

Gazing at my three children playing at the park and helping each other go up the various climbing apparatuses or going down the slides, I imagined a fourth playing. Difficult to describe this scene it occurred more in the inner recesses of my heart that actually a physical vision or daydream.   During my wife and I’s engagement we talked about being open to life, raising a larger family, and we both seemed to desire [at least open to the desire] for at least four children. We cannot describe this desire in mere words. I just believe God’s Providential plan is at work in my life.

I pray for continued support, strength, and opportunities to unleash the joy of the Gospel during our family’s time of anticipation and cautious yearning for a safe birth and delivery of our child!

 

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3 Husband Hacks to Up Your Marriage Game in 2019!

💡Husband Hack #7 💡—💙Leave an unexpected note for your wife to cheer her up during a stressful week.

Example: I left a post-it note 📝 on the bedside dresser on my spouse’s phone. Included with the note was a small piece of chocolate 🍫.

🔷I have learned that showing simple and spontaneous gestures of love toward my wife go a long way.

🔷You don’t need to over complicate things when it comes to surprising your spouse. The key is following through on those random acts of kindness.

💡Husband Hack 19💡—💙Use your natural skills to show love towards your spouse. Do something creative and unique for them.

Example: I am a storyteller and writer. My wife is an avid reader—she loves fiction books and especially Harry Potter.

🔷 I started telling a whimsical take on the marker board in our kitchen. Real simple. A paragraph or two at a time. This unique gift is helpful in making the best of us working different schedules.

💡Husband Hack #58 💡—💙If your wife tells you not to play video games because it is the kids bedtime (she is out doing errands or having a girls’ night), keep in mind two things:

1️⃣ Listen to your wife. Happy wife= happy life! 😉

2️⃣ Be creative—you can still get the kids ready for bed while having fun!  See example below 👇

Wife: Matt, remember the kids need to be in bed by 8:00 pm. You can’t play Mario Kart with them now.

Me: Okay! Got it. I won’t “play” video games. [I need kids their bedtime snack, brush their teeth, play a YouTube video of the Dr. Mario Championship match on the the background with subtitles and low volume to prevent kids from being distracted.]

Results:

✅ Kids in bedtime on time. 🙌

✅ Brushed up on my SNES Dr. Mario 💊skills and learned new strategies!

💊 I enjoy Dr.Mario because I am a puzzle nerd and I love Mario Kart because it is an easy game to play with my 8 year old!

Reflection Questions

🔷How do you surprise your spouse?

🔷 How have you utilized your natural talents or skills to strengthen your relationship with your spouse?

🔷 What kinds of games do you like playing with your kids (or your friends if you don’t have kids)? What makes them special?

🔷 Let me know in the comments!

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How is Your Marriage Game

An excerpt from the upcoming book, “God Moments” by Orlando Javien Jr.


For those who have ever golfed or know someone who golfs you may have been asked a time or two this question, “How is your golf game?” This is just simple way of asking how have been playing.

Today I’d like to ask you, “How is your marriage game?”

Marriage, like golf, is very humbling. I don’t play golf all that often, but when I do, it’s always the same. At some point in the round, I hit that ball so well it makes me say “Wow! I did that?” Then I do it again and start thinking, PGA, here I come.

Once God hears me thinking that I can do it on my own, he brings me back to reality. The next shot I top the ball, then I totally miss the ball, and to make things worse, I then lose the ball. “PGA, I think not!”

Marriage is the same way. I read a few books (The Five Love Languages, Every Man’s Marriage and the instruction book of marriage: Ephesians 5:21) and started to see my marriage improving. Then complacency set in. I stopped showering my wife with love; I thought all the things I did yesterday or last week would carry over to today. Then I was reminded that it doesn’t.

I don’t get it! What do I need to do to love my wife? I prayed and asked God, “Lord, please show me how to love my wife.” Sure enough, he answered quickly. I was led to the book Fireproof: Never Leave Your Partner Behind. I read the book and found the answer I was looking for.

Love Unceasingly

The story was about a firefighter that was so engrossed saving lives that he neglected his marriage. Caught up with an addiction to pornography and only living for himself he forgot about the special gift that he had in a wife.

In a nutshell, the book taught me that whatever you put the time, energy, and money into will become more important to you.

I’m not good at golf because I don’t practice. If I don’t continuously practice loving my wife, I won’t be good at loving her either. So practice loving your wife. Get books on how to better love them and don’t get complacent.

“Remember, you wooed her to get her; you better woo her to keep her.”

How is your marriage game?

 

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Living Out Your Purpose—Transform the World!

Catherine of Siena Set World on Fire

 

 

 

 

 

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on 🔥.” —St. Catherine of Siena

🔥 You are valuable. Unique. One of a kind. Think about the gifts you have. How can you help others? Those less fortunate than you. Less privileged.

🔥Life is 100% about love. Natural fire destroys. The supernatural fire of divine love transforms.

🔥Catherine did not have the pedigree of a princess or the formal education of a professor.

🔥Her impact on the world and 14th century was because she embraced her role— persistence toward truth and justice. She called out the greed of popes! To me that is the definition of heroism.

🔥St. Catherine has become a major influence in my life. Her writings inspire and give me hope. I consider her my mentor, a best friend, and spiritual sister.

🔥Embrace Love humbly and truthfully. The result will be an amazing transformation and impact. Love now!

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Why Freedom is Still a Prerequisite for Love in 2019

Freedom and Love

By: William Hemsworth

Within the course of salvation history there have been many questions about the work of Christ and the role of the human freedom, or free will.  There has been no shortage of theories. Church history shows that there have been many heresies from those trying find a synthesis between the two.

There seem to be two extremes when it comes to this issue—those who think that Christ will save us no matter what we do after coming to faith and those who think that one must continually work to attain salvation (Pelagianism).

The Catholic Definition of Freedom

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote two encyclicals titled Redemptor Hominis and Redemptoris Missio that deal with this important issue.

The Pope reaffirms the teaching of Christ in John 14:6 that He is the way and the truth.  He echoes the words of God is creation where he saw the things that he created as good.  The work of Christ is expressed as an act of love, and a love that the Father had from the beginning with creation.  It was through this act of love that man was restored and made whole.  Regarding this Pope John Paul II writes, “He and he alone also satisfied that fatherhood of God and that love which man in a way rejected by breaking the first Covenant and the later covenants that God again and again offered to man” (Redemptor Hominis Para 9).  Man is unable to enter into relationship with God unless it is through Christ (Redemptoris Missio Para 5).  What Christ did for man was the greatest act of love that ever done.  It is one that our feeble minds can barely start to fathom freedom!

John Paul II

The Pope firmly establishes that it is Christ who is the only way and is the source of our salvation.  The work of Christ on the cross was an act of love that echoes back to the point of creation, and he reconciles man to himself.  How about human freedom?  The freedom of man is a source of controversy for many.

Our lives as lack meaning if we do not have love.  We were made to love and live in communion with each other.  Through His life, death, and resurrection Christ has shown us what love is.  This love changes the lives of the apostles, and they passed that on and it changed the world.

Freedom to Choose Life

God offers this newness of life to every man, but man has the freedom to reject it.  In this regard Pope John Paul II writes, “Faith demands a free adherence on the part of man, but at the same time faith must also be offered to him” (Redemptoris Missio Para 8).  Freedom is not the ultimate end as the world teaches it to be.  Freedom is the choice to do as we ought to.

Freedom and love

Freedom is only a gift if one knows how to use it for everything that is true good (Redemptor Hominis Para 21).  When we encounter Him that is truth we can either accept of deny what he says.  He says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NRSV).

Once we reach this realization Christ calls us to a higher standard of living.  We are bound to regulate of lives with this truth, and we have the freedom to do so or not (Redemptoris Missio Para 8).

Human freedom is a part of the redemption.  By his work on the cross, Christ redeems us by an act of love. We are called to love others and do what Christ commands of us.

Works Cited

John Paul II. Redemptor Hominis 1979 Web. Accessed September 9, 2019.

John Paul II. Redemptoris Missio 1990.  Web.  Accessed September 9, 2019.


About our guest blogger:

William is a convert to the Catholic faith.  Before entering the church he was ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary.  William lives with his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults.  Check out his website/blog at williamhemsworth.com for more great and informative Catholic content!

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