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A Spiritual Almanac: Catherine of Sienna

Feb 15, 2021

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When Catherine of Sienna was a teenager, her mother told her she needed to look pretty to attract a husband. In protest, Catherine cut off all her hair.

A little while later, Catherine joined the Dominicans and entered a three-year period of prayer and solitude where she experienced visions of Jesus, Mary and the saints.

But Catherine is most famous for her inspirational letters, which eventually turned political. Her writings rail against the elite and talk about how people who play games of power only increase the amount of suffering in the world.

These days, she’s fondly remembered as one of the Christian tradition’s most respected theologians as well as a powerful political force in her time.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at a piece that describes Catherine’s initial encounter with God and shows how a spiritual experience can radically change your perspective. It’s a piece titled “Consumed in Grace.”

 

CONSUMED IN GRACE

By Catherine of Sienna

 

I first saw God when I was a child, six years of age.
The cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,
and the earth acted as a shy
girl, like me.

Divine light entered my heart from His love
that did never fully wane,

though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person’s
faith can at times flicker,

for what is the mind to do
with something that becomes the mind’s ruin:
a God that consumes us
in His grace.

I have seen what you want;
it is there,

a Beloved of infinite
tenderness.

More spiritual nuggets for today …

Today is Nirvana Day in the Buddhist tradition.

Nirvana Day or Parinirvana marks the death of the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, in 483 B.C. and his achievement of final nirvana.

In Buddhism, nirvana is the release from the cycle of death and rebirth. To achieve nirvana, we have to abandon our desires and our attachment to suffering — and that’s a lot easier said than done.

Buddhists celebrate Nirvana Day with meditation and the reading of passages from sacred texts. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on one’s own death and the impermanence of life.

Speaking of the end of life … on this day in 399 B.C., the philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death by the city of Athens.

Socrates was officially brought to trial for corrupting the city’s youth, but in truth he was condemned for his teachings and philosophies. During the trial, he reportedly spoke the now famous phrase, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

After the trial ended, they delayed the execution a month so they could celebrate a religious festival. Although Socrates’ friends tried to convince him to flee Athens, he refused to leave because he regularly taught about the virtues of civil obedience.

On the day of his execution, Socrates drank a cup of brewed hemlock and walked calmly among his friends, then eventually laid down and waited for the poison to reach his heart.

Finally, our words of wisdom for today come to us from the country music legend, Willie Nelson. Willie said:

“There is only one map to the journey of life and it lives within your heart.”

I hope your heart points you in the right direction on the road of life today.

And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac. 

For additional reading, see The Dialogue of St. Catherine Of Sienna: A Conversation With God On Living Your Spiritual Life To The Fullest. 

Thanks for listening. If you have a second, do me a favor hit share or like. I’d really appreciate it. Until next time, be kind, take good care and I’ll see you soon.

 

“Consumed in Grace” by Catherine of Sienna. Public domain.

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