30/4: Feast of St Catherine of Siena… 

Comment:

In the traditional calendar, the Feast of St Catherine of Siena falls on 30 April.  This great saint did not hesitate to rebuke popes for their negligence, famously calling on one to resign if he would not or could not do his duty to root out “bad priests who poison and rot that garden” (the Church).

Today, more than ever, we need to seek the intercession of St Catherine of Siena, for the contemporary popes, especially our current Pope, Francis. 

Share your favourite prayers, novenas, quotes, information about St Catherine,  to help us to learn more about this great saint and Doctor of the Church.  What does she teach us, that we can use for the betterment of the Church at this time of crisis? 

St Catherine of Siena, pray for us!   

No! To Open Borders-St Thomas Aquinas

stthomasaquinasuniversaldoctorEvery nation has the right to distinguish, by country of origin, who can migrate to it and apply appropriate immigration policies, according to the great medieval scholar and saint Thomas Aquinas.

In a surprisingly contemporary passage of his Summa Theologica, Aquinas noted that the Jewish people of Old Testament times did not admit visitors from all nations equally, since those peoples closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those who were not as close.

Some antagonistic peoples were not admitted at all into Israel due to their hostility toward the Jewish people.

The Law “prescribed in respect of certain nations that had close relations with the Jews,” the scholar noted, such as the Egyptians and the Idumeans, “that they should be admitted to the fellowship of the people after the third generation.”

Citizens of other nations “with whom their relations had been hostile,” such as the Ammonites and Moabites, “were never to be admitted to citizenship.”

“The Amalekites, who were yet more hostile to them, and had no fellowship of kindred with them, were to be held as foes in perpetuity,” Aquinas observed.

For the scholar, it seemed sensible to treat nations differently, depending on the affinity of their cultures with that of Israel as well as their historic relations with the Jewish people.

In his remarkably nuanced commentary, Aquinas also distinguished among three types of immigrants in the Israel of the Old Testament.

First were “the foreigners who passed through their land as travelers,” much like modern day visitors with a travel visa.

Second were those who “came to dwell in their land as newcomers,” seemingly corresponding to resident aliens, perhaps with a green card, living in the land but not with the full benefits of citizenship.

A third case involved those foreigners who wished “to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship.” Even here, dealing with those who wished to integrate fully into the life and worship of Israel required a certain order, Aquinas observed. “For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations.”

“The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst,” Aquinas logically reasoned, “many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.”

In other words, Aquinas taught that total integration of immigrants into the life, language, customs and culture (including worship, in this case) was necessary for full citizenship.

It requires time for someone to learn which issues affect the nation and to make them their own, Aquinas argued. Those who know the history of their nation and have lived in it, working for the common good, are best suited to participate in decision-making about its future.

It would be dangerous and unjust to place the future of a nation in the hands of recent arrivals who do not fully understand the needs and concerns of their adoptive home.

When facing contemporary problems, modern policy makers can often benefit from the wisdom of the great saints and scholars who have dealt with versions of the same issues in ages past.

Aquinas’ reflections reveal that similar problems have existed for centuries—indeed, millennia—and that distinguishing prudently between nations and cultures doesn’t automatically imply prejudice or unfair discrimination.

Sometimes, it’s just the right thing to do.  Source

Comment: 

It seems that St Thomas Aquinas has left himself open to being labelled “racist”.  

Certainly, one of the most common criticisms of those of us who voted to leave the EU, is that we have encouraged “racism”.  What do you think?

15 October: Feast of St Teresa of Avila – What Can We Learn From Her Life?

StTeresaGodAloneSufficesIn the Autobiography which she completed towards the end of her life, Saint Teresa of Avila gives us a description of her parents, along with a disparaging estimate of her own character. “The possession of virtuous parents who lived in the fear of God, together with those favors which I received from his Divine Majesty, might have made me good, if I had not been so very wicked.” A heavy consciousness of sin was prevalent in sixteenth-century Spain, and we can readily discount this avowal of guilt. What we are told of Teresa’s early life does not sound in the least wicked, but it is plain that she was an unusually active, imaginative, and sensitive child. Her parents, Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda and Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, his second wife, were people of position in Avila, a city of Old Castile, where Teresa was born on March 28, 1515. There were nine children of this marriage, of whom Teresa was the third, and three children of her father’s first marriage.   

Piously reared as she was, Teresa became completely fascinated by stories of the saints and martyrs, as was her brother Roderigo, who was near her own age and her partner in youthful adventures. Once, when Teresa was seven, they made a plan to run away to Africa, where they might be beheaded by the infidel Moors and so achieve martyrdom. They set out secretly, expecting to beg their way like the poor friars, but had gone only a short distance from home when they were met by an uncle and brought back to their anxious mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. She and her brother now thought they would like to become hermits, and tried to build themselves little cells from stones they found in the garden. Thus we see that religious thoughts and influences dominated the mind of the future saint in childhood.

Teresa was only fourteen when her mother died, and she later wrote of her sorrow in these words: “As soon as I began to understand how great a loss I had sustained by losing her, I was very much afflicted; and so I went before an image of our Blessed Lady and besought her with many tears that she would vouchsafe to be my mother.” Visits from a girl cousin were most welcome at this time, but they had the effect of stimulating her interest in superficial things. Reading tales of chivalry was one of their diversions, and Teresa even tried to write romantic stories. “These tales,” she says in her Autobiography, “did not fail to cool my good desires, and were the cause of my falling insensibly into other defects. I was so enchanted that I could not be happy without some new tale in my hands. I began to imitate the fashions, to enjoy being well dressed, to take great care of my hands, to use perfumes, and wear all the vain ornaments which my position in the world allowed.” Noting this sudden change in his daughter’s personality, Teresa’s father decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila, where other young women of her class were being educated. This action made Teresa aware that her danger had been greater than she knew. After a year and a half in the convent she fell ill with what seems to have been a malignant type of malaria, and Don Alfonso brought her home. After recovering, she went to stay with her eldest sister, who had married and gone to live in the country. Then she visited an uncle, Peter Sanchez de Capeda, a very sober and pious man. At home once more, and fearing that an uncongenial marriage would be forced upon her, she began to deliberate whether or not she should undertake the religious life. Reading the <Letters of St. Jerome>,[1] helped her to reach a decision. St. Jerome’s realism and ardor were akin to her own Castilian spirit, with its mixture of the practical and the idealistic. She now announced to her father her desire to become a nun, but he withheld consent, saying that after his death she might do as she pleased.   Click here to read more

Comment

It’s easy to write off St Teresa of Avila as a “role model” for religious only, and contemplative religious at that. Yet, the story of her life contains lessons on all sorts of levels, applicable to all of us, priests, religious and lay people. What, then, does she teach us? The importance of prayer, certainly, but what, precisely do we learn from her about prayer, and what other lessons can we draw from her life?