The celebration of the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena is soon to come. Today as in her time, this sister of ours, places herself with her human, civil and Christian virtues, at our service through her strong and sweet personality, through her exemplary and holiness of life.
In this difficult moment we are living, it may be appropriate to remember that St. Catherine was also a great benefactor of the society. During her time in Siena, there was a terrible plague and with her ardent charity worked passionately to comfort the sick. Her intense life of prayer was combined with care for the poor and the sick. She was always at the side of those who suffered from the plague, comforting them and preparing them for death. The historians tell us that even in many cases she buried them with her own hands.
Of course, today, we cannot do what she did. This work is being carried out by doctors, nurses, other kinds of health and civil protection personnel…, giving their own lives in generous and heroic service on more than one occasion. Many priests and religious have also lost their lives as they give spiritual, human and psychological help, both to the sick during their final moments, and to their families.
Nowadays all of us are involved in the fight against Covid-19, the first and major global pandemic of our era, which is changing the life of millions of people. We have found ourselves in an unexpected way faced with this coronavirus and for which the only solution offered to us at the moment is to wash our hands and isolate ourselves in our homes. It is true that as citizens we must comply with the directives of the authorities, but beyond this, we as Christians and as religious must contribute our evangelical witness through our serenity, hope and solidarity in the midst of this chaos before us, putting our trust in God through our intense prayer not only for the victims, but also for their families.
I would like to conclude this letter by citing Pope Francis’ message on Easter morning for the world afflicted by the pandemic: The proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ transmits to humanity «a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart — for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God. The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One, not someone else. In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope.” (L’Osservatore Romano, April 14, 2020)
Wishing you a Blessed and Happy Feast day of Saint Catherine of Siena. May her courage in facing the challenges of her time “contaminate” us.
With my sisterly embrace and prayer,
Sr. Mª Asunción González, O.P.