Almighty and everlasting Father, You give your children many blessings even though we are undeserving. In every trial and temptation grant us steadfast confidence in Your loving-kindness and mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
In 1347, on March 25, in the city of Siena, Italy, a woman named Lapa Piagenti gave birth, prematurely, to her 23rd and 24th children, twin daughters. One of the girls soon died but the other, Catherine, matured into a healthy, precocious little girl. Always religious and over her parents’ objection, Catherine became a sort of nun, but did not want to live in a convent. She wanted to be in the world. The world would never be the same. Catherine was a force to contend with. These were the days of the Plague. While powerful and wealthy people, including bishops and priests, ran at the first sign of plague, Catherine ran toward the plague victims, ministering to their needs. No one was beneath her care. She started a prison ministry, serving men about to be executed. Soon her acts of courage drew attention and she started to call for change. Her influence grew. The pope at the time was living in France. He was the bishop of Rome and Catherine thought the Bishop should come home. She told him so, rather forcefully. The old man, perhaps sensing his own impending encounter with his Maker, listened to this young woman and came home.
Catherine had a heart for the people her medieval world rejected, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor and she also had a powerful confidence. That confidence emboldened her to speak strong words to people in power to face down any foe. She believed Jesus went with her into every situation. She was sure that He loved her. You can read some of this in her own words. She authored over 400 letters including a real scorcher to the city fathers in Florence. If go looking for her letters, she is usually called Catherine of Siena.
We pray today for confidence amid trials and tribulations. That confidence, we note, is located in the steadfast love and mercy of Jesus toward us. Christ spoke the truth to us when he declared his love in our baptism and repeatedly in absolutions, sermons, and sacrament. That love also inspires in us a confidence as we address this world. We have more than a few trials and tribulations to contend with these days. There is one sure thing. God’s love for us is rock solid. With God at our back, we can face those trials and tribulations, all that the world can throw at us. It might kill us. Catherine died at the tender age of 33. But the world, sin, and death do not have the last say. God caught Catherine into his arms that day she died. His love is sure.