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May 4, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Disciples of Jesus today can learn much from the experience and wisdom of a medieval Dominican mystic and saint whose focus was on love of God and love of neighbor.
Sister Patricia Benson, OP, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee, gave a presentation to Sisters and Associate via live stream, “The Challenge of St. Catherine of Siena Today” on St. Catherine’s Feast Day, April 29, 2020.
Sister Patricia began her presentation by noting that St. Catherine lived through the Black Death plague, which historians believe killed about a third of the population of Europe. St. Catherine “was supported by her faith,” Sister Patricia said. “Our living God will support us, too, as we live day by day, and I hope that this short presentation will support us as we each take our own next steps in response to God’s invitation."
“What is unique is [St. Catherine’s] focus on one’s motivation for loving,” Sister Patricia said. “The very same act can be motivated in different ways. The challenge to us is to accept God’s invitation to purify our motivation of self-centeredness and to really love more unconditionally, as Jesus did.”
Sister Patricia also noted St. Catherine’s focus on self-knowledge, which helps us to determine our motivation and provides the humility to see ourselves as we are in relation to God and others.
Motivation is the key factor in the various spiritual stages that people of faith tend to go through, Sister Patricia said. These stages range from the Mercenary Stage – motivated by “fear of damnation” and by a greater desire to please others rather than God – through the last two stages.
The Filial Stage is “marked by peace and a deep realization that we are the dearest daughter or son of God,” as well as the desire to do God’s work, Sister Patricia explained. The final stage, Union with God, is one of perfect love, in which “the soul is on fire or ablaze with love,” Sister Patricia said. “One is fused with the blood of Christ and runs to the table of the cross. One is willing to suffer for love of the other.”
The teaching of St. Catherine “truly challenges us to grow in self-knowledge and to develop love,” Sister Patricia said. “As God sustained her to accomplish great things, so does that same love support each of us as we endeavor to carry out the mission of Jesus in Church and society in these difficult days.”
April 14, 2020, Alexandria, Virginia – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, speaks in an interview of the growing needs of people in the United States in light of the COVID-19 virus and the resulting economic downturn. She notes the needs of people throughout the country for food, medical care, and counseling for people who are afflicted or anxious because of the pandemic.
In addition, Sister Donna speaks of the need for personal protective equipment for CCUSA employees from its more than 160 agencies nationwide who are on the front lines, helping people in need at this time.
“I would humbly ask that you pray for our workers on the streets who are tending to millions of suffering people at great personal risk,” Sister Donna said in the interview with John Gehring of Commonweal Magazine.