St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day 2023 Eucharistic Liturgy Preaching by Sister Janice Brown, OP Friday, April 28, 2023 1 Cor 2:10b-16 John 7:14-18, 37-39 Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena’s Feast Day. This is an excellent day to celebrate St. Catherine, our Dominican Heritage, and the gift of the Spirit. In John’s gospel, we find Jesus and his followers in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles, a seven-day festival celebrating the harvest. The Jews were amazed at how well Jesus knew the scripture. Where did he get this knowledge? Jesus was the master teacher. He knew the Word of God because he became the Word of God. He spent hours in prayer, nurturing his relationship with the one he called Abba. Jesus knew himself; he knew from whom he came, and to whom he would return. At the end of today’s Gospel, the Spirit is mentioned, as the one to be sent to believers after he has been glorified. The one who could work through the believers to bring Good News, the living water. Jesus quotes Isaiah when he says: "Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water." This takes us to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul is explaining that the Spirit "searches everything, even the depths of God." Paul goes on to say that our human spirit knows our human spirit. In the same vein, the Spirit knows God. We know Christ, and through Christ we know the Spirit. Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena's feast day. Catherine carried on Jesus' legacy as an influencer in her time. Like Jesus and Dominic before her, Catherine cultivated her relationship with God. Even as a child, she negotiated with her parents to have the space that allowed her to enter her "inner cell of self-knowledge." Catherine came to see herself through the loving eyes of God. Her true self. She drew closer to Jesus and let the Spirit lead her into a closer relationship with the Divine, developing the certainty she would later take to the world. Like Jesus and Dominic, Catherine loved the world. She lived during the 14th century, a wretched time of the bubonic plague and the church schism. The world seemed bleak, yet there was hope. Catherine moved into public life, responding to the needs she saw right before her. First as a nurse and eventually writing letters to patriarchal rulers, including the pope. She was determined and believed that she needed to speak as if she were a million voices, so sure that if you didn’t speak out, the world would die. It wasn’t easy for Catherine. She was ridiculed and ignored. Catherine’s spiritual director, Raymond of Capua, wrote that God spoke the following to Catherine: I have no intention whatever of parting you from myself, but rather of making sure to bind you to me all the closer by the bond of your love and your neighbor. God never left her; the Spirit continually guided her. Do you see us in this story? We are at a unique time in our history. As a congregation, we are changing rapidly. Religious life is transforming. The world still needs to know there is hope. Yet, in our Dominican tradition, how do we respond? Earlier at the prayer service, Nancy Mason Bordley talked about the Dominican Charism, the Dominican Mantle, being taken on by coworkers and associates. How are we changing? How do we do what is ours to do, and speak out as if we have a million voices? Recently I have been working with a few coworkers on our history. Coupling that with the grace of sending our sisters home to God has been amazing, I have had the privilege of hearing the sister’s individual legacy through the eyes of the Congregation, and their family and their friends. I have never been so affirmed in this life. Clearly the Sprit has been with us through these times. The Spirit remains with us today and will be there into the future. What is our next adventure? Where is Spirit leading us now? So today a fine day to celebrate. We celebrate St. Catherine of Siena, our Dominican Heritage, the gift of the Spirit and each other. In closing, I want to share one of St. Catherine's prayers with you. May it touch your heart as we, together, enter the inner cell of self-knowledge and let the Spirit lead us into a deeper knowledge of God. "Eternal God, you are a mystery as deep as the ocean. The more I search, the more I find; the more I find, the more I search for you." Amen, Alleluia!