St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day 2023 Morning Prayer Service Preaching by Associate Nancy Mason Bordley, Director of the Office of Dominican Charism Friday, April 28, 2023 Excerpt from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena In her Dialogues, Catherine prayed to God for reform of the Church. Her prayer was granted when God worked through her and others to reform the church. There was much work to be done. In Catherine’s time, the Black Death had killed almost a third of Europe. The Hundred Years War between France and England was raging as well as smaller wars between cities like Rome and Florence. The Pope was living in exile in France which would eventually lead to a great schism with one Pope in France and another Pope in Rome. The morality of the clergy was at an all-time low. Catherine realized she couldn’t solve the Black Death or stop the Hundred Years War. So she concentrated on what she could do: mediating peace between Rome and Florence, getting the Pope to return to Rome, and writing letters exposing and condemning immorality among the clergy. It was unheard of for a woman to do these things. But by working with a sense of urgency, she succeeded. The plagues, wars and clerical corruption in Catherine’s time remind us of How the covid pandemic killed millions of people, how climate change is destroying parts of the planet, how Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens the world and how the church’s sexual abuse scandals betrayed the trust of our children and their parents Pope Francis’s Vatican II leadership has been bitterly challenged, with some calling for a schism. Catholic schools and churches are closing. And our country, like our church, is bitterly divided. So, what are we doing about it? We are doing what Catherine did. We start with prayer , the first key value of Dominican life. Then we need to work with God to answer our own prayer, or at least part of it. To understand how the world should change and what we can do to help, we turn to study, the second value of Dominican life. But in a world filled with fake news, what should we study? Those of you in Archives preserve our great tradition. Those of you in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion help us to correctly understand our history. And those of you in IT and Communications keep us in touch with both the problems as well as the opportunities of the present. Since no single individual can solve these problems. we turn to community , the third Dominican value. Those of you in administration, at Weber Center and working in food services, help us join as community. In community, we divide the problem into many small pieces and each one of us takes a different piece. To address our piece of the problem, we turn to service , the fourth value of Dominican life: Those of you in health care work tirelessly to protect our aging population. Those of you in advocacy help climate refugees immigrate to safer countries. Those of you in earth care show the world how climate change can be slowed. Those of you in justice and peace help the victims of war, while condemning violence. But there is a looming existential threat to our Dominican values. Because of the decline in vocations, there will be fewer and fewer vowed religious in the world. Our vowed religious and clergy have faithfully kept Dominican values alive for centuries. But now it is time for non-vowed Dominicans, like Catherine of Siena, myself, and many of you, to assume responsibility for keeping those values and traditions alive. That is the challenge of the Office of the Dominican Charism. Like Catherine, we all must live with a sense of urgency — for our church, and our world, are at stake.