FROM SIENA TO ROME
Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Dear rovers and rangers,
Before summer 2019, you will chose your way to Rome – the final destination of the Euromoot 2019. These ways – roads and paths – will lead you through places connected to the Euromoot saints: Saint Catherine, Saint Paul, Saint Benedict, Saint Francis.
Today, we present to you Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast we celebrate on April 29th.
Imagine a divided medieval Europe of the 14th century, marked with violence and uncertain future: cities and states are fighting against each other, the Church is divided, the pope fled from Rome and is ruling from Avignon in France, the Black Death is taking millions of lives…
Imagine a single woman shining out on this background of human and religious crisis. A woman who kicked off many changes in the Church and society.
A woman who became the spiritual mother on many indecisive young people of her time struggling to find the right direction in their lives. This woman was St.Catherine of Siena.
Driven by the deep spiritual experience of meeting Jesus at the age of 6 years, young St. Catherine decided to enter the Third Order of the Dominicans when she was 16. She refused to live conventionally – according to the wishes of her family that wanted a good marriage for her – contrarily, she listened to God. In a time of spoilt human identity she found the answer to the question: “Who am I?”. She found it because she found who God is first.
This was a completely different approach to what is “modern” now – to find yourself first and then try to find the unrealistic idea of God made from the human perspective.
St. Catherine found God as the centre of her identity. For many people today, especially young people, there is a deep hunger for identity. If St. Catherine was speaking to these modern people she would probably say:
“Do not be scared, because you are utterly loved and valued by God. If there is anyone who unconditionally loves you, it is God, who created you, who wanted you to be here!”
There is a very simple explanation of God – Love. With this knowledge, St. Catherine decided to go towards other people, because she knew that love is only real when it is shared.
You know that the duty of rovers and rangers is to serve. Service is love and sacrifice.
Service was the road taken by St. Catherine. She took it with full responsibility. She found her way not only in helping the poor, visiting prisoners, caring for those who suffered from leprosy, but she also exhorted the high representatives of cities, states and the Church. She wrote to some cardinals:
“Be silent no longer! Cry out with a hundred thousand voices! I see that the world is destroyed through silence. Christ’s spouse is pallid; her colour has been drained from her.”
She even managed to convince the Pope to get back to Rome from Avignon.
She wrote letters to the rulers like Charles V of France, Charles of Durazzo, Elisabeth of Hungary, Louis the Great of Hungary and Poland and Giovanna of Naples with efforts to bring peace and to resolve conflicts. By the words of Saint John Paul II. proclaiming St. Catherine co-patroness of Europe in 1999: “Placing “Christ crucified and sweet Mary” before the parties involved, she made it clear that in a society inspired by Christian values there could never be grounds for conflict so serious that the reasons of force need prevail over the force of reason.”
St. Catherine showed real scout values even in the 14th Century by serving her best God, the Church, her fatherland and Europe.
Dear rovers and rangers, what about us? What message can we take from the life of St.Catherine?
During this period of preparation to the Euromoot, you can try to answer these three questions:
- Who is God to me?
- Who am I?
- What action I can take to serve my better Church and Europe?
Now let us pray together the prayer of St. Catherine of Siena for all those searching for real identity and a place to serve as good Christians and good citizens:
I pray to you for all those you have given me
to love with a special love
and with special concern.
Let them be illuminated with your light.
Let all imperfection be taken from them,
so that in truth they may work in your garden,
where you have assigned them.