Saturday, January 27, 2018

Preaching at San Domenico

Yesterday I joined the St. Mary's College group in a tour of Siena with Dr. Maria Elena Torchio and was honored to be invited to preach at Mass in the Friar's chapel at San Domenico.  The head of Saint Catherine is reserved in the tabernacle above the altar in this chapel, and is visible in the main church.  My preaching tied together the readings for the day from Paul's letter to Timothy, the life of St. Catherine and the Gospel readings for the week which have been about the sower of the seed of the Gospel.  My homily was about coming to recognize the importance of family, particularly women in the family in laying the groundwork of the faith in our hearts.  Paul credits Timothy's grandmother Lois and mother Eunice, both Jewish converts to the Christian faith, for the example of piety and faith they set.  St. Catherine was one of 25 children born to Lapa Piagenti during the time of the Black Death.  Many of Catherine's siblings, including her own twin, died.  Catherine's mystical visions began when she was five years old and by the time she was a teenager she resolved to seclude herself in prayer under the stairs of her home.  What a challenge she must have been for her mother! Catherine grew in faith and became a great preacher and prophet of truth, helping to the heal the schism in the group and bringing the Pope back to Rome.  When we read about the Great Sower who sows seeds on soil that is good, and soil that is too rocky, too thorny or too barren, we tend to think of ourselves as the soil and ask ourselves just which kind of soil we are.  But, I am challenged today instead to think of the role of family in preparing the soil for the Great Sower.  I recognize that it is my family and friends that have removed the rocky places and thorns in my heart and tilled the ground of my heart making it receptive to the Word of the Gospel.  I see now that this is the challenge of the Gospel this week.  We are each called to take up that responsibility ourselves, to soften the hearts of family and friends and colleagues, so that when the Great Sower comes, they are ready to receive the Word and grow in faith.