Monday, February 25, 2008

St. Catherine of Siena: lay, that is, Christian

I didn't know much about St. Catherine before reading Louis de Wohl's Lay Siege to Heaven. I knew that she was Dominican, but I didn't know that she was a tertiary, a lay affiliate of the Dominicans. She is called a nun throughout the book but she lived most of her life in her mother's house. In her letters especially, she urged people in every part of society to move beyond their own interests and embrace catholic peace. At one point, someone describes her as both a politician and a saint. Now, that's what it means to be Christian, or lay.


JACK said...

I guess I might have assumed the same if I weren't most familiar with her through the work of the Sienna Institute (a Dominican apostolate on the vocation of the laity).

Freder1ck said...

It's fascinating to me because the Dominicans as a preaching order were necessarily made up of priests; and yet, through third orders, the Dominican charism was available to everybody. Apostolates like the Catherine of Siena Institute are also laudable because every charism radiates to the whole Church without distinction: e.g. when folks look at the Stations of the Cross or the Nativity scene, they don't think "hey, that's so Franciscan" - instead, these Franciscan elements have become simply Catholic.