Reminders that St. Catherine once lived in Siena are everywhere. It is tempting to see only the places where exceptional signs of holiness occurred, or where her relics are now glorified. However, to do so is to miss something important. When you see only those places, you risk building a wall of separation between yourself and the holy. The thought “She was a saint,” may be quickly followed by, “and I’m not.” In so doing, you might forget that you too are a child of God, called by him to grace and holiness.
Sometimes it is easier to remember that in humbler places, like the Fontebranda fountain, where Catherine went to draw water for her family. (Side note: It also has some literary significance, being cited by Dante in the Inferno.) You might not be able to imagine yourself caught up in a heavenly vision, but I suspect that you can imagine going down a steep hill each day to get water, and then trudging back up the steps.
God is present in the miraculous, in the visions, and in visible ministry; but God is also present in the daily necessities and faithfulness.
(This is the first in a series of reflections on St. Catherine of Siena, and the Oratory that bears her name. They were inspired by my visit to Siena in September, and the photographs were taken then. The season of Lent is a good time to reflect on those who have gone before us in the faith. )
Sometimes, saints (and other people) are portrayed sleeping as a metaphor for death. This statue of St. Catherine asleep, however, can be found in the Night Chapel of St. Maria Della Scala, and it commemorates a place where the saint often found rest. St. Maria Della Scala in her day was a massive hospital complex, and St. Catherine ministered there to the sick, injured, and dying at all hours.
On a stone slab there in the Night Chapel, it is recorded that St. Catherine slept, recovering strength and energy to go on with her work.
Now St. Maria Della Scala is a remarkable art museum, which preserves and displays its history, as well as art that spans the centuries. One of the places preserved is that very chapel where St. Catherine rested. Dark and quiet, the chapel attracts few of the tourists that come to see the exhibits on the upper floors. The sense of sanctity still lingers however, and it is easy to visualize the saint and those who followed her praying for those that they ministered to.
The Night Chapel is very much a part of the hospital, almost at its very heart, and yet it is separate enough that one can find a restorative solitude and a place for silent prayer. And so there is a cycle of ministry and prayer, action and rest that we should all take to heart.
I pray that the Oratory that bears her name here can be a similar place of refreshment, worship, rest, and prayer, to equip those who attend with the strength and resolution to carry on their ministries in the world.
The Eucharist will be celebrated every Sunday during Lent at 10:00 a.m.:
February 14, 21, 28
March 6, 13
Palm Sunday (March 20)
Easter (March 27)
There will also be additional services during Holy Week: Maundy Thursday (3/24), Good Friday(25) and Easter Vigil (3/26), as well as a eucharist during the Bishop’s visitation (details to come).
During Lent, the Oratory will be celebrating the eucharist using Rite I of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, a service that combines traditional language with reminders of the solemnity of Lent.
As always, all are welcome to join us. For more information, feel free to email the Chaplain at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 401-529-7780.
The Eucharist will be celebrated on:
December 20 (Fourth Sunday in Advent)
(NOTE: There will not be a service on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day)
January 3 (Second Sunday after Christmas)
January 31 (Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany)
February 7 (Transfiguration Sunday)
February 14, 21, 28 (First, Second and Third Sundays in Lent)
The Chaplain will be out of the country for most of January, but may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com if necessary.
There will be an Ash Wednesday service on February 10. If you are interested, please contact the Chaplain for details.
We will continue to celebrate the Tridentine mass from the English Missal until Lent, when we will switch to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, Rite I. That use will continue through Lent, unless there is a pastoral need to change it.
You are welcome at any of the services.
Upcoming Mass Schedule for the Oratory:
The Chaplain will be in in Italy (Rome and Siena) for the first two weeks of September, and away several weeks in October as well.
All services are at 10:00 AM in Beverly, MA. In keeping with the Independent Catholic Christian Church’s hallmark of diversity, we will be celebrating the Mass using the Roman Catholic form of the Novus Ordo on a regular basis. We may, on occasion, use the English version of the Tridentine Mass (from the English Missal) or one of the Rites from the Book of Common Prayer, depending on the pastoral situation.
E-mail the chaplain at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details if you are interested. All are welcome.
September 20, 26
October 4, 18