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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, May 1, 2015

Catherine of Siena and Deaconfest '15


Deacons R Us
Yesterday was the Feast of Catherine of Siena, a Doctor of the Church. Not coincidentally, five days earlier, the Bishop of Allentown ordained 47 deacons, the largest class of permanent deacons in the US at St. Thomas More. See above.

The Cathedral church of the diocese is St. Catherine of Siena, which possesses a relic of the saint.David Warren write a nice encomium to the Doctor, one of four women with that distinction. (The other three are  Hildegard of Bingen ["The Sybil of the Rhine"], Teresa of Ávila, and Thérèse of Lisieux ["The Little Flower"]. Mr. Warren writes:
She is among the largest figures in Church history, but also in worldly, political affairs; a paragon for sanctity in absolute terms; a font of spiritual knowledge communicated in hundreds of extraordinary letters, prayers, meditations — and her Dialogue of Divine Providence, a formative work in the Tuscan vernacular. She stands astride the fourteenth century as a beacon to all ages: patroness of Italy (with Saint Francis Assisi), mystical counterpart to Dante, and angel of reconciliation across Christendom.
Yet more extraordinary, to us glib moderns: everything she accomplished remains within sight of the demonstrable historical record; everything witnessed with conventional human eyes, and surviving in evidence still physically available.
Were nothing holy allowed to her — nothing the agnostic historian will recognize as miraculous — she must still be admired for having, often single-handedly, by the boldest imaginable acts of persuasion, on the basis of no formal authority or title, achieved astounding things.
These would include healing the Great Schism of the fourteenth century; bringing the papacy from exile in Avignon home to Rome (with Europe-wide ramifications); negotiating peace between warring Italian states; quelling insurrections; reforming the incorrigible; and turning the whole worldly activity of the Church once again healthily outward — back on mission and crusade, after a period of institutional self-immolation almost as shameful to recount as our own times. And this before she died, “under the whole weight of the Barque of Peter,” at the age of thirty-three.

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