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Making Peace, One Letter at a Time

[caption id="attachment_1962" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP[/caption] We just celebrated the feast of a great Dominican saint, Catherine of Siena. She imitated Christ in her many ministries to the poor, sick and dying. She also saw how Jesus advocated for the poor and vulnerable in his resistance to the "powers that be" standing up to the Pharisees, scribes, and priests who contributed to the structural evil that so oppressed the people. Jesus was never afraid to speak truth to power and neither was Catherine. Her commitment for peace and justice often came in the form of letters. In the Dialog, Catherine hears Jesus say "the soul speaks…proclaiming the doctrine of my truth, in admonishing, advising, giving witness without fear of any harm…boldly proclaiming it to everyone in different ways." She took this seriously which her letters reflect. During Catherine’s ministry, the pope was in Avignon, and there was a war between the Papacy and the Papal States in Italy. She worked tirelessly to stop this war and get Pope Gregory XI back to Rome. She writes, "God wants you to make peace with all of Tuscany, with whom you are at war…See to it, as you value your life, that you are not guilty of irresponsibility. You can see that justice is done." Catherine worked both sides of the aisle and so to Nicolo Soderini, a leader in Florence plotting against the pope, she admonishes, "It doesn’t seem to me that war is so lovely a thing that we should go running after it when we can prevent it. But is there anything lovelier than peace? Certainly not." She even wrote to King Charles V of France asking that he "uphold true holy justice. Don’t pretend not to see if your officials are inflicting injustice for money, denying the poor their rights. God will hold you and the others responsible for this at the moment of your death, because of all the foolish apathy of which you have been and are guilty every day." Catherine is bold and brave, not mincing words to the most powerful men of her time, and never afraid to write to an individual in authority and speak the truth. Can we imitate Catherine - writing our own bold and courageous letters? Communicating with our own government leaders does make a huge difference in our world. We can write to our U.S. Senators and Representatives and encourage them to spend money on the many important concerns we have that need government support: Parkinson’s research, cancer research, education, and many, many important issues. We can write to our governors and state representatives to speak for those who have no voice. Let’s take Catherine’s words to Raymond of Capua as our own as we speak out or write against injustice: "In the gentle power of this Spirit, we can proclaim the truth and not allow our fear to silence us."  

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