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Counselor, diplomat, prodigious writer, mystic, ascetic, Dominican, Doctor of the Church—all of these and more describe Catarina Benincasa, the illiterate daughter of a dyer and the youngest of 25 children. But above all else, the woman we know as St. Catherine of Siena was the mystical spouse of Christ her Beloved: "He who is."
One criticism of the Christian faith posits that Jesus never intended to start a new religion—that Paul of Tarsus took that upon himself. More forceful critics have even gone so far as to suggest St. Paul’s made-up religion is actually contrary to the teachings of Christ. But this claim doesn’t bear up when we closely examine Paul’s letters in the light of Jesus’ divine, salvific mission.
In our media-saturated culture, the clamor for a moral code based entirely on the premise of tolerance grows ever louder. Christians, however, are called to love their neighbor. This does not mean tolerating our neighbor’s error, especially not when it poses grave consequences for his soul—and our own.
What, exactly, are unbelievers—or non-Catholic Christians, for that matter—to make of the sun spinning and dancing over a Portuguese field? Or a centuries-old corpse that shows no signs of decay? What should Catholics make of these oddities? Start by acknowledging that supernatural signs simply point us to the greatest Sign of all—the Incarnate Son.
"It is the peculiarity of progress for a thing to be developed in itself; and the peculiarity of change, for a thing to be altered from what it was into something else."
~ Vincent of Lerins, Saint, noting the essential difference between development and alteration of the deposit of faith, over 1,000 years before Protestantism radically altered the face of Christianity. (Commonitorium, I, 23; see P.L., L). (see "Science and the Church")