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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.
"We run no risk of deceiving ourselves in considering a Superior Intelligence the author of all things, in referring to it those splendors of the heavens which aroused our thoughts; and finally we are ready to understand and accept the traditional formula: God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth."
~ Herve Faye, inventor; chair of astronomy at the Ecole Polytechnique; Academy of Sciences member