Today we honour the memory of Saint Catherine de Ricci O.P. A cloistered Dominican nun whose reputation and sanctity was well known throughout Italy. She corresponded with several bishops who would later become popes. She knew St. Philip Neri and St. Charles Borromeo. Catherine died on 2 February 1590 and was canonised by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746. We ask Saint Catherine’s continued intercession and protection of our community and the entire Order.
We have all seen those rather colourful yet consoling images of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying a fluffy, white sheep on his shoulders. They may seem a little quaint to us today, but they convey a very important truth. Like a real-life shepherd, Our Lord guards us and protects us from harm. He seeks out those who are straying and he finds green pastures where we can rest for a while. He walks with us through our dark valleys, and he fills our days with his goodness and mercy. And finally, when you think he can do no more for us, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for us.
We are all familiar with the sense of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart being moved to compassion for us, just as it was for the crowds we hear about in the gospels. We know that Our Lord takes it upon himself to care for us. But how often do we think of ourselves as his sheep? Are we open to receive what the Good Shepherd is offering, or do we think that we have all we need, and that all he can give us are a few extras that don’t really amount to much?
These questions may sound a bit harsh, but they serve an important purpose in prodding us to take a closer look at our hearts. Ultimately, it’s a question of being honest with ourselves, so that we can receive all the promises and blessings that God wants to give us. The truth is that Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is moved to pity and compassion for us whenever we come to him confessing our need and admitting our sins and our weaknesses. He can fill us up only to the degree that we acknowledge our emptiness.
There’s no escaping this central teaching of the Gospel: we need God’s love just as surely as we need our next breath. God created us and designed us to be fulfilled only as we are united with him. Everything we have comes from him; everything that exists was created by his hand. He knows everything about us, and he longs to gather us in his arms and care for us as only a Good Shepherd can. The only question is: we will come to him?