This week once again, I raced right through Book 2 of our time with St. Catherine of Siena, and I am so in love with this style of Catholic historical fiction based on the life of a saint. It has me thinking all sorts of fun thoughts for a Summer Book Club, so be prepared to chat about that over Easter. ;-)
When we last left off with Catherine, she felt called to move away the home monastery model of living in her bedroom within her parents' house as if it were a cell, coming out only to worship with the other Mantellates. Instead, she is now working in the hospital, caring for critically ill patients in dire need of TLC. She does return home to be at the deathbed of her father, whose time in purgatory is taken on by Catherine, and she rejoices when he is called to our Lord, and she has the solace of knowing that he is in heaven.
Catherine is also now encountering members of the local community who are not exactly living their lives in accordance with their faith. We have amusing and endearing anecdotes in this section of a curmudgeonly falconer who has developed a scathing hatred of the Church and the priesthood, that after an encounter with Catherine goes to the parish church to apologize, receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, and gift the priests with his favorite falcon. A local Franciscan who was living a bit too richly off-handedly asks Catherine to pray for him, and suddenly has a revelation that he is not living out his vocation in a way that is pleasing to God, and consequently donates all of his lovely possessions to the poor. There is also a town ladies man having an affair with a married woman who repents and goes to confession, and highly learned British hermit (with a bit of a superiority complex) that Catherine puts in his place. She's discreet, but not exactly shy, our Catherine.
But her obvious sanctity and calling out of others on their bad behavior ruffles some feathers, to be sure, especially the married woman who has now been cast aside by her former beau. As well, while many of her sister Mantellates adore her, there are some that have not been won over. The rising tide of the gossip mill within their town causes the Prioress to advise Catherine that she is going to be brought before the Master General to face allegations that her time with various townspeople has had a scandalous element to it.
What did you all think of this part?! I really felt for Catherine being on the receiving end of others' jealousy and insecurity. I really admire her spunky personality, and her commitment to her faith. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!