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Hunger and Thirst

When we are hungry, we find something to eat. When we are thirsty, we look for something to slake our thirst. When we feel lonely, we seek out some companionship. Our human nature spurs us to satisfy our desires; it is part of who we are. Food and drink do satisfy as do any of the other things that we crave or desire. However, we will be hungry, thirsty and lonely again at some time in the future, and the cycle will repeat itself.

Today the Church remembers St. Catherine of Siena, a lay woman who became one of the most influential saints in our history. She is particularly admired by the Dominican Order as she became a Third Order Dominican while still very young. She is also venerated by European Catholics for whom she is one of six patrons. Her writings reveal a deeply contemplative woman whom Pope Paul VI declared a doctor of the Church in 1970.

In one of her dialogues, she speaks about hunger and thirst and desire from a spiritual perspective: "You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are."

Upon reading this excerpt this morning, I was immediately drawn to Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. . . (Psalm 63:2-3) Each time I pray this psalm, I have been intrigued by the notion that our hunger and thirst for God, which is satisfied by prayer, so often leads us to a deeper hunger and a more powerful thirst. Though I did not realize it until this morning, St. Catherine seems to agree with me. Now I am even more intrigued by this woman and will, no doubt, find myself wanting to learn more about her.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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