In keeping with yesterday's theme of a divine Church instituted by Christ filled with imperfect and sinful men, we celebrate the feast of St. Colette. She started a reform movement in the Church 600 years ago that continues to this day in several countries around the world as the Colettines Poor Clares .
Look at the conditions of her time: three men were vying to be the rightful pope and the gates of Hell were trying desperately to prevail against the Church. The religious orders of her day were falling apart as the hierarchy of the Church was trying to retain its influence in the politics of western Europe.
St. Colette's options were to focus on the disordered state of affairs and decide to leave the Church or even her faith. Another option could have been to start a new church claiming that the current one was un-salvageable. But she stayed and prayed and fasted and remained obedient. Her advice along with that of St. Vincent Ferrer helped to heal the great schism and bring about the rightful election of pope Martin. St Francis of Assisi had done the same thing a few hundred years before her. Sadly, we have seen the results when individuals take it upon themselves to declare that the gates of hell have indeed prevailed.
Here's a letter from St. Colette written in 1442.
Dear Lady and especially loved in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as much and as humbly as I can and may, I recommend myself always to your good grace and in your devout prayers and supplications before Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I beg you to strive ceaselessly to go from strength to strength in his most perfect love, remaining continually, strong and virtuous in his most holy and worthy service; for the kingdom is promised to those who set out on this way, but it is to those who persevere loyally that the crown will be given. And as long as we are alive there will be many perils, especially from our enemies, the world and the flesh,and the devil, who day and night wage war on us in numberless ways. Against these we must arm and defend ourselves, for it is needful for us to conquer them if we do not want to be overcome ourselves, and, as Saint Paul says, we cannot have the victory without a battle, nor a crown without a victory.
We can do nothing by ourselves without the aid and grace of God. We can neither do good nor resist our enemies. We need to turn to our good and true Master, Our Lord Jesus Christ and to beg him to equip us with his weapons so that we can the more surely overcome. These weapons, among others with which he was armed in this poor world, while bringing about and fulfilling the mystery of our redemption in the face of these three adversaries were: against the world, true and holy poverty from his birth until his death stripped naked on the cross: against the flesh, pure, holy and perfect chastity of heart and body, born and conceived of a pure, virgin mother: against the Adversary, perfect humility and true obedience right up to his death and all in perfect charity.
And whoever is thus armed can go forward into battle with sure heart. In short, these are the weapons with which he has wished to equip those men and women whom by means of his grace he has wished to call into his service, and who have wanted to follow him in the life of the Gospel and the way of the Apostles.
And I beseech him in his infinite goodness always to watch over and guard you completely, and so to enlighten you with his grace, that you may serve him always and endlessly, and love Him in the way of life which is most pleasing to him, and fight for him loyally under the banner of his Church. Thus you will be able to love him everlastingly and reign in his glorious, heavenly palace, for ever and ever.
Amen.Your unworthy handmaid who prays for you,
Sister Colette. (Letter to Marie de Boen of Ghent c. 1442)