At the time, the Church was seen by many as a complete mess. The Pope was under fire, the clergy needed reforming, there were tensions between "liberals" and "conservatives," and the spread of Islam was of great concern.
All this could easily describe the Church in our day. However, this was also the state of affairs some 600 years ago. "Back to the future," as they say.
Now, just because today’s issues were also yesterday’s issues doesn’t minimize their importance. As always, they need to be addressed with wisdom and charity. However, the fact that "what’s old is new again" can serve to remind us that, at the end of the day, God is in control. He didn’t let those issues destroy the Church back then. And he won’t let them destroy the Church today.
One way God shows that he’s in control is by raising up reformers: men and women who help bring the Church back to where it needs to be. St. Catherine of Siena was one such reformer. She and her followers travelled throughout fourteenth-century Italy, advocating clergy reform, preaching renewal to the people, and seeking a peaceful end to long-standing conflicts. She wrote numerous, and sometimes sharply-worded letters to the powerful figures of her day, including the Pope. He came to respect her so much, that he eventually made the change she insisted upon.
St. Catherine’s life and witness assures us that God takes care of his Church. He always has. And he always will.