A quote from St. Catharine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,” was the advice Dr. Richard Chartres gave to Prince William and Kate Middleton during their wedding ceremony. While the quote implies we each have a predetermined fate, it also implies we have a choice – we can choose to use the gifts nature provided us, which familial and societal expectations may or may not have encouraged, or we can craft a life for ourselves without nature’s gifts.
St. Catharine of Siena chose nature in defiance of expectations. Her family, resistant to her joining the order, preferred she marry her sister’s husband after her sister’s death. They were only agreeable to Catharine joining the order after she fell ill. Though St. Catharine died at age 33, she accomplished more than most of us achieve in a lifetime and lived a life sincere to what she believed was her fate.
Regardless of our belief or disbelief about the existence of a predetermined fate, our greatest challenge is often wading through expectations to find our nature – expectations that have no end point, imparted during childhood, carried forward and compounded in adulthood – which was why Dr. Chartres’s advice to the royal couple struck me as so significant.
Crafting a life on balance with the expectations placed upon us can be as great as slaying the proverbial dragon – particularly so if we are a Duke and Duchess. I propose we all give each other a bit of room, withhold our rush to judgment, and, while we are on the theme of religious quotes, ask ourselves if we should be the one to throw the first stone – ask ourselves if throwing a stone will serve any purpose other than adding to an inflexible mound of expectations we, too, must abide by.