St Catherine on Obedience

As we, as a community, have been and continue to reflect on the theme of obedience, I would like to read extracts from one of Catherine’s Prayers, number eleven, which teaches us many things about obedience, but especially the profound and inseparable link between obedience and love. In this prayer Catherine makes reference to a statement made by the Father in the Dialogue with particular reference to love and obedience. I quote: “So you see that in whatever bond of love they finish their lives, that bond is theirs forever and lasts eternally. They are so conformed to my will that they can will only what I will. When time came to an end for them, and they died in grace, their freedom was so bound with the chains of charity that they are no longer capable of sin.” (No 41)

Catherine prays:

Eternal Godhead!
Your Truth shows us
that the soul must strip herself of her selfish will
if she wants to be clothed perfectly in yours.
Dispossessed of her own will,
she is so well clothed in yours
that she neither seeks nor desires anything
but what you seek and will for her.

You are in love with such a soul,
and she with you.
But you love her gratuitously,
since you loved her before she came to be,
while she loves you because it is her duty.
She has come to know that
she cannot love you gratuitously,
since it is she who is obligated to you,
not you to her,
and she has seen that this free love
which she cannot give to you
she must give to her neighbours,
loving them gratuitously
nor does she serve them for any profit she might get from them
but only for love;
and she loves them
because you command it
and it is her duty to obey you.

You who are fire
share the fire with her,
and in the fire
you fuse your will with hers
and hers with yours.
You who are strength
give her strength,
and she becomes so strong
that neither demon nor any other creature
can deprive her of your strength
unless she herself wills it-
nor will she ever will it
so long as she wears the garment of your will,
for it is only her own will
by itself
that makes her weaken.
You who are infinite,
make her infinite
by reason of the conformity you have brought about
between yourself and her-
by grace while she is a pilgrim in this life,
and in everlasting life by her seeing you eternally.
There she becomes so perfectly conformed with you
that her free choice is enchained
so that she can no longer be separated from you.
Thanks,
thanks to you high eternal Trinity,
for in your light you have refreshed my soul
by letting me see how we,
your creatures, are conformed with you,
and by teaching me how surpassing wonderful is your will.
High eternal Godhead, grant us your gentle benediction. Amen.