In this Year of Faith, St. Catherine’s teaching on faith in the following letter can be helpful to all of us as we ponder her words:

Letter T 31 to Madonna Mitarella

March 1373

In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.

Dearest and very loved mother and sister in Christ gentle Jesus, I Caterina, useless servant of Jesus Christ, send you greetings and encouragement in his precious blood. I long to see you a faithful servant in God’s sight, firm in the faith that gives joy and happiness to our soul. We must have the sort of faith our Saviour spoke of: “If you had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed and you commanded this mountain, it would move.” I beg you, dearest sister, to keep living in this faith.

You wrote me that because of what has happened, you are placing your faith and confidence only in the prayers of God’s servants. I beg you then, in the name of God and of our gentlest love Jesus Christ, to stand firm in this sweet holy faith. Oh sweet life-giving faith! If you persevere in that faith, sadness will never overtake your heart. For sadness comes only from putting our trust in creatures. But creatures are frail, lifeless things that sooner or later fail, and our heart can never rest except in what is stable and secure. When we set our heart on other people it is not set on anything stable, for a human being is alive today and tomorrow is dead. So, if we wish to have peace we must rest our heart and soul with faith and love in Christ crucified. Only then will our soul find complete happiness. O Jesus, dearest love! 

If you want to give life to this holy faith, I ask you to keep two things in mind. The first is that God cannot will anything but our good. To give us that true good – because through sin we had lost it – he gave himself even to the shameful death of the cross. Graciously he humbled himself to restore that grace to us and to do away with our pride. How true it is then that God wills only our good! The second thing to keep in mind is this: I want you to believe that truly nothing happens to us except by God’s will and permission –death or life, sickness or health, riches or poverty, even the wrongs done us by friends or relatives or anyone else. Not a leaf falls from a tree without his consent. God gives us what we can bear and no more.

If you believe that God wants only our good, you will stay perfectly happy. Be comforted in Christ crucified, and don’t be afraid.

Gentle God, give us death rather than let us offend you!