On this 7th day of our Novena, I would like to share an extract from “The Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Raymond of Capua”.  Blessed Raymond was St. Catherine’s Confessor and Spiritual Director. It illustrates St. Catherine’s love of the Blessed Eucharist and her frequent reception of it at a time when that was not common practice in the Church.

“All who knew Catherine were well aware of her profound and characteristic reverence and devotion towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Body of our Lord.  She received the Sacrament so frequently that it was popularly reported that the “maiden Catherine receives Holy Communion every day,” and that she lived and kept up her strength on it without taking any other food.  Although in saying this they were not quite correct, still I believe they spoke in good faith, and to the honour of God, who always shows himself wonderful in his saints.  The fact was that Catherine did receive Holy Communion with heartfelt devotion, not indeed every day, but frequently.  For this reason certain people whom I must refer to in the biblical phrase as “satraps of the Philistines” rather than as Christian believers in this regard, murmured against the frequency of  her communions.  But I took up her defence against them and they could not rebut the arguments I gave.  I routed them with the words and the actions of the holy Fathers and of holy Church herself.”

“So great sometimes was her longing for Communion that, on occasions on which she had to go without it, her frail body went through more suffering than if she had been suffering intense pain or fever for days at a time.   All that bodily distress came from anguish of soul.  And this was a suffering that was inflicted on her again and again, over a long period of time, by all kinds of people:  sometimes by misguided superiors of the friars, sometimes by the Prioress of the Sisters of Penance, sometimes even by men or women belonging to the closest circle of her friends.  This was the one reason  why my spiritual direction brought her more consolation than that of any of her previous directors.  No matter what obstacles were raised by those who wished to prevent her from receiving Holy Communion, I always did my utmost to let her have the consolation she sought and found in it.  In this way she got into the habit of saying to me sometimes, if I happened to be present when her soul was stirred with a longing for Holy Communion: ‘Father, I am hungry; for God’s sake give my soul its food.’  For this reason, too, it was arranged, and granted her by a Bull of His Lordship Pope Gregory XI of happy memory, that she could have with her every day a priest to give her absolution and administer Holy Communion to her, with the right to use a portable altar, so that she could hear Mass and receive Holy Communion daily, without let or hindrance from anyone.”