We have come to the final reflection of our novena in preparation for the feast of St Catherine. By happy co-incidence today is also what has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday when we pray for the Church and in particular for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The readings at Mass this morning reminded us of the immensity of God’s love for each of us– St John in his first letter reminds us that we are the beloved children of God and in the Gospel Jesus tells us no less then five times that he freely lays down his life for us.
In a letter to Daniella da Orvieta Catherine reminded her of the love in which we were created and the even greater love by which we were redeemed in the precious Blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Love of this immensity calls for our response.  Catherine’s whole life was given for the glory of God and the salvation of her brothers and sisters and she encouraged others to follow her example – she continues to speak to us today through her letter to Daniella:
“I Catherine, long to see you bathed and drowned in the blood of Jesus Christ crucified.  There you will find the fire of divine charity; there you will experience your soul’s beauty and its great dignity.  For God, when he looked within Himself, fell in love with the beauty of His creature and like one drunk with love, created us in His own image and likeness.  ……  how right that we should immerse ourselves in the Blood of our Saviour in order to better conceive love for God’s honour and the salvation of souls………
Now is the time to take souls as your food at the table of the most holy Cross.  Every time is the time, but never have you or anyone else seen a time of greater need.  Be moved, my daughter by bitter sorrow for the darkness that has come over holy church!  Human help seems to be failing us; you and the rest of God’s servants must call on His help.  See that you are not guilty of unconcern; this is a time of watching, not a time for sleep.  You know well that when the enemies are at the gates they will most certainly destroy the city if the guards and the rest of the people are asleep.  We are surrounded by many enemies.  In the case of our soul, you know that the world and our weakness and the devil with all his suggestions never sleep but are always ready to see whether we are asleep so that they can enter in and like thieves rob the city of our soul.
And the mystic body of holy Church is also surrounded by many enemies.  So you see that those who are appointed to be pillars and sustainers of holy Church have in the darkness of heresy become her persecutors.  This is no time to sleep.  We must defeat them with vigils, tears and sweat, with grieving and loving desires, with constant humble prayer.  And see to it that, as a daughter faithful to Holy Church, you insistently beg the most high and gracious God to take care of her in this need.  Ask God to strengthen the Holy Father, Christ’s vicar on earth, and give him light…….
Hide in the cavern of the open side of Christ Crucified, where you have discovered His overflowing blood – keep living in God’s holy and tender love – have a hungry longing for His honour.  Gentle Jesus! Jesus love!”