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St Catherine

Back on Line!

We are happy to announce that our internet connection is functioning again after more than two weeks – hopefully there will be no further disruption.Today we begin our novena in preparation for the feast of St Catherine of Siena. This year we are remembering in a special way the needs of Pope Bendedict XVI and the universal Church and more particularly our Irish Church – for the victims of sexual abuse and those members of the Church who have failed them, as we pray for the mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation which are so much needed. As we know, St Catherine of Siena prayed, suffered and worked tirelessly for the Pope and the Church of her day. Before Vespers each evening during these nine days of novena one sister reads an extract from Catherine’s writings – this year we will focus mainly on her writings related to the Church and the abuses of her times. During the coming days we hope to share some of these with you.

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 9

From a letter of St Catherine to Frate Tommaso dalla Fonte鈥.Dearest Father, I beg you to fulfil my longing to see you united with and transformed in God. But this is impossible unless we are one with His Will. Oh sweetest eternal Will, to have taught us how to discover your holy Will! If we were to ask that gentlest most loving young man and most merciful father, this is how he would answer us: 鈥淒earest children, if you wish to discover and experience the effects of My will, dwell within the cell of your soul鈥. This cell is a well in which there is earth as well as water. In the earth we can recognise our own poverty: we see that we are not – for we are not. We see that our being is from God. Oh ineffable blazing charity! I see next that as we discover the earth we get to the living water, the very core of the knowledge of God鈥檚 true and gentle will which desires nothing else but that we be made holy. So let us enter into the depths of that well – for if we dwell there, we will necessarily come to know both ourselves and God鈥檚 goodness. In recognising that we are nothing we humble ourselves. And in humbling ourselves we enter that flaming, consumed heart, opened up like a window without shutters, never to be closed. As we focus there the eye of the free will God has given us, we see and know that His Will has become nothing other than our sanctification. Love, sweet love! Open, open up our memory […]

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 8

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:I have told you how tears well up from the heart: The heart gathers them up from its burning desire and holds them out to the eyes. Just as green wood, when it is put into the fire, weeps tears of water in the heat because it is still green (for if it were dry it would not weep), so does the heart weep when it is made green again by the renewal of grace, after the desiccating dryness of selfishness has been drawn out of the soul. Thus are fire and tears made one in burning desire. And because desire has no end it cannot be satisfied in this life. Rather, the more it loves, the less it seems to itself to love. So love exerts a holy longing, and with that longing the eyes weep.But once the soul is separated from the body and has reached Me, her final goal, she does not on that account give up her desire so as to no longer desire Me and the charity of her neighbours. For charity has entered into her like a great lady, bearing with her the fruit of all the other virtues. What has ended is suffering, because if she longs for Me she now possesses me in truth without any fear of being able to lose what she has so long desired. This is how she feeds the flame, for the more she hungers the more she is filled, and the more she is sated, the more she hungers. 鈥 So your desire is an infinite thing. Were it not, could I be served by any finite thing, no virtue would have value or life. […]

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 7

From a Letter of St Catherine to Giovanna dei Pazzi鈥ou will come to know eternal Truth by loving Him. And the only sign we can give of our love is to love everyone else in charity and to suffer with true and royal patience even to the point of death. We must not want to have times and places to our own liking but in God鈥檚 way 鈥 and God neither seeks nor wants anything but that we be made holy.鈥o I want you to understand, my daughter, that whatever God grants or permits in this life, he does it either because we need it or for our salvation or for our progress in perfection. We should therefore bear it humbly and patiently. We should accept it with reverence, opening our mind鈥檚 eye to consider the great charity and blazing love with which God gives it to us. Once we realise that He gives it not out of hatred but out of love, we will accept it in love. This virtue of patience is so essential for us that we must procure it if we don鈥檛 want to lose the fruit of our labours. 鈥 Where is it to be found? In Christ crucified. For His patience was such that no cry of complaint was heard from Him. The Jews cried, 鈥淐rucify!鈥 And He cried, 鈥淔ather, forgive those who are crucifying me, because they do not know what they are doing.鈥濃is blood has been made a drink for those who want it, and His Body food. For there is no way our appetite can be satisfied, no way our hunger and thirst […]

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 6

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine about charity:It is like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty. Indeed it will always be full. So the love of your neighbour is meant to be drunk in Me without any self-interest.I ask you to love Me with the same love with which I love you. But for Me you cannot do this, for I loved you without being loved. Whatever love you have for Me you owe Me, so you love Me, not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty, but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbours: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for Me – that is, love them wihtout any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.So your love should be sincere: You should love your neighbours with the same love with which you love Me. Do you know how you can tell when your spiritual love is not perfect? If you are distressed when it seems that those you love are not returning your love and not loving you as much as you think you love them. Or if you are distressed when it seems to you that you are being deprived […]

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 5

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:Keep in mind that each of you has your own vineyard. But every one is joined to your neighbours’ vineyards without any dividing lines. They are so joined together, in fact, that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same for your neighbours.All of you together make up one common vineyeard, the whole Christian Assembly, and you are all united in the vineyard of the mystic body of holy Church from which you draw your life. In this vineyard is planted the vine, which is my Only-Begotten Son, into whom you must be engrafted. It is charity that binds you to true humility – the humility that is found in knowing yourself and Me. See then that as workers I have sent you all. And now I am calling you again, because the world is failing fast. The thorns have so multiplied and have choked the seed so badly that it will produce no fruit of grace at all.I want you, therefore, to be true workers. With deep concern help to till the souls in the mystic body of holy Church. I am calling you to this because I want to be merciful to the world as you have so earnestly begged Me.From the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena – Chapter 24

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 4

From a letter to Catherine’s eldest brother, Benincasa, when he was living in Florence and had many financial difficulties.In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.Dearest brother in Christ Jesus,I Catherine, comfort and bless you, and I invite you to a gentle, holy patience, without which we cannot please God. I beg you, therefore, to hold the weapon of patience firmly so that you may receive benefit from all your troubles. If it seems very difficult for you to cope with your many trials, there are three things which I suggest may help you to endure more patiently. Firstly, I want you to think about the shortness of life, for you are not certain even of tomorrow. We can indeed say that we do not have our past troubles, nor those which are in the future; all we have is the moment of time in which we are now. Surely then we ought to endure patiently since time is short.Secondly, consider the benefit we gain from our troubles, for St Paul says that there is no comparison between our difficulties and the fruit and reward of eternal glory (cf Rom 8:18. Thirdly, reflect on the evil consequences of indulging in anger and impatience. these evil consequences are with us both here and hereafter. So I beg you dearest brother to bear all your troubles patiently…..Remain in the holy, gentle love of God. Gentle Jesus, Jesus love.From letter 18 in Letters of St Catherine of Siena,Volume I – translated by Suzanne Noffke OP,

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 3

Turst in GodThe Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:This is the sign that people’s trust is in Me rather than in themselves: that they have no slavish fear. Those who trust in themselves are afraid of their own shadow; they expect both heaven and earth to let them down. This fear makes them so concerned about acquiring and holding on to temporal things that they seem to toss the spiritual behind their backs. They forget that I am the One who provides for everything that may be needed for soul or body. In the measure that you put your trust in Me, in that measure will My Providence be meted out to you. So consider it useless to wear yourself out guarding you city unless it is guarded by Me. Every effort is useless for those who think they can guard their city by their own toil or concern, for I alone am the Guardian.The only ones who are afraid are those who think they are alone, who trust in themselves and have no loving charity. They are afraid of every little thing because they are alone, deprived of Me. For it is I who give complete security to the soul who possesses me in love. My glorious loved ones experienced well that nothing could harm their souls because I responded to the love and faith and trust they had put in Me.Taken from the Dialogue of St Catherine, Chapter 119.

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 2

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:My Truth invited you to call out thus when He said: “Call and you will be answered; knock and it shall be opened to you; ask and it shall be given to you.” So I am telling you what I want you to do. Never relax your desire to ask for My help. Never lower you voice in crying out to Me to be merciful to the world. Never stop knocking at the door of my Truth by following in His footsteps. Find your delight with Him on the cross by feeding on souls for the glory and praise of My Name, and with restless heart bewail the death of the human race which you see reduced to such misery. Through this lamentation and crying out it is My Will to be merciful to the world. This is what I require of My servants and this will be a sign to Me that you love Me in truth.Taken from Dialogue of St Catherine,(Chapter 107), Translated by Suzanne Noffke, Classics of Western Spirituality Series.

St Catherine of Siena – Novena Day 1

From a letter to Frate Giusto di Giovanni da Volterra:I long to see you eating and savouring souls. Take your lesson from gentle First Truth who in His restlessly yearning hunger and thirst for our salvation cried out from the wood of the most holy cross, “I thirst”. It is as if He were saying: “I am more longingly thirsty for your salvatin than I can show you through this finite suffering.” Yes, He is tortured with physical thirst, but that suffering is finite. It is the pain of holy desire, shown us in His thirst for the human race, that is infinite. Oh good and gentle Jesus, You let us know You are thirsty and at the same time You ask for a drink. He gave His blood out of love and it is with this love that He asks us for a drink. I mean that Jesus, who loves, is asking to be loved and served. It is only right that the one who loves ought to be loved. This is how we give our Creator a drink: when we give Him love for love. But we cannot give it to Him through any service we can render Him; no we must give it to Him in the person of our neighbour.(Taken from Letter 8 in Letters of St Catherine of Siena, Volume II translated by Suzanne Noffke OP,- published by Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,2001)