St Catherine of Siena as a woman exercised an apostolate that perhaps no other woman has done before or since. She counselled popes and cardinals and people in very walk of life. Like our Lord Himself she had a great following of people wherever she went. These were called the “Caterinati”, that is the followers of Catherine, who called her and loved her as a mother. Still, anyone who knows anything of St Catherine’s spirituality will realise that it is a very vigorous and virile one. She constantly speaks of such themes as: “living in the light of holy faith”, “the love of Christ crucified”, courage and patience, to mention but a few – in short the narrow way of the Gospel. The extract from “The Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena” that I have chosen illustrates this point:
(Chapter 5 – the Eternal Father is speaking) “Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offences committed against Me. Thou didst ask Me to sustain thee, and to punish the faults of others in thee, and thou didst not remark that thou wast really asking for love, light, and the knowledge of the truth, since I have already told thee that, by the increase of love, grows grief and pain, wherefore he that grows in love grows in grief. Therefore, I say to you all, that you should ask, and it will be given you, for I deny nothing to him who asks of Me in truth. Consider that the love of divine charity is so closely joined in the soul with prefect patience, that neither can leave the soul without the other. For this reason (if the soul chooses to love Me) she should chose to endure pains for Me in whatever mode or circumstance I may send them to her. Patience cannot be proved in any other way than by suffering, and patience is united with love as has been said. Therefore bear yourselves with manly courage, for, unless you do so, you will not prove yourselves to be spouses of My Truth, and faithful children, nor of the company of those who relish the taste of My honour, and the salvation of souls.”