Saint Catherine of Siena wrote no autobiography. Yet, there are clearly autobiographical passages scattered throughout her works. I believe that Catherine’s model of spirituality cannot become our own unless we have gone through our own conversion process in life. This call to follow Catherine in our Dominican way of life requires constant effort to understand her way of life in terms of the questions of our day.
In ministry, we can become overwhelmed with caring for others and forget why we are doing what we are doing. Catherine gives us the example of balance, giving her deep relationship with our Lord its due, while also being deeply involved with the needs before her. This “conversation” with Jesus is “heard” in the “Dialogue,” “The Prayers,” and her “Letters.” There is unlimited wealth in consulting a saint such as Catherine of Siena. She integrated the contemplative and active dimensions of her life through transforming love.
Today, on the Feast Day of Saint Catherine of Siena, I’d like to offer for reflection four specific instances of love in her writings. They challenge me to love ever more deeply as I continue my own “dialogue” with God.
Love from ‘Eternal Goodness’
Eternal Goodness, you want me to gaze into you
and see that you love me gratuitously,
so that I may love everyone with the very same love.
You want me, then, to love and serve my neighbors gratuitously,
by helping them spiritually and materially as much as I can…. – From “Prayer 12”
Love with which We Treat Others
So she loves every person with the same love she sees herself loved with, and this is why the soul, as soon as she comes to know me, reaches out to love her neighbors. Because she sees that I love them even more than she does, she also loves them unspeakably much. – From the “Dialogue” pg. 164 Chapter on Tears
Love that We Run After
So when we see ourselves loved so indescribably much by God, we run after love, loving God and whatever God loves most, pleased by whatever pleases God, and displeased by whatever displeases him. And because we see that the Creator loves his human creatures most of all, we love them, too; and the service we cannot do for God we do for other people for love of him. – From the “Letters” #301 in Vol. III
Love that We Ask for
I ask you to love me with the same love with which I love you…You cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbors: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me- that is love them…And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me. – From the “Dialogue” #64
Today especially, we do well to remember that our very nature is boundless love. As Saint Catherine of Siena writes, “By the fire of love, God created us.” With joyful and pure hearts, let us return love for love!
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