the wisdom of Catherine of Siena

“We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent.
Cry out with a thousand tongues –
I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

St. Catherine of Siena

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control
this free will, because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will
into the hands of the Devil—that is,
if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by
the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love,
and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having
it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

The gift Giver who allows you to set the world on fire

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(plover along the surf /Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cool / 2019)

“Love is a strong force — a great good in every way;
it alone can make our burdens light, and alone it bears in equal balance what is pleasing and displeasing.
It carries a burden and does not feel it; it makes all that is bitter taste sweet. …
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing larger, nothing more joyful,
nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth;
for love is born of God and can find its rest only in God above all He has created.
Such lovers fly high, run swiftly and rejoice.
Their souls are free; they give all for all and have all in all.
For they rest in One supreme Goodness above all things, from Whom all other good flows and proceeds.
They look not only at the gifts, but at the Giver, Who is above all gifts.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 108
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

God is dope

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it–
so by not getting what you’ve asked,
you really are getting what you want.”

St. Catherine of Siena

I had the pleasure of attending a corporate function yesterday at a large Atlanta corporation.
It was a great family affair.

I was very surprised when I heard a fellow over a loudspeaker addressing the large
crowd gathered, consisting of employees and their families, grateful that
“the Lord has provided us with such a beautiful day today for our party…”

“Wow,” I thought to myself…how many corporate events, other than Chick-fil-A,
will a person hear such words spoken publically to a large gathered crowd???
A crowd that is not gathered for some sort of church service but simply gathered?!

Hopeful was my immediate reaction.

Next, I saw a young lady walk past me wearing a shirt very similar to the one shown above,
albeit with gold lettering.

I laughed to myself, laughing over how our words and their meanings have evolved
with our ever-evolving culture.

Back in the day…as in back in my younger days, the word dope was another word for drugs…
usually hard drugs such as heroin.

So to see such a current catchphrase used, as well as worn,
in reference to the great I AM left me a bit taken aback.

Is the name of God to be emblazoned, worn across the body in such a fashion?

Is Elohim, El Shaddai to be merchandised and blended into the current culture as
trendy high fashion?
Just another glittery hip-hop fashion statement??

I don’t know.

Whereas some would argue that wearing such a shirt is a good thing as it proclaims
that one is obviously some sort of unashamed “believer”…
and yet I am left wondering if it is not actually the making of God into something He is not…
that being small…

Making God fit into our idea rather than His idea…
an idea of what it is to be GOD…the great I AM…
or rather something that is simply, as we now say, dope.

Sigh.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14

fusion

“To join two things together there must be nothing between them or
there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(image from the Passion of the Christ)

The word fusion, according to Merriam Webster, is defined as a union by or as if by melting:
such as a: a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole

A merging of diverse, distinct, separate elements—
Merging…as in combining, blending, joining together… a union…
the binding of two pieces in order to become one.

That is what God desires…a fusion of created to Creator.

But this is actually more of a re-union…a re-joining of two who were long ago separated…
for, in the beginning, there was a union… but with man having chosen to defy the Creator…
the union was torn asunder.

Yet as St Catherine of Siena reminds us, God longs to be reunited…He longs for the two to
be fused back together…

However, for the fusion to hold, there can be nothing which exists in between…
there must be nothing.

Not the thinnest, smallest, tiniest or slightest separation…
not any passion, nor desire, nor want…nothing that we think we simply must have
can exist because if it does, we remain separate and not one.

And so as we read below an excerpt from the Catholic Catechism…
whether we be Catholic or not, we read that it is by Christ’s passion…
his sacrifice, his willingness to offer himself in place of our own damned fate
that we are able to be reunited.
He has fused himself to us as we are re-united in “his redemptive Passion.”
As He joins the Father, we in turn re-join the Father…

“Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.
He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing.
The sick try to touch him, ‘for power came forth from him and healed them all’.
And so in the sacraments Christ continues to ‘touch’ us in order to heal us.
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick,
but he makes their miseries his own:
‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’.
But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover.
On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and
took away the ‘sin of the world’, of which illness is only a consequence.
By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering:
it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.”

Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Chruch, pp.1504-05

the soul

The soul must forget about {understanding}, and abandon itself into the arms of love,
and His Majesty will teach it what to do next…

St Teresa of Avila


(blooming thrift / Julie Cook / 2018)

“The soul, who is lifted by a very great and yearning desire for the honor of God and the
salvation of souls, begins by exercising herself, for a certain space of time,
in the ordinary virtues, remaining in the cell of self-knowledge,
in order to know better the goodness of God towards her.

This she does because knowledge must precede love, and only when she has attained love,
can she strive to follow and to clothe herself with the truth.

But, in no way, does the creature receive such a taste of the truth,
or so brilliant a light therefrom, as by means of humble and continuous prayer,
founded on knowledge of herself and of God;
because prayer, exercising her in the above way, unites with God the soul that follows
the footprints of Christ Crucified, and thus, by desire and affection,
and union of love, makes her another Himself.”

St. Catherine of Siena,
An Excerpt From
Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

what matters most…

“In order to be an image of God, the spirit must turn to what is eternal,
hold it in spirit, keep it in memory, and by loving it, embrace it in the will.”

St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

“Listen with the ear of your heart.”
– St. Benedict of Nursia


(the Gulf of Mexico as seen from Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

There’s so much we could be chatting about.
So much to be talking about…
So much I’ve been thinking about.
Because if we just check in on the world, just the mere checking in swings wide the doors
of conversation both vast and far…

Yet today that all seems to be of little consequence.

However we do continue to get caught up in all of that, don’t we?

The ‘he said, she said’ of all things political, entertainment or merely worldly.
As we allow it to fuel our wrath, our angst, our sick perversions as we jump
on the neighboring soap boxes of others, prepared to pick up a sword and duel it out.

Such duels are done publically each and every day on the news just as duels are
done here in the blogosphere.
We trade jabs back and forth, parlaying a thrust here and an attack there to those we perceive
to be our enemies…

I’ve not watched much news this week–it’s been kind of nice missing out…
Yet I did catch a snippet of the breaking news out of Kentucky and of the high school shooting
which took place this past week—
a shooting that took the lives of two teenagers—while 12 others, I think, are now
suffering from their wounds…
All the while, a teenage gunman has been taken into custody—
As no motive has yet been shared.

I taught high school for over half my adult life…
After Columbine, I knew what it was like to always hold in the back of my mind the notion
that one day ‘one of ours’ could go off the deep end, or worse, someone from outside could go off
the deep end, coming inside to our world with that empty lostness,
that personification of evil, bringing that unseemingly senseless havoc into our world.

There is an utter helplessness when such happens.
Life stands still for the never-ending seconds while lives change forever.

And now that those seconds of change have passed, as lives are once again lost and changed,
the rest of us prepare to jump up on those boxes of ours with swords held high,
as we once again prepare to go to battle over mental health, gun control, safety,
security… on and on goes the list of ills…

But the bottom line is that lives are gone and lives are changed and people are hurting.

That’s the bottom line.

I was moved reading the tale today of the dad whose son was one of the two victims who lost
their young lives in that high school in Kentucky…

That dad raced to the high school and knew that the body on the stretcher being rushed from
the building was that of his son’s because he recognized the socks on the feet of the body
on the stretcher—because they were the socks he’d laid out the night before for his son
to put on the following morning.

I always made certain my son had his clothes laid out too—all through high school,
as I’d remind him, as he’d found himself too old for me to continue laying them out for him,
all so he wouldn’t have to rush around figuring out what to wear the next morning.

I wept for this father who was miraculously given the time to tell his dying son how much
he loved him.

I wept for the first responder mom who made her way to the school only to discover that her’s
was the son who was the shooter.

I wept for the family of the young lady also killed, just as I weep for the other victims in the
various hospitals.

I weep for all those who no longer have a sense of innocence or a sense of safety
or a sense of faith–as those things become victims as well.

I weep for all of us, for humankind, as we forget and are jolted back to reality as we
grapple with the understanding that we live in a broken and fallen world.

I weep because we have become so jaded by such stories that we can no longer weep but prefer rather
to immediately jump on the soapbox of battle.

Never mind the necessary mourning.
Never mind our pain, our sorrow, our brokenness…
For we have long decided that to deal with our mourning is to ignore our pain,
to ignore the hurt…

And maybe it will just go away.

There will be those rallying cries from those soapboxes,
that is if they haven’t already started crying—
that if we could just gather up every gun, identify every person before they are pushed one
step too far, if we could just do this or just do that…

But what we fail to grasp, is that life will always remain precarious.
Trgeday and Death will never leave us alone.
And none of us are exempt from the tears of sorrow…

I can only hope that in all of the sorrow, in all of the tragedies,
in all of the loss, be it public or private, that we will remember to find our compassion
at such times and not our hate.
That we can find our prayers and not our accusations and that we can remember to be the
the tangible and physical embodiment of God’s love offered freely to those who now hurt…

Since all our love for God is ultimately a response to His love for us, we can never love Him,
in the same way, He loves us, namely, gratuitously.
Since we are fundamentally dependent on God and in His debt for our creation and redemption,
our love is always owed to Him, a duty,
a response to His love. But we can love our neighbor in the same way that He loves us,
gratuitously—not because of anything the neighbor has done for us or because of anything
that we owe him, but simply because love has been freely given to us.
We thereby greatly please the Father.
God the Father tells Catherine [of Siena]: 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 without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself.
And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.”

– Ralph Martin, p. 261
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of all Desire

“Prayer is, as it were, being alone with God.
A soul prays only when it is turned toward God, and for so long as it remains so.
As soon as it turns away, it stops praying.
The preparation for prayer is thus the movement of turning to God and away from all
that is not God.
That is why we are so right when we define prayer as this movement.
Prayer is essentially a ‘raising up’, an elevation.
We begin to pray when we detach ourselves from created objects and raise
ourselves up to the Creator.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 91
An Excerpt From
The Prayer of the Presence of God

“We find rest in those we love,
and we provide a resting place for those who love us.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

no matter how you slice it….

God’s grace does not depend entirely on our efforts; in fact,
it depends very little on us.
We are simply the witnesses of grace,
and the clergy are simply the channels of sacramental grace.
How narrow-minded we would be to think that God’s grace is limited to our efforts”

Fr Benedict Groeschel


(meyer lemon / Julie Cook / 2017)

St Cahterine of Siena made a startling statement that I used to find overly severe.
She said that the Lord revealed to her that she was nothing and that He was everything.
Some of us learn the hard way…

Fr Benedict Groeshcel

No matter how you slice it, God’s Grace is sufficient…
It does not depend upon anything from us.

We will, however, never understand such until we empty ourselves of ourselves.

He is everything and we are nothing.
We are not gods.
We are not our god.
We do not impart saving Grace
We cannot and will not ever be able to save ourselves, from ourselves.
We are limited.
He is not…

Most of us never figure any of this out until it’s entirely too late.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power
is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9