Thursday, December 5, 2013


St. Catherine of Siena was a renowned Dominican who lived in the northern Italian city of Siena.  She was a fearless papal counselor, and eventually a stigmatist.  She died in 1380, and was declared a Doctor of the Church because of her keen intellect.

This piece appeared today in Magnificat [1] and I found it to have great insights when any of us finds our self in the midst of adversity.  I pray that you will find it useful on your own spiritual journey:

Virtue is proved in difficulty just as gold is proved in fire.  For if in difficulties we were to give no genuine proof of patience but try to avoid the difficulty...this would be a clear sign that we were not serving our Creator, that we were not letting ourselves be governed by him in accepting humbly and with love whatever our Lord gives us. 

It would not give evidence of faith that we are loved by our Lord.  For if we truly believed this, we could never find a stumbling block in anything.  We would value and reverence the hand that offers the bitterness of adversity as much as the hand that offers prosperity and consolation, because we would see that everything is done out of love.

The very fact of our not seeing this would demonstrate that we had become servants of our selfish sensuality and spiritual self-will, and that we had made these our Lord and were therefore letting ourselves be governed by them.

Since this servitude to the world and to our spiritually selfish will is deadly, we must flee from it.  It gets in the way of perfection, keeps us from being free servants of God.  It makes us want to serve God in our own way rather than God's--which is not right and makes our service mercenary.  So much evil comes of this!

I tell you, then, we must follow this way and teaching that he has given us.  God wants to do everything by using intermediaries.  We see clearly that we were not created by ourselves but that God himself made his charity an intermediary.  By means of his pure love he created us in his image and likeness so that we might share in and enjoy the eternal sight of him.  

But we lost this through the selfish love and sin of our first father.  So to give us back what we had lost, God gave us his Son as intermediary, and this mediator took on the blows [in our place]--since the war [between us and God] had been so great that there was no other way this peace could have been made.

Why?  Because the infinite God had  been offended, and finite humankind who had sinned could never, by any suffering they might have borne, have made satisfaction to the dear infinite God.

So the blazing depth of God's charity found a way to make this peace.

May we all find this a wonderful meditation and reflection throughout our Advent and Christmas season!

[1]  Magnificat is a monthly small booklet which offers various Catholic prayers, the Mass formularies for each day of the month, and many other spiritual insights for all of us.  Their website: