Last night, I began to read The Dialogue by St. Catherine of Siena. This is quite possibly one of the greatest works of mystical literature written by one of the greatest women in Church history.
St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue is based on a series of petitions that she made to Our Lord. Our Lord speaks to her about many different things including the state of the Church and how it got there, the need for holy and zealous priests, and what true discernment is. In all of these revelations, Our Lord calls St. Catherine his daughter and spouse. Yet He is not only speaking to St. Catherine, but also to us about our own current situation and the different ways in which we find ourselves straying from Him.
At the outset of the book, Our Lord speaks a great deal about charity and what this means. Our Lord notes that our actions do not merely reflect on our own lives, but also on the lives of others. Many years ago, I read in a book that sin not only affects us on a personal level, but also on an interpersonal and even a global level.
Sometimes, it may not be easy for us to see what we are doing as being connected to an earthquake in Japan, a famine in Somalia, or a war in Iraq. Our sins, however, do contribute to these things. As Our Lady of La Salette revealed to Melanie and Maximin, there were many sins that were weighing down on Our Lord’s arm and that she could not hold it back from chastising the world. Those sins were not only the individual sins of those that were living at La Salette, but of entire countries and groups of people. Sin is something global and not individual. There is a reason why disasters strike people and, sometimes, it is because of our sins.
Our Lord revealed to St. Catherine of Siena that charity blots out all sin. For Our Lord, charity is the supreme virtue. As the Apostle wrote, “Charity covers a multitude of sins.” Yet charity should not be something that we do for our own sake or out of ostentatiousness. We should be charitable in a quiet manner without drawing attention to ourselves. Our lives should be lived quietly and humbly. There should be nothing that makes us stand out from other people except for the fact that we love them that much more and we are willing to suffer almost anything that God will deign to send us.
Our Lord revealed to St. Catherine that humility and charity go hand in hand. You cannot separate one from the other. All of the virtues are connected with each other. You may ask, “But how is it that someone is much more pure and that another has more fortitude?” Our Lord told St. Catherine that the different virutes are giving in accordance with the different dispositions which people may have. Yet it is also God’s will that they excell in one virtue and by excelling in that one, they excell in all.
There is a great deal more that Our Lord told St. Catherine in the opening pages of this book. Yet it seems to me that our interconnectedness to each other is something that came to me as a revelation. While I understood the doctrine that we are all members of One Body, I never realized how interconnected we are and how our least actions affect things on a global scale. If anything, the pages that I read allowed me to reassess where I am right now and what I should do in my life in order to help change the world.
The thing of it also is that St. Catherine of Siena’s book is not the easiest book of mystical literature to read. I never really got into it the first time that I read it. I must confess that I was downright frustrated because of all the layers and repetition. As I sat there on the couch last night, however, I felt that I was not reading a mere book. I felt that God was speaking to me in my inmost being about those things that are necessary for my salvation. Those things that I must do to myself in order to change the world.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!