Jesus in your heart! Eternity in your mind! The will of God in all your actions! But above all, love, God’s love, entire love!
– St. Catherine of Genoa
St. Catherine of Genoa’s life is one that testified to the power that regular confessions and frequent Communion can have in helping us see the direction (or drift) of our life with God. Isn’t it interesting that people who have a realistic sense of their own sinfulness and of the greatness of God are often the ones who are most ready to meet the needs of their neighbors. Catherine’s life testifies to that as well. She’s best known for her “Treatise on Purgatory” . She gave tirelessly to the needs of the poor and sick. Beautiful, married young to…well, should we be charitable and say…”an unpleasant fellow ” (Ok, he was a jerk) at 16. During the course of ten years within the marriage, Catherine began to slowly slide into worldliness, not necessarily a sinful life, but not the one of holiness she had desired before her marriage. And then it happened, Catherine experienced a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit in a dramatic life-changing mystical moment at the age of 26. Again you can read more about in “Treatise on Purgatory“. Her life of prayer and service to the poor and needy would effect her husband as well; his conversion is a strong testament to the fruits of her relationship with God. She reminds me a little of Mother Teresa, in that her deep, deep prayer led her to serve Him in those around her.
“Since I began to love, love has never forsaken me. It has ever grown to its own fullness within my innermost heart.” – St. Catherine of Genoa. And it’s true…God is love, expand and make more room for Him and He will fill the space.
From Approved Apparitions:
“Catherine lived in holy obedience to God as He guided her to do His Will as He spoke to her interior,
“My daughter, observe these three rules, namely: never say I will or I will not. Never say mine, but always ours. Never excuse yourself, but always accuse yourself. When you repeat the `Our Father’ take always for your maxim, Fiat voluntas tua, that is, may his will be done in everything that may happen to you, whether good or ill; from the `Hail Mary’ take the word Jesus, and may it be implanted in your heart, and it will be a sweet guide and shield to you in all the necessities of life. And from the rest of Scripture take always for your support this word, Love, with which you will go on your way, direct, pure, light, watchful, quick, enlightened, without erring, yet without a guide or help from any creature; for love needs no support, being sufficient to do all things without fear; neither does love ever become weary, for even martyrdom is sweet to it. And, finally, this love will consume all the inclinations of the soul, and the desires of the body, for the things of this life.”Though Catherine lived a life of austere penance she did so for she understood how deadly is sin to the soul as a child of God can quickly turn to become a child of the Devil, if they choose to willfully disobey God through their actions. As Catherine explained, “If it were possible for me to suffer as much as all the martyrs have suffered, and even hell itself, for the love of God, and in order to make satisfaction to him, it would be after all only a sort of injury to God, in comparison with the love and goodness with which he has created, and redeemed, and, in a special manner, called me. For man, unassisted by God’s grace, is even worse than the devil, because the devil is a spirit without a body, while man, without the grace of God, is a devil incarnate. Man has a free will, which, according to the ordination of God, is in nowise bound, so that he can do all the evil that he wills; to the devil, this is impossible, since he can act only by the divine permission; and when man surrenders to him his evil will, the devil employs it, as the instrument of his temptation.”.
But it is the explanation upon seeing the Holy Souls in Purgatory that this great Saint is well known for in her own words she describes the state of Purgatory as such, “The souls in Purgatory see all things, not in themselves, nor by themselves, but as they are in God, on whom they are more intent than on their own sufferings. . . . For the least vision they have of God overbalances all woes and all joys that can be conceived. Yet their joy in God does by no means abate their pain. . . . This process of purification to which I see the souls in Purgatory, subjected, I feel within myself.”
And to stress her point that it is the soul who chooses to do evil for Satan cannot infringe on man’s free will, Catherine went on to explain this in her words, “I see that whatever is good in myself, in any other creature, or in the saints, is truly from God; if, on the other hand, I do any thing evil, it is I alone who do it, nor can I charge the blame of it upon the devil or upon any other creature; it is purely the work of my own will, inclination, pride, selfishness, sensuality, and other evil dispositions, without the help of God I should never do any good thing. So sure am I of this, that if all the angels of heaven were to tell me I have something good in me, I should not believe them. So long as any one can speak of divine things, enjoy and understand them, remember and desire them, he has not yet arrived in port; yet there are ways and means to guide him thither. But the creature can know nothing but what God gives him to know from day to day, nor can he comprehend beyond this, and at each instant remains satisfied with what he receives. If the creature knew the height to which God is prepared to raise him in this life, he would never rest, but on the contrary would feel a certain craving, a vehement desire to reach quickly that ultimate perfection, and would think himself in hell until he had obtained it.”
.“Through the words of this great Saint and the Gift that God had Graced her, we have gained a better understanding of the graphic damage that sin can do to a soul and also how the soul can be restored back to God’s Loving embrace through participation of the Sacraments. We also understand how God can transform a soul to be a divine reflection of Himself when the soul surrenders itself to the Triune Spirit. And through the works of Saint Catherine we also understand Purgatory and the Holy Souls who wait to be released into Heaven by our prayers and penances and when we offer up a Mass for the repose of their soul as these Holy souls endure the purgation of Purgatory, as they thirst to be re-united with God in Heaven.May we reflect deeply on the messages of Saint Catherine of Genoa and how God illuminated her soul so as to instruct the faithful.” – Approved Apparitions
Fr. Benedict Groeschel has edited a book on the writings St. Catherine of Genoa…check it out