Around August 15th, about the time the news broke out on Cardinal McCarrick and the priest sex abuse scandal, I had just received my copy of ‘The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena. For some reason, right before this horrific news hit, I felt compelled to read it. Even though I have read many books on St. Catherine, this one I hadn’t. This book is the one big source to her total being. It is odd to me that I hadn’t read it and yet now was the most perfect time to read it.
Quite frankly, I wish I could post a pic of each page and upload her text so you can just skip what I have to say about it and read what was written.
For those who don’t know about this book or St. Catherine, her life’s purpose in a nutshell had to do with reform of the Church. This book is the essential piece to the work she performed to help rid the Church of bad clergy. Much of St. Catherine’s life was a selfless act of humility and servitude. All she wanted was for others to come to Christ and to defend the Church. Two things I hold dear in my heart. However, I am no way near selflessness. But thanks to God, through St. Catherine, He used her at a time when much revolt was occurring and educated her to evangelize the masses during it.
St. Catherine was gifted with such openness to have our Father God speak to her. With that, he gave her multiple “talks” on how to respond, how to pray, what to teach/pass on, how to stay on course of the faith, etc. during the time of purging and restoration.
The dialogue is based on “bad clergy” and Our Lord’s response to that. He often refers to them not as bad clergy but priests who rather “self love” than to love God.
God’s speech to St. Catherine defines who follows Christ and those who don’t. He points out to her what He sees in both.
This excerpt is identifying those who are full of self love. From the book: “…nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his Profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body, but not on his heart.”
Father God shares with St. Catherine that there are priests performing evil acts. Some so far into it, they can’t even turn away or find God’s mercy. So they continue to stay in their sin and filth. He instructs St. Catherine to pray for them. Pray they come to ask for God’s mercy before they die and how worse is it for a Priest to commit their abuse and never have asked God for forgiveness then for anyone who has committed the same abuse.
He goes onto telling St. Catherine that as much as we despise these “priests” who are causing evil in the Church and letting it fester, that we not lose sight that they are still Priests. To not slander their name or mock them. But to instead pray. To remember, they are priests and that they are His.
He tells her: ” You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are my Christ’s, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”
After I read this, I completely understood it. It hit my soul….”of course.” These Priests are under attack. And some weak, they don’t even know it anymore. There are layers to these crimes committed and are being committed and who they affect.
Vow, Priest, sin, (mercy) >>>Church, Eucharist, faithful, (salvation).
It is not that Our Lord does not want us to be angry at what they’ve done, but to center on the problem that is causing this awful sin and that is the Devil himself. The devil and all darkness is whom we are fighting.
The words and imagery used by Our Lord to St. Catherine speak with love and ferocity. His words are nothing but love and how awful it is for those who lose sight of it. What happens to us when we lose sight of Christ in our lives? Our world becomes foggy, we become clouded by our sin, our hearts are clogged.
This book came at the right time. And since, I keep seeing clergy to the faithful, refer to St. Catherine as a reference on how to go forward. She is thrust out on the forefront again. Rallying the faithful to stop and recognize who we are in this fight against the evil that is in the Church by those who for far too long have kept it hidden. The struggle seems the same but it is new to us. The push to make change or to put an end to the darkness is slowing happening. The task seems overwhelming. But if we take into account, this book, and its bits of instruction, we can plow through. Let’s stay on the Ship.
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. +++