The student brothers are on retreat the week of August 11-15. Rather than leave the blog dormant, we offer you reflections by and about various Dominican saints for your meditation. Regular blogging will resume on August 18. In the meantime, please remember us in your prayers and be assured of our prayers for you.
From a Letter of Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin, to Christophora, Prioress of the Monastery of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano
In the name of Jesus Christ crucified, and of sweet Mary:
To my very dear daughter in Christ, the sweet Jesus, I, Catherine, minister and servant of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood. I desire to see you and your sisters follow in the footsteps of our holy mother Agnes.
I implore you and I wish you to follow her teaching and her character. For you know that she always gave you the teaching and example of true humility. This was her chief virtue. I am not surprised by this in the least, for she had what a bride must have who wishes to follow the humility of her spouse. She had that uncreated charity that continually burned and consumed her heart. She had the taste and hunger for souls, and always applied herself to keeping vigil in prayer. There is no other way of acquiring the virtue of humility, because there is no humility without charity, and the one nourishes the other.
Do you know what made her arrive at a perfect and authentic virtue? It was free and voluntary self-denial, which made her renounce herself and the goods of this world, not wishing to possess anything. This glorious virgin realized that the possession of temporal good leads one to pride. One loses the sweet virtue of true humility, falls into self-love, loses the warmth of charity and abandons the habit of watching and praying. A heart and senses full of this world and of self-love are unable to be filled with Christ crucified and cannot taste true and sweet prayer. Seeing this, Agnes put off herself and put on the crucified Christ. This was not only for herself, but also for us. Her example obliges you to it, and you must follow it.
You know well, consecrated brides of Christ, that it is not what comes from your father that you are supposed to possess. Since you have a spouse, you have to guard and possess what comes from your eternal spouse. What you have from your father is your sensuality, which we have to abandon when the moment has come to follow Christ and to possess his treasure. What was the treasure of Christ crucified? The Cross, disgrace, pain, torment, torture, mockery and reproaches, voluntary poverty, hunger for the Father’s honor and for our salvation.
If you possess this treasure with the force of your reason, moved by the fire of charity, you will arrive at that virtue of which we have spoken. You will be true daughters of your mother, and eager and watchful brides. You will merit to be received by Christ crucified. By his grace, he will open to you the door of a life that does not end. I will not say any more. Wash yourselves in the blood of Christ crucified. Arise, full of zeal and love. If you are united and not divided, there will be no demon, no creature, that can harm you or hinder your perfection. Abide in the sweet and holy love of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus my love.
Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Good Shepherd