The participants in my Praying with the Mystics retreat in daily living are ending their retreat experience with Catherine of Siena, the first woman named as a doctor of the Catholic Church. She had a deep and intimate friendship with God and was fully open to hearing His Word.
Most of what we know about the fruits of Catherine’s prayer life comes from a work titled The Dialogue, which Catherine started writing two years before her death, and which is now considered a classic of Western spirituality. The work records a series of questions she put to God and God’s responses to her.
One of the recurring themes of The Dialogue is God’s deep love for humanity. In words that call to mind the beginning of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Scriptures, God tells Catherine, “I loved you before you came into being.” Here are the words God spoke to Catherine:
It was with providence that I created you, and when I contemplated my creature in myself I fell in love with the beauty of my creation. It pleased me to create you in my image and likeness with great providence. I provided you with the gift of memory so that you might hold fast my benefit and be made a sharer in my own, the eternal Father’s power. I gave you understanding so that in the wisdom of my only-begotten Son you might comprehend and know what I the eternal Father want, I who gave you graces with such burning love. I gave you a will to love, making you a sharer in the Holy Spirit’s mercy, so that you might love what your understanding sees and knows. All this my gentle providence did, only that you might be capable of understanding and enjoying me and rejoicing in my goodness by seeing me eternally.
All of us are made to rejoice in God’s love forever. And so God’s words are written to each us. Give yourself the gift of listening to God speak them to you.
During our final retreat meeting on Tuesday, I recorded my introductory talk on Catherine of Siena. You can download or listen to the podcast (which runs for 16:15) here.