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A Compilation of Extracts from the Letters of St Catherine of Siena by Biancamaria Stanzani Ghedini
1. Love run! run! run along the road of love! the soul cannot live without love the soul always always enlivens itself in union with the object that it loves and into which it changes itself because the soul always takes on that which is in the beloved object but if our animating principle is not clear of self-love and self-complacency it will never achieve true and perfect love love The Life-Giving Way not the earthly things of the world one is the opposite of the other one gives death and the other life
one darkness and the other light one war and the other peace one constrains your heart and the other enlarges it welcoming into itself friends and enemies i beg you … beg you! seek to have this love in you follow the life-giving road with true and real virtues bind yourselves to your neighbour by loving deeds with enough fire of love hardness of heart dissolves no need of anything other than love you cannot get love except from love. with light love rises to draw love to itself never aim at getting any recognition either for lowliness or for greatness either for legitimacy or illegitimacy the life-giving road never put off nor ever puts off anyone of any condition nor of another generation neither saints nor sinners but welcomes with love all creatures equally 2 .
self-love is rigid. one will not be righteous but rather will commit many injustices and iniquities pandering to one’s own pleasure or that of others and so they will grow in their vices and their malice everything can only be properly done 3 . that moves away like the wind oh how much harm is done by such a perverse love to temporal and spiritual lords and to their subjects! if one is a prelate. distances itself from justice commits iniquities. one will never admonish anyone out of fear of losing one’s prelature or displeasing one’s subordinates if one is a temporal lord. is slavish and cowardly if one loves with a prickly self-love one is soon enslaved by fear one will have placed one’s love and hope in something weak that is unsteady in itself and wobbly.
if done with reverence and love not in hate since love is brighter than any light let us with manly heart detach ourselves from the earthly things of this world let us for a little while seek immortal goods abandoning the earth with all its stench let us seek heaven we were not made to maintain ourselves on earth we are in this life as pilgrims always running with true and real virtues towards our destination: eternal life it is right and fitting that whoever receives this love should also himself impart it precisely what is done by those who follow the way of truth with affectionate love they will have the eye of their intellect opened they will recognize their own non-being they will recognize the life-giving road you may tell me: once I do not have love and without love I cannot get along what can I do to have it? 4 .
he will find it in himself how? by recognizing his own non-being by seeing he has no being of his own he will rediscover its source as well as the origins of the life-giving road run! run! run along this road the road of love in truth 2.father of lies 5 . that is want to love so he will open wide the eye of understanding see where love is to be found and how it is to be found.i tell you this: love is only acquired through love for this reason whoever wants to be loved should first himself love. Compassion moved by compassion for your souls not wanting you to dally in dismal darkness i bestirred myself to invite you kindly to these glorious nuptial festivities compassion arouse out of my impression that the way of truth is blocked in you the silt of hatred settled deep inside the way of lies made by the devil .
to gape wide and open within you abandon the murky way completely making peace with your neighbour returning to The Life-Giving Way listen to the voice of true compassion The Life-Giving Way is calling you to great perfection and you have at last become aware of it He has removed every bond that might have prevented it even the very last link with earthly things .all of which has made me very happy now i wish that you so cut down your self-will that it remain detached from everything other than The Life-Giving Road he is truly mad and foolish whoever wishes to order creation his own capricious way whoever is shocked by someone not acting according to his advice he who is perfect in compassion is also humble: by not counting too much upon himself he places himself on dry and sound footing 6 .
and profits from it even if seemingly sterile it yields him fruit What is the proof of this? It takes patience to be able to see virtue brought to perfection.he is not scandalized by his neighbour neither because of injury done to him nor because of different ways and customs by virtue of the compassion in his soul he enjoys everything. because you are just like me because you are not less than everyone else all of us committed to know ourselves thoroughly so that we can thoroughly know The LifeGiving Road because all of us have been enlightened on this score let us begin to give up judging our neighbour let us instead love friends and enemies alike since even they are creatures endowed with reason 7 . impatience can only show up virtue in half-baked condition i ask you therefore.
let us wish them survival and ultimate safe arrival let us wrack our brains muster all our resources to bear with them even when their defects shriek in our ears. hating the vice in them but not themselves if you see the world persecuting those who love truth inflicting upon them many injuries and insults if there never was a time in the world’s entire history with such a dire need of compassion as today and if today the world waddles in bitter darkness it is because a murky cloud of selfishness has poisoned and corrupted its inhabitants … only the patient can have perfect compassion and having perfect compassion truly grieve over evil with greater grief over outwardly observed ills than over one’s own inner sorrows and tribulations 8 .
i say nothing more 3. take comfort without any slavish fear fear nothing you see coming or that has come take comfort because you are approaching perfection The Life-Giving Road casts away the load and weight laid upon us by the wealthy world of pleasures and the more it feels itself deprived of them the greater its capacity to generate enjoyment becomes 9 . Joy joy! joy! joy! because you share in the faith that gives happiness and makes the soul rejoice joy! joy! joy! whether you have to stand still or move let your cogitations come to roost at this point: He made us to savour His supreme and eternal beauty enjoy and exult. because our wishes will be fulfilled enjoy and exult.
happiness and every consolation they are deprived of all that smacks of sadness and i am not surprised enjoy and exult with holy and agreeable exercises for the constant purification of our conscience with good cheer let us multiply life: joy! joy! joy! 4.those who walk along The Life-Giving Road have peace and delight. Selflessness no more war! i call upon you: peace! peace! peace! but true peace can only be the offspring of selflessness! can we make it when mired so deeply in war? i see no other way than that of self-denial the only way to peace for all who are at war may there be peace today in truth! therefore act! Be manly! shout it out as strongly as you can 10 .
without wasting any time. immediately! peace! no more war on earth! with manly heart let us be selfless and let us make peace in the world how? by rejecting from within ourselves the desire of death the relish of darkness let us stop behaving like fools with cowardly hearts let us not make battle or war except against ourselves when our hearts are caught in the folds of fatal obscurity when and where we should bond together in selflessness we cut ourselves from each other in hatred and rancour i beg you therefore: open your eyes! because this is the work of the devil in time of peace pitting us one against the other to make us persist in incessant war as soon as peace is made 11 .
not death clothe us and make us satisfied with the clothes of selflessness make humankind secure in its humanity i beg you ardently to make yourselves tools and agents of peace-mongering let a famished yearning for peace expel and defeat the lure of war i beg you to consider accurately that it is in your power to bring about peace and to live in peace in body and soul not to endanger yourselves and the earth in truth it does not seem to me that war is such a pleasant experience that we should carry on with it when we can spell out its end is there anything more pleasing than peace? certainly not! may the ruin brought upon us by war be turned into peace true peace from war you will come to the greatest peace from mutual persecution to the greatest unity 12 .the sun will shine sweet and soft give us light and warmth.
not by self inflation but by virtue of selflessness so you will overcome the army of visible demons and the hidden propagators of iniquity you will remove from within yourselves as much as possible the root cause of war and you will come to the greatest peace i beg you again: wrack your brains in word and deed to prove that you want peace and not war consider therefore how much destruction of souls and bodies there has been how many holy persons women and children have been ill treated and driven into despair by this un-necessary war! by these wars! think: if you do not do what you can of how much harm you will be the cause of this you should feel ashamed! you and the other Christian gentlemen it is greatly confusing in the eyes of men that war is waged against brothers let us put an end to foolishness and blindness do not delay to make a global peace may patience overcome impatience 13 .
tranquility . Serenity quietness .by the love of The Life-Giving Road! may it win in truth today you need this: a person who is a master of peace not war no more war! peace! peace! peace! 5.spirituality: it is good and true that you O Life-Giving Way put our conscience at rest our soul at peace restore tranquility of mind by removing the ill-will and ill-wind that generates tempests 14 .
no bitterness no sadness no wretchedness will befall the soul anymore there will only be tranquility serenity quietness our consolation is The Life-Giving Road so kind and so enlightening that whoever follows it never tumbles into darkness it is good to give and to have life following the example of the master of truth not to care about honour or shame whichever the world chooses to give us i am sure that if you put on the new man and divest yourself of the old you will be deprived yes I tell you deprived of slavish fear and of slavish servitude hence of the shame and bitterness that is in you and if you ask me: does not man have in this life any lordship? i will reply: yes he has the sweetest the most gracious and the most powerful of all things that can be and that is the city of his soul 15 .
there is nothing greater than The Life-Giving Road in it one finds serenity and quietness in it one finds consolation goodness truth savour quietness of mind put away self-will grounded in pride follow The Life-Giving Road in tranquility and serenity follow it follow it 16 .