St. Catherine of Siena here shares a prophetic message that underlines the boundless generosity and providence of God the Father, the giver of all good gifts. We, through sin, tragically twist these gifts, designed to be life-giving, so as to make them cruel instruments of death and suffering. Original Sin is presented as a poison that spread through the human race. Jesus’ act of love & obedience on the cross is shown to be the antidote.
The eternal Father, indescribably kind and tender, turned his eye to this soul and spoke to her thus:
God’s Mercy shown in his Providence
‘O dearest daughter, I have determined to show my mercy and loving kindness to the world, and I choose to provide for mankind all that is good. But man, ignorant, turns into a death-giving thing what I gave in order to give him life. Not only ignorant, but cruel: cruel to himself. But still I go on providing. For this reason I want you to know: whatever I give to man, I do it out of my great providence.
‘So it was that when, by my providence, I created man, I looked into myself and fell in love with the beauty of the creature I had made – for it had pleased me, in my providence, to create man in my own image and likeness.
The gifts of Memory & Intellect
‘Moreover, I gave man memory, to be able to remember the good things I had done for him and to be able to share in my own power, the power of the eternal Father.
‘Moreover, I gave man intellect, so that, seeing the wisdom of my Son, he could recognize and understand my own will; for I am the giver of all graces and I give them with a burning fatherly love.
Love & the Tenderness of the Holy Spirit
‘Moreover, I gave man the desire to love, sharing in the tenderness of the Holy Spirit, so that he might love the things that his intellect had understood and seen.
‘But my kind providence did all this solely that man might be able to understand me and enjoy me, rejoicing in my vision for all eternity. And as I have told you elsewhere, the disobedience of your first parent Adam closed heaven to you – and from that disobedience came all evil through the whole world.
Christ’s Death, the antidote to the Poison of Sin
‘To relieve man of the death that his own disobedience had brought, I tenderly and providently gave you my only-begotten Son to heal you and bring satisfaction for your needs. I gave him the task of being supremely obedient, to free the human race of the poison that your first parent’s disobedience had spread throughout the world. Falling in love, as it were, with his task, and truly obedient, he hurried to a shameful death on the most holy Cross. By his most holy death he gave you life: not human life this time, but with the strength of his divinity.
This excerpt comes from the Dialogue (Cap. 134) of St. Catherine of Siena. It focuses on the generosity of God, the giver of all good gifts and the poison of original sin which turns gifts of life into tools of death. It appears in the Roman Catholic Divine Office of Readings for Saturday of the the 30th Week in Ordinary Time. The accompanying biblical reading comes from Wisdom 11:20-12:19. St. Catherine of Siena, a third order Dominican, died in the 14th century and is one of the few women to be proclaimed a doctor of the church.