Incarnation, Gift of Immeaurable Love — Catherine of Siena

My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church – my sin and the sins of others.

It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures.

 

This excert from the Dialogue (4, 13) of St. Catherine of Siena on the bonds of love evident in the gift of the Incarnation, is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time with the accompanying biblical reading taken from Hosea 11:1-11. 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.

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Catherine of Siena, St.

Catherine was born in the middle of the 14th Century in the Tuscan city of Siena. From her earliest years at home she appears to have received visions and lived a life of strict prayer and penance. At the age of 16, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and gave herself to contemplation, the service of the needy, and the reconciliation of sinners. After traveling to Avignon to plead with Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, she returned to Siena where people of all classes of society gathered around her because of her great sanctity. She is known for her extraordinary devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus as well as for her book The Dialogue, which is one of the great spiritual classics of the Latin Middle Ages. She died in 1380, was canonized in 1461, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970.