In her mystical experiences, Catherine never received specific revelations on Purgatory or on the souls being purified there. She did not see Purgatory as a place of transit in the depths of the earth: it is not an exterior fire, but an interior fire. She did not use the hereafter as a basis to recount the torments of purgatory and then show the way to purification and conversion; rather, she began from the interior experience of man on his journey towards eternity.
Catherine of Genoa
VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - During Wednesday's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 9,000 faithful, Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510), author of two books: "Treatise on Purgatory" and "Dialogues on the Soul and the Body".
Catherine received a good Christian education in the home before marrying at the age of sixteen, although her married life was not an easy one. At first she led a worldly existence which caused her a profound sense of emptiness and bitterness however, following a unique spiritual experience which made her aware of her own misery and defects and, at the same time, of the goodness of God, she decided to change her life and to begin a journey of purification and mystical communion with the Lord. "The place of her ascent to the mystical heights was the hospital of Pammatone, the largest in Genoa, of which she was director", said the Pope.
"The period between her conversion and her death was not marked by extraordinary events", said the Holy Father, "but two elements characterized her entire life: on the one hand, mystical experience, profound union with God and, ... on the other, service to others, especially the most needy and abandoned".
"We must never forget", he went on, "that the more we love God and remain constant in our prayers, the more we will truly manage to love those around us, because in each individual we will see the face of the Lord, Who loves without limit or distinction".
Benedict XVI then went on to refer to the works of the saint, recalling how, "in her mystical experiences, Catherine never received specific revelations on Purgatory or on the souls being purified there". She did not see Purgatory "as a place of transit in the depths of the earth: it is not an exterior fire, but an interior fire". She did not use the hereafter as a basis "to recount the torments of purgatory and then show the way to purification and conversion; rather, she began from the interior experience of man on his journey towards eternity".
Thus, for Catherine, "the soul is aware of God's immense love and perfect justice; as a consequence, it suffers for not having responded to that love perfectly, and it is precisely the love of God Himself which purifies the soul from the ravages of sin".
This mystical saint from Genoa used an image typical of Dionysus the Areopagite: the thread of gold linking the human heart to God, said the Pope. "In this way the heart of man is inundated with the love of God, which becomes his only guide, the only driving force in his life. This situation of elevation towards God and abandonment to His will, as expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of divine light on the souls in Purgatory, a light which purifies and raises them towards the splendor of the dazzling rays of God".
"In their experience of union with God, saints achieve so profound an 'understanding' of the divine mysteries, in which love and knowledge almost become one, that they can even help theologians in their studies", said the Pope.
"St. Catherine's life teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimate contact with Him through prayer, the more He makes Himself known and enflames our hearts with His love. By writing about Purgatory, the saint reminds us of a fundamental truth of the faith which becomes an invitation for us to pray for the dead, that they may achieve the blessed vision of God in the communion of the saints".
And Benedict XVI concluded: "The saint's lifelong humble, faithful and generous service in the hospital of Pammatone is a shining example of charity towards everyone, and a special encouragement for women who make a fundamental contribution to society and the Church with their precious efforts, enriched by their sensitivity and the care they show towards the poorest and those most in need".
By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)
If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His blessings. If you are not American, today's holiday is a reminder that God deserves thanks from all His creation. We pray you will ... continue reading
By Billy Atwell
In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October 17, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch. St. Ignatius of Antioch is a bishop and martyr of the Church who died in the ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
There is so much to write about in this marvelous account of the life of one of my own personal heroes, the saint whose witness led me back to the Church, Francis of Assisi. However, I will focus on one aspect of Bonaventure's tribute to Francis. He was his ... continue reading
By Youngsun Jun
Though I am not strong enough to hold the suffering souls in my arms and carry them home, I can do one thing: I can pray for the deliverance of the souls who are in the darkness. I can request help from the angels for them. I can make a 911 call for them. So again, I ... continue reading
By Deacon F. K. Bartels
The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading
By Matt Hicks
Miraculous testimony of an elite level gymnast touched by Padre Pio: 'Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. God sends them, as He pushes us forward, ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
There is confusion over the proper title of Mother Teresa. Her name is appearing in the media as both "Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta" and "Mother Teresa of Kolkata," sometimes written with the word "Mother" and sometimes without. Which is correct? LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The saints are real and active in our lives. This is more obvious than ever following the miraculous recovery of a baby in an Irish intensive care unit. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A relic of Saint Padre Pio has been credited with a dramatic improvement in ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
In her convent of San Damiano, Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity. Her fame of sanctity and the prodigies that came about thanks to her intervention led Pope ... continue reading
By Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck
August 9 is the Memorial of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz. In this sketch, Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck, Jewish born priest and Chair of the National Pro-Life Center (Washington, DC), examines the ... continue reading