THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: EXPERIENCING THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE MYSTICAL LIFE OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena.
Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep
St. Catherine of Siena, a laywoman, a mystic and a Doctor of the Church was blessed with extraordinary experiences. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints appeared to her from the time she was six. She assisted the Church in many ways especially the papacy. She was instrumental to the return of the Pope from Avignon, France to Rome during the great schism in the West. God the Father spoke to her as a dear friend, God the Son gave her His stigmata and God the Holy Spirit communicated with her in a mystical way. Indeed she is another great teacher in the school of the Holy Spirit.
St. Catherine teaches that we should build a cell inside our minds, from which we can never flee. In her own inner cell, her father was made as the representation of Christ, her mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her brothers the apostles. She was able to establish her inner cell for God by praying to the Holy Spirit to come into her heart. Scripture says the Spirit of God prays in us and like St. Catherine we need to call on the Holy Spirit to take charge of our hearts and pray in and through us (Rom. 8:26-27)
St. Catherine of Siena had many ecstatic visions in which she communicated with the Trinity, and she made four requests to God the Father for herself, for the Church, for the world, and for assurance of His divine providence to provide for all things. The responses came from God in four treatises of over two hundred pages on divine providence, discretion, prayer, and obedience that became her spiritual legacies – The Dialogue of Divine Providence.
As a great Catholic mind, St. Catherine of Siena was powerfully endowed with the Holy Spirit and she manifested the Holy Spirit in her life through her gift of mysticism. Mysticism is a singular and special way of life in the very heart of the Church that St. Catherine through the Holy Spirit and her personal holiness gave to the Church.
Mysticism is perfectly uniting with and to God by grace in vision and love. It is a height of love for God. It is a chief means to attain our ultimate goal in the spiritual life – union with God. However, modern Christians are scared or ashamed or embarrassed by the mentioning of mysticism. For some they liken mysticism to witchcraft and for some it is so strange field that should be dreaded. While we enjoy more tangible blessings, more freedom and more opportunities to attain union with God, we must watch against the current moral murkiness, relativism and minimalism that are besieging us and embrace the unconditional love that St. Catherine had for God and the mystical life.
- Differentiate between mysticism and witchcraft
- We are called to be saints and many, if not all saints are mystics. Pray to the Holy Spirit for His gift of mysticism and the mystical way of life.
Prayer to the Holy Ghost by Saint Catherine of Siena
Holy Spirit, come into my heart; draw it to Thee by Thy power, O my God, and grant me charity with filial fear. Preserve me, O ineffable Love, from every evil thought; warm me, inflame me with Thy dear love, and every pain will seem light to me. My Father, my sweet Lord, help me in all my actions. Jesus, love, Jesus, love. Amen.
ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA – PRAY FOR US TO EXPERIENCE GLOBAL HEALING AS WE BATTLE WITH COVID-19 AND OTHER PROBLEMS. AMEN.