The Broken Mystic (For the Feast of Catherine of Siena)

Oh, wretched man, the darkness of self-love does not let thee know this truth. For didst thou know it, thou wouldst choose any pain rather than guide thy life in this way; thou wouldst give thee to loving and desiring Him who Is; thou wouldst enjoy His truth in firmness, and wouldst not move about like a leaf in the wind; thou wouldst serve thy Creator, and wouldst love everything in Him, and apart from Him nothing.
(From the letters of Catherine of Siena, translated by Vida Dutton Scudder)
The life she lived
went further than is comfortable,
both for our reason and our flesh:
giving up both that which we greedily crave and that
which our Father knows we all need.
She gave up food
yet drank the discharge of the sick,
fed only on illness and the sacraments.
She took no comfort from the food of earth
and craved only the things above.
We rightly cringe at what
we know now to be sickness, not piety.
We shake at views she held which now
bring to mind the farthest flung
extremities of the Christian galaxy.
And yet she knew what we deny:
that we who love our bodies and
our comforts more than our creator
can only blow about like leaves
and leave behind the firmness of
His ground which bids us stand upon
Him alone and nothing else, and
His love which makes us hate our lives
so we might love as He has loved
and die and live as He has done.

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