April 29, 2016: St. Catherine of Siena
God has loved us without being loved, but we love him because we are loved…we cannot profit him, nor love him with this first love…In what way can we do this, then, since he demands it and we cannot give it to him? I tell you…we can be useful, not to him, which is impossible, but to our neighbor…love is gained in love by raising the eye of our mind to behold how much we are loved by God. Seeing ourselves loved, we cannot otherwise than love.” – Letter to Brother Bartolomeo Dominici
Love transforms. St. Catherine states that “love transforms one into what one loves” (Dialogue 60). In loving God, we become like the one we love. When two things are joined together, there can’t be anything between them, otherwise there wouldn’t be a complete union of them together. This is how God wants us to be with him in love. Once we are removed from selfish love we can love God with the love with which he has first loved us. St. Catherine takes this transformative love to the highest level:
“The eternal Father said [to me], ‘If you should ask me what this soul is, I would say: she is another me, made so by the union of love.” (Dialogue 96)
By God’s love we become kneaded and knit into our Creator who redeems us and lets us participate in his divine love.
Ultimately, St. Catherine’s love led her to a life of penance and service to her neighbor. There’s no saying it wasn’t a harsh life – she died at age 33 – but it was certainly a life lived in love. She saw all of her actions and penances tied up in the cross of Christ: a tree not of unnecessary torture and grief but a tree of love. St. Catherine wished to graft herself into that tree and so be joined to the fiery love that comes from Christ.