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Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
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CHAPTER II

She is wounded with divine love in the presence of her confessor. Manifestations of the love of God and of her own offences. The Lord appears to her carrying his cross, and she is taken up three degrees toward God.

The day following the feast of St Benedict, Catherine, at the instance of her sister, who was a nun, went to confession at the convent of the latter, although she had no desire to do so; but her sister said to her: “At least go to obtain the blessing of our confessor,” for he was indeed a holy man. The moment she knelt before him, she was wounded so forcibly with the love of God, and received so clear a revelation of her misery and faults, and of the goodness of God, that she had well nigh fallen to the ground.

Overpowered by these emotions, and by her sense of the offences she had committed against her dear Lord, she was so drawn away by her purified affections from the miseries of the world, that she became almost beside herself; and without ceasing, internally repented to herself, in the ardor of love: “No more would, no more sin.” And at that moment if she had possessed a thousand worlds, she would have thrown them all away.

Through the ardent flame of burning love with which she was enkindled, her good God, by his grace, impressed instantly upon that soul, and infused into it, all perfection, purging it of all earthly affections, illuminating it with a divine light by which she was enabled to perceive with her interior eye, his goodness; and in a word, united her with himself, and changed and transformed her entirely by the true union of a good will, inflaming her wholly with his burning love.

The saint while in the presence of her confessor lost entirely all consciousness through this sweet wound of love, so that she could not speak; but her confessor was not yet aware of this when he chanced to be called out, and left her so overwhelmed with grief and love, that she said to him, with great difficulty, when he returned: “With your consent, father, I will leave my confession till another time;” and she did so. Returning home, she was so on fire and wounded with the love which God had interiorly manifested to her, together with the view of her miseries, that, as if beside herself, she went into a private chamber, and gave vent to her burning tears and sighs.

At that moment she was instructed interiorly in prayer, but her lips could only utter: “oh Love! can it be that you have called me with so much love, and revealed to me at one view, what no tongue can describe?” For many days she could only utter herself in sighs, and wonderfully deep they were; and so great was her contrition for her offences against such infinite goodness, that if she had not been miraculously supported, her heart would have broken, and she would have died.

But when our Lord saw this soul still more interiorly inflamed with his love, and filled with sorrow for her sins, he appeared to her in spirit, with the cross upon his shoulder, dripping with blood which she saw was shed wholly for love, and this vision so inflamed her heart, that she was more than ever lost in love and grief.

This vision made such an impression upon her that she seemed always to see with her bodily eyes, her bleeding Love, nailed to the cross. Very plainly too did she see all the offences she had committed against him, and cried out continually: “Oh Love, no more sin, no more sin!” Her hatred of herself became so great, that filled with disgust she exclaimed: “Oh Love, if it be necessary I am prepared to make a public confession of my sins.”

After this she made her general confession with such contrition and compunction, that her soul was at once cleansed of its sins, for God had pardoned them all, consuming them in the flames of love, with which he had already wounded her heart; yet, to satisfy justice he led her through the way of satisfaction, permitting that this contrition and self-knowledge should continue for nearly fourteen months; and when she had made satisfaction, relieved her of the sight of her sins so entirely that she never beheld again the least of them, no more than if they had all been cast into the depths of the sea.

At that moment of her vocation, when she was wounded at the feet of her confessor, she seemed to be drawn to the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in spirit beheld all the graces, means, and ways, by which the Lord, in his pure love, had brought her to conversion. In this light she remained for more than a year, relieving her conscience by means of contrition, confession, and satisfaction.

She felt herself drawn with St. John, to rest on the bosom of her loving Lord, and there she discovered a sweeter way which contained in itself many secrets of the bounteous love which was consuming her, so that she was often beside herself; and in her intense eagerness, her hatred of self, and her deep contrition, she would lick the earth with her tongue, and so great was the wain of contrition, and the sweetness of love, that she knew not what she was doing; but she felt her heart lightened, occupied with unbounded, poignant grief, and the sweet ardor of love. Thus she remained for three years or more, melted with love and grief, and with the deep and burning flames that were consuming her heart.

Then she was drawn to the open wound in the side of the crucified Lord, and there she was allowed to see the Sacred heart of her Lord burning with the same flames with which her own was enkindled; at the sight of this, her heart died within her, and her strength abandoned her. This impression remained for many years which were spent by her, in continual sighs, and burning flames, so that her heart and soul were well nigh melted, and she was constrained to cry out: “I have no longer either soul or heart; but my soul and my heart are those of my Beloved;” and in him she was wholly absorbed and transformed.

Finally, her sweet and loving Lord drew her to himself, and bestowed upon her a caress, by the power of which she was entirely immersed in that sweet Divinity to which she abandoned herself exteriorly, so that she exclaimed: “I live no longer, but Christ lives in me.” She knew no longer whether her mere human acts were good or bad, but saw all things in God.

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