Dearest son in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you founded upon the Living Rock, Christ sweet Jesus, so that the building you shall raise on it may never be overthrown by any contrary wind that may strike you, but may endure wholly solid, firm, and stable, even till your death upon the Way of Truth. Oh, how we need this true and royal foundation -- not known of my ignorance! for did I truly know it, I should not build upon myself, who am worse than sand, but upon that Living Rock I spoke of. Following Christ upon the way of shame and outrage and insult, I should deprive me of every consolation from whatever source, within or without, to conform myself with Him. I would not seek myself for my own sake, but would care only for the honour of God, the salvation of souls, and the reform of Holy Church, whom I see in so great need! Me miserable, who am doing quite the contrary! But though I do wrong, dearest son, I would not that you and the others did; nay, I desire to see you founded on this Rock. Now the hour is come that proves who is a servant of God, and whether men shall seek themselves for their own sake, and God for the private consolation they find in Him, and their neighbours for their own sake in so far as they see consolations in them -- yes, or no, and whether we are to believe that God may be found only in one place and not in another. I do not see that this is so -- but find that to the true servant of God every place is the right place and every time is the right time. So when the time comes to abandon his own consolations and embrace labours for the honour of God, he does it; and when the time comes to flee the wood for need of the honour of God, he does it, and betakes him to public places, as did the blessed St. Antony, who although he supremely loved solitude, yet deserted it many times to comfort the Christians. And so I might tell of many other saints. This has always been the habit of the true servants of God, to emerge in time of need and adversity, but not in the time of prosperity -- nay, that they flee. There is no need to flee just now, through fear lest our great prosperity make our hearts sail away in the wind of pride and vainglory; for there is no one who can glory now otherwise than in labours. But light seems to be failing us, dazzled as we are by our consolations and the hope we place in special revelations -- things which do not let us know the truth rightly, though we act in good faith. But God, who is highest and eternal Goodness, gives us perfect and true light. I enlarge no more on this matter.
It appears, from the letter which Brother William has sent me, that neither he nor you is coming here. I do not intend to reply to this letter: but I grieve much over his simplicity, for little honour to God or edification to his neighbour results from it. For if he is unwilling to come from humility and fear of forfeiting his peace, he ought to exercise the virtue of humility, by asking permission from the Vicar of Christ humbly and with gentleness, entreating his Holiness graciously to permit him to stay in his wood, for his greater peace, nevertheless, as one truly obedient, submitting the matter to his will. Thus he would be more pleasing to God, and would secure his own good. But he seems to have done just the contrary, alleging that a person who is bound to divine obedience ought not to obey his fellow-creatures. As to other people, I should care very little; but that he should include the Vicar of Christ, this does grieve me much, to see him so discordant with truth. For divine obedience never prevents us from obedience to the Holy Father: nay, the more perfect the one, the more perfect is the other. And we ought always to be subject to his commands and obedient unto death. However indiscreet obedience to him might seem, and however it should deprive us of mental peace and consolation, we ought to obey; and I consider that to do the opposite is a great imperfection, and deceit of the devil. It appears from what he writes that two servants of God have had a great revelation, to the effect that Christ on earth, and whoever advised him to send for these servants of God, followed human and not divine counsel, and that it was rather the instigation of the devil than the inspiration of God that made them wish to drag their servants from their peace and consolations: adding that if you and the others came you would lose your spiritual life, and thus would be of no help in prayer, and unable to stand by the Holy Father in spirit. Now really, the spiritual life is quite too lightly held if it is lost by change of place. Apparently God is an acceptor of places, and is found only in a wood, and not elsewhere in time of need! Then what shall we say -- we who, on the one hand, wish that the Church of God be reformed, the thorns uprooted, and the fragrant flowers the servants of God planted there; and, on the other hand, we are told that to send for them, and drag them from their mental peace and quiet in order that they may come to help that little Ship is a wile of the devil? At least, let a man speak for himself, and not speak of the other servants of God -- for among the servants of the world we are not to count ourselves. Not thus have done Brother Andrea of Lucca, nor Brother Paolina, those great servants of God, old men and far from well, who have lived such a long time in their peace: but at once, with all their weariness and disabilities they put themselves on the road, and have come, and fulfilled their obedience: and although desire constrains them to return to their cells, they are not therefore willing to throw off the yoke, but say: "What I have said, be it unsaid!" -- disregarding their self-will and their personal consolations. One comes here to endure: not for honours, but for the dignity of many labours, with tears, vigils and continual prayers; thus should one do. Now let us not weigh ourselves down with more words. May God by His mercy send us clear vision, and guide us in the way of truth, and give us true and perfect light, that we may never walk among shadows. I beg you, you and the Bachellor, and the other servants of God, to pray the Humble Lamb that He make me walk in His Way. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.