To Brother William of England of the Hermit Brothers of St. Augustine
In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

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 in true light. For without light we shall not be able to walk in the way of truth, but shall walk in shadows. Two lights are necessary. First, we must be illumined to know the transitory things of the world, which all pass like the wind. But these are not rightly known if we do not know our own frailty, how inclined it is, from the perverse law which is bound up with our members, to rebel against its Creator. This light is necessary to every rational creature, in whatever state it may be, if it wishes to have divine grace, and to share in the blessing of the Blood of the Spotless Lamb. This is the common light, that everybody in general ought to have, for whoever has it not is in a state of condemnation. This is the reason; that, not having light, he is not in a state of grace; for one who does not know the evil of wrong, nor who is cause of it, cannot avoid it nor hate the cause. So he who does not know good, and virtue the cause of good, cannot love nor desire that good.

The soul must not stay content because it has arrived at gaining the general light; nay, it ought to go on with all zeal to the perfect light. For since men are at first imperfect rather than perfect, they should advance in light to perfection. Two kinds of perfect people walk in this perfect light. There are some who give themselves to castigating their body perfectly, doing very great harsh penance; and that the flesh may not rebel against the reason, they have placed all their desire rather on mortifying their body than on slaying their self-will. These people feed at the table of penitence and are good and perfect; but unless they have a great humility and conform themselves not wholly to judge according to the will of God and not according to that of men, they often wrong their perfection, making themselves judges of those who do not walk in the same way in which they do.

This happens to them because they have put more thought and desire on mortifying their body than on slaying their self-will. Such men as these always want to choose times and places and mental consolations to suit themselves; also, worldly tribulations, and their battles with the devil; saying, through self-deceit, beguiled by their own will -- which is called spiritual self-will -- "I should like this consolation, and not these assaults or battles with the devil; not for my own sake, but to please God, and possess Him more fully, because I seem to possess Him better in this way than in that." Many a time, in such a way as this, the soul falls into suffering and weariness, and becomes unendurable to itself through them, and thus wrongs its state of perfection. The odour of pride clings to it, and this it does not perceive. For, were it truly humble and not presumptuous, it would see well that the Sweet Primal Truth gives conditions, time and place, and consolation and tribulation, according as is needful to our perfection, and to fulfil in the soul the perfection to which it is chosen. It would see that everything is given through love, and therefore with love.

All things ought to be received with reverence, as is done by the second class of people, who abide in this sweet and glorious light, who are perfect in whatever condition they are, and, in so far as God permits them, hold everything in due reverence, esteeming themselves worthy of sufferings and scandals in the world, and of missing their consolations. As they hold themselves worthy of sufferings, so they hold themselves unworthy of the reward which follows suffering. These have known and tasted in the light the eternal will of God, which wishes naught but our good, and that we be sanctified in Him, therefore giving His gifts. When the soul has known this will, it is arrayed therein, and cares for nothing save to see in what wise it can grow, and preserve its condition perfect, for glory and praise of the Name of God. Therefore, it opens the eye of the mind upon its object, Christ crucified, who is rule and way and doctrine for perfect and imperfect: and sees the loving Lamb, Who gives it the doctrine of perfection, which seeing it loves.

Perfection is this: that the Word, the Son of God, fed at the table of holy desire for the honour of God and for our salvation; and with this desire ran with great zeal to the shameful death of the Cross, avoiding neither toil nor labour, not drawing back for the ingratitude and ignorance of us men who did not recognize His benefits, nor for the persecution of the Jews, nor for mockery or insults or criticism of the people, but underwent them all, like our captain and true knight, who was come to teach us His way and rule and doctrine, opening the door with the keys of His precious Blood, shed with ardent love and hatred against sin. As says this sweet, loving Word, "Behold, I have made you a way, and opened the door with My blood. Be you then not negligent to follow it, and do not sit yourselves down in self-love, ignorantly failing to know the Way, and presumptuously wishing to choose it after your own fashion, and not after Mine who made it. Rise up then, and follow Me: for no one can go to the Father but by Me. I am the Way and the Door."

Then the soul, enamoured and tormented with love, runs to the table of holy desire, and sees not itself in itself, seeking private consolation, spiritual or temporal, but, as one who has wholly destroyed his own will in this light and knowledge, refuses no toil from whatever side it comes. Nay, in suffering, in pain, in many assaults from the devil and criticisms from men, it seeks upon the table of the Cross the food of the honour of God and the salvation of men. And it seeks no reward, from God or from fellow-creatures; such men serve God, not for their own joy, and the neighbour not for their own will or profit, but from pure love. They lose themselves, divesting them of the old man, their fleshly desires, and array them in the new man, Christ sweet Jesus, following Him manfully. These are they who feed at the table of holy desire, and have more zeal for slaying their self-will than for slaying and mortifying the body. They have mortified the body, to be sure, but not as a chief aim, but as the tool which it is, to help in slaying self-will; for one's chief aim ought to be and is to slay the will; that it may seek and wish naught save to follow Christ crucified, seeking the honour and glory of His Name, and the salvation of souls. Such men abide ever in peace and quiet; there are none who can offend them, because they have cast away the thing that gives offence -- that is, self-will. All the persecutions which the world and the devil can inflict run away beneath their feet; they stand in the water, made fast to the twigs of eager desire, and are not submerged. Such a man as this rejoices in everything; he does not make himself a judge of the servants of God, nor of any rational creature; nay, he rejoices in every condition and every type that he sees, saying, "Thanks be to Thee, eternal Father, that Thou hast many mansions in Thy House." And he rejoices more in the different kinds of men that he sees than he would do in seeing them all walk in the same way, for so he sees the greatness of God's goodness more manifest. He joys in everything, and gets from it the fragrance of roses. And even as to a thing which he may expressly see to be sin, he does not pose as a judge, but regards it rather with holy true compassion, saying, "To-day it is thy turn, and to-morrow mine, unless it be for divine grace which preserves me."

Oh, holy minds, who feed at the table of holy desire, who have attained in great light to nourish you with holy food, clothed with the sweet raiment of the Lamb, His love and charity! You do not lose time in accepting false judgments, either of the servants of God or of the servants of the world; you do not take offence at any criticism, either against yourselves or others. Your love toward God and your neighbour is governed well, and not ungoverned. And because it is governed, such men as these, dearest son, never take offence at those whom they love; for appearances are dead to them, and they have submitted themselves not to be guided by men, but only by the Holy Spirit. See then, these enjoy in this life the pledge of life eternal.

I wish you and the other ignorant sons to reach this light, for I see that this perfection is lacking to you and to others. For were it not lacking to you, you would not have fallen into such criticism and offence and false judgment, as to say and believe that another man was guided and mastered by the will of the creature and not of the Creator. My soul and my heart grieve to see you wrong the perfection to which God has called you, under pretence of love and odour of virtue. Nevertheless, these are the tares which the devil has sowed in the field of the Lord; he has done this to choke the seed of holy desire and doctrine sowed in your fields. Will then to do so no more, since God has of grace given you great lights; the first, to despise the world; the second, to mortify the body; the third, to seek the honour of God. Do not wrong this perfection with spiritual self-will, but rise from the table of penance and attain the table of the desire of God, where the soul is wholly dead to its own will, nourishing itself without suffering on the honour of God and the salvation of souls, growing in perfection and not wronging it.

Therefore, considering that this condition cannot be had without light, and seeing that you had it not, I said that I desired and desire to see you in true and perfect light. Thus I pray you, by the love of Christ crucified -- you and Brother Antonio and all the others -- that you struggle to win it, so that you may be numbered among the perfect and not among the imperfect. I say no more. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. I commend me to all of you. Bathe you in the Blood of Christ crucified. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

letters on the consecrated life
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