To Sister Daniella of Orvieto
Sister Daniella has found herself in straits again; constrained, it would seem, by the Spirit, to action not endorsed by her religious superiors. Possibly she wished, following the example of Catherine, to leave her cloister and take part in the public life of her time. Catherine herself had been in like straits during much of her early life. Well she knew, as St. Francis knew before her, the suffering of that inward conflict, when the Voice of God summons one way, and the voices of men, reinforced by that instinct of humility and obedience which the middle ages held so dear, insist upon another. She writes to her friend with comprehending sympathy. Daniella, as we have already seen, was a woman who understood her and whom she understood. And it must have been a relief to Catherine, at this point in her career, for once to encourage ardour instead of rebuking sin or seeking to inspire timidity. Our saint is so constantly on the side of obedience, when, as not infrequently happens, some weak brother or sister is restless under the yoke of vows, that we are sure she must know her woman when she writes: "Fear and serve God, disregarding yourself; and then do not care what people say unless it is to feel compassion for them."

We see at the end of the letter that Catherine is on the point of going to Rome. In fact, Urban had summoned her thither, being evidently alive to the advantages of the support of one so famed for sanctity. In Rome the remainder of her life was to be passed.

In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest daughter 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 thee in true and very perfect light, that thou mayest know the truth in perfection. Oh, how necessary this light is to us, dearest daughter! For without it we cannot walk in the Way of Christ crucified, a shining Way that brings us to life; without it we shall walk among shadows and abide in great storm and bitterness. But, if I consider aright, it behoves us to possess two orders of this light. There is a general light, that every rational creature ought to have, for recognizing whom he ought to love and obey -- perceiving in the light of his mind by the pupil of most holy faith, that he is bound to love and serve his Creator, loving Him directly, with all his heart and mind, and obeying the commandments of the law to love God above everything, and our neighbour as ourselves. These are the principles by which all men beside ourselves are held. This is a general light, which we are all bound by; and without it we shall die, and shall follow, deprived of the life of grace, the darkened way of the devil. But there is another light, which is not apart from this, but one with it -- nay, by this first, one attains to the second. There are those who, observing the commandments of God, grow into another most perfect light; these rise from imperfection with great and holy desire, and attain unto perfection, observing both commandments and counsels in thought and deed. One should use this light with hungry desire for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, gazing therewith into the light of the sweet and loving Word, where the soul tastes the ineffable love which God has to His creatures, shown to us through that Word, who ran as enamoured to the shameful death of the Cross, for the honour of the Father and for our salvation.

When the soul has known this truth in the perfect light, it rises above itself, above its natural instincts; with intense, sweet and loving desires, it runs, following the footsteps of Christ crucified, bearing pains, bearing shame, ridicule and insult with much persecution, from the world, and often from the servants of God under pretext of virtue. Hungrily it seeks the honour of God and the salvation of souls; and so much does it delight in this glorious food, that it despises itself and everything else: this alone it seeks, and abandons itself. In this perfect light lived the glorious virgins and the other saints, who delighted only in receiving this food with their Bridegroom, on the table of the Cross. Now to us, dearest daughter and sweet my sister in Christ sweet Jesus, He has shown such grace and mercy that He has placed us in the number of those who have advanced from the general light to the particular -- that is, He has made us choose the perfect state of the Counsels: therefore we ought to follow that sweet and straight way perfectly, in true light, not looking back for any reason whatever; not walking in our own fashion but in the fashion of God, enduring sufferings without fault even unto death, rescuing the soul from the hands of devils. For this is the Way and the Rule that the Eternal Truth has given thee; and He wrote it on His body, not with ink, but with His Blood, in letters so big that no one is of such low intelligence as to be excused from reading. Well thou seest the initials of that Book, how great they are; and all show the truth of the Eternal Father, the ineffable love with which we were created -- this is the truth -- only that we might share His highest and eternal good. This our Master is lifted up on high upon the pulpit of the Cross, in order that we may better study it, and should not deceive ourselves, saying: "He teaches this to me on earth, and not on high." Not so: for He ascended upon the Cross, and uplifted there in pain, He seeks to exalt the honour of the Father, and to restore the beauty of souls. Then let us read heartfelt love, founded in truth, in this Book of Life. Lose thyself wholly; and the more thou shalt lose the more thou shalt find; and God will not despise thy desire. Nay, He will direct thee, and show thee what thou shouldst do; and will enlighten him to whom thou mightest be subject, if thou dost according to His counsel. For the soul that prays ought to have a holy jealousy, and let it always rejoice to do whatever it does with the help of prayer and counsel.

Thou didst write me, and as I understood from thy letter it seems that thou art troubled in heart. And this is not a slight feeling; nay, it is mighty, stronger than any other, when on the one side thou dost feel thyself called by God in new ways, and His servants put themselves on the contrary side, saying that this is not well. I have a very great compassion for thee; for I know not what burden is like that, from the jealousy the soul has for itself; for it cannot offer resistance to God, and it would also fulfil the will of His servants, trusting more in their light and knowledge than in its own; and yet it does not seem able to. Now I reply to thee simply according to my low and poor sight. Do not make up thy mind obstinately, but as thou feelest thyself called without thine own doing, so respond. So, if thou dost see souls in danger, and thou canst help them, do not close thine eyes, but exert thyself with perfect zeal to help them, even to death. And never mind about thy past resolutions to silence or anything else -- lest it be said to thee later: "Cursed be thou, that thou wast silent." Our every principle and foundation is in the love of God and our neighbour alone; all our other activities are instruments and buildings placed on this foundation. Therefore thou shouldst not, for pleasure in the instrument or the building, desert the principal foundation in the honour of God and the love of our neighbour. Work, then, my daughter, in that field where thou seest that God calls thee to work; and do not get distressed or anxious in mind over what I have said to thee, but endure manfully. Fear and serve God, with no regard to thyself; and then do not care for what people may say, except to have compassion on them.

As to the desire thou hast to leave thy house and go to Rome, throw it upon the will of thy Bridegroom, and if it shall be for His honour and thy salvation, He will send thee means and the way when thou art thinking nothing about it, in a way that thou wouldst never have imagined. Let Him alone, and lose thyself; and beware that thou lose thee nowhere but on the Cross, and there thou shalt find thyself most perfectly. But this thou couldst not do without the perfect light; and therefore I said to thee that I desired to see thee in the true and most perfect light, beyond the common light we talked of.

Let us sleep no more! Let us wake from the slumber of negligence, groaning with humble continual prayers, over the mystical Body of Holy Church, and over the Vicar of Christ! Cease not to pray for him, that Christ may give him light and fortitude to resist the strokes of incarnate demons, lovers of themselves, who seek to contaminate our faith. It is a time for weeping.

As to my coming thy way, pray the highest eternal Goodness of God to do what may be for His honour and the salvation of the soul, and pray especially, for I am on the point of going to Rome, to fulfil the will of Christ crucified and of His Vicar. I do not know what way I shall take. Pray Christ sweet Jesus to send us by that way which is most to His honour, in peace and quiet of our souls. I say no more to thee. Remain in the holy and sweet grace of God. Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love.

to giovanna queen of naples
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