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Excerpts from 'Devotional Classics' edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) Introduction to the Author Catherine was born into a prominent religious family; her father was the viceroy of Naples and two of his family had been popes. In 1463 she married Guiliano Adorno, a wealthy but worldly man with whom she had little in common. After 10 years of living a worldly life, she converted to the contemplative life. her husband had lost his fortune so with the remaining income they lived among the poor in Genoa. Her husband became a member of the 3rd order of st. Francis and he and Catherine worked among the poor and sick. In 1479 they begun working full time in a nearby hospital. A year later her husband died and she became the matron of the hospital. Catherine of Genoa was a woman whose spirituality ran deep. Her love for God was matched only by her love for others. Though her writings are full of life and fervor, creative and inspiring, she is best known for her acts of charity. her main work 'Life and Teachings' along with her 'Dialogues' were her most important literary contributions. As you will note, she was a woman with a keen insight into the pure love of God and the human struggle to accept that love. Excerpts from 'Life and Teaching' 1. Little by little The creature is incapable of knowing anything except what God gives to it from day to day. If it knew beforehand what God intended for it, it would never be at peace. At times, I have thought my love for God was complete, but later as my sight grew clearer I became aware that I had many imperfections. I did not recognize them at first because God's love for me had it planned that I would achieve it little by little for the sake of preserving me and keeping me humble so as to be tolerable to myself and to others. 2. The keys of my house Our self will is so subtle and so deeply rooted within our own selves and defends itself with so many reasons, that when we try to fight against it, we manage to lose in the end. We end up doing our own will under the cover of charity, necessity or justice. But God's love wills to stand naked and without any cover since it has nothing to hide. I have seen this love. Indeed, everyday I feel myself more occupied with Him, and I feel a greater fire within me. It is as if I have given the keys to my house to Love with permission to do all that is necessary. i became so consumed with this love that as I stood contemplating this work within me, I felt that even if I were cast into hell, hell itself would have appeared to me all love and consolation. 3. Living without self-will God and sin cannot live peaceably side by side. After considering things as they truly are, I felt a desire to live without self-will. When God gives light to the soul, it no longer desires to live with that part of it that continues to block the light. the soul desires to offer itself entirely to God so that it can no longer live except in the manner willed by His tender love. In this manner, it will begin to produce works that are pure, full and sincere. These are works that are pleasing to God. 4. Renouncing the care of ourselves I then saw others who were fighting against their evil inclinations and forcing themselves to resist them. But I saw that the more they struggled against them, the more they committed them. So I said to them 'You are right in lamenting your sins. And I would be lamenting with you if it were not for the fact that God is holding me. You cannot defend yourself and I cannot defend myself. they thing we must do is renounce the care of ourselves unto God who can defend our true self. Only then can God do for us that we cannot do ourselves. 5. Content to wait upon God God gives us His light in an instant, allowing us to know all that we need to know. No more is given to us than is needed in His plan to lead us to perfection. We cannot seek this light; it is given to us by God and only as He chooses. Therefore, I will not weary myself with seeking beyond what God wants me to know. Instead I will abide in His peace with the understanding God has given to me and I will let this occupy my mind. If we are to see properly we must pluck out of our eyes our own presumption.. Pride will blind many of us who want to know too much. When God finds a soul who is resting in Him and is not so easily moved, He operates within him in His own manner. That should allows God to do great things in him. he gives to each such soul the key to the treasures He has prepared for him so that he might enjoy God forever. And to this soul God gives the joy of His presence which entirely absorbs the soul. 6. Steadfast trust May this be our prayer 'I do not want to turn my eyes from you, O God. There I want them to stay and not to move no matter what happens to me, within or without.' For those who trust in God need not worry about themselves. As I think about you, I see God's pure love is attentive to all your needs. It is because of His tender love that I need not ask anything of God for you, only lift you up before His face. Read: Luke 16:19-31 Reflection 1. Catherine notes our limitations concerning our self-awareness. As you look back at your own life, were there times when you thought you had attained some level of wisdom only to realize later that you were not as wise as you thought? Describe. 2. Our self-will is subtle, writes Catherine, that we often end up doing our own will under many covers, such as charity or necessity or justice. In what ways have you noticed that your selfless acts done for others were actually selfish acts done mainly for yourself? What is Catherine's solution to this? 3. When God finds a soul that rests in Him and is not easily moved, He operates within it in His own manner. That soul allows God to do great things within it. In what ways are you learning to rest in God and not be easily moved? In what ways are you preventing God from doing great things within you? 4. The rich man thinks his family would repent if only they could see Lazarus raised from the dead. What is Abraham's response? What kind of miracle would it take for you to begin investing all your energies in God? 5. The way to overcome our subtle self-will, Catherine says, is to give the keys of our house to God, letting Him have control. This week give God the keys to all the rooms in your house; do not let merely invite Him in as an occasional quest, but let Him become the Owner of the house. 6. The Bible text deals with our understanding of heaven and hell. Spend some time meditating on where you will spend eternity. As Catherine warns, do not let fear become your main motivating factor in living a godly life, but rather let your desire for God become more and more central in all you do.

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