Temptations of St. Catherine of Sienna

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Temptations of St. Catherine of Sienna

St. Catherine of Sienna, that favourite spouse of our Blessed Lord, who bore in her body the stigmata or marks of the Sacred Wounds, was at one time of her life subject to the most violent temptations of Satan. That wicked spirit, envious of the angelic purity of her soul, was wont to fill her mind with filthy imaginations, and to assail her heart with the most impure temptations. Unceasingly did she call on God for help, but she seemed to receive no answer. Her mind was obscured with frightful darkness, and she seemed on the very brink of the precipice. Often, indeed, she was unable to distinguish between temptation and consent, but an invisible hand always preserved her from falling. Upon one occasion after the temptations had ceased, our Blessed Lord came to visit her, filling her with heavenly consolations. “Ah, my Divine Spouse,” she cried out, “where wast Thou when I lay in such an abandoned and frightful condition?” “I was with thee,” he replied. “What,” said she, “in the midst of the filthy abominations with which my soul was filled?” “Yes,” answered our Lord, “for these temptations were most displeasing and painful to thee. By fighting against them thou hast gained immense merit, and the victory was owing to my presence.” Thus did St. Catherine learn that God is never nearer to us than when we appear the most abandoned, and that He is never wanting to those who call upon Him with humility and confidence.–Butler’s Saints’ Lives.

A Prayer in Temptation
from the Imitations of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Enlighten me, O good Jesus, with the brightness of eternal light, and cast out of darkness from the dwelling of my heart.

Restrain my many wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations that violently assault me.

Fight strongly for me and overcome these wicked beasts–Lev. xxvi. 6, I mean these alluring concupiscences, that there may be peace in Thy strength–Ps. CXXI. 7. and the abundance of Thy praise may resound in Thy holy court, which is a clean conscience.

Command the winds and storms; say to the sea: Be thou still; and to the north wind: Blow thou not; and a great calm shall ensue.–Matt. viii. 26.

St. Catherine of Sienna

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St. Catherine of Sienna, Virgin

Sienna, in the Tuscan district, is the favored place where, in 1347, St. Catherine first saw the light of this world. Her life from her childhood, was a continual exercise of the choicest virtues, but at the same time, a perpetual communication of divine grace. When scarcely five years of age she was called “the little Saint” on account of her quietness and her love of prayer. Already at that time she greeted the Virgin Mother upon every step of the staircase with the words of the Angels: “Ave Maria!” When six years old, our Lord appeared to her with the Apostles Peter, Paul and John, together with St. Dominic, looked tenderly at her and gave His blessing. This was the beginning of many and extraordinary visions with which the holy virgin was graced until her death. Her heart from this time was filled with intense love of God. She read most carefully the lives of the Saints, and endeavored to follow their example. In her seventh year she consecrated her virginity to God. Her only pleasure was solitude, prayer, work and self-immolation. Persuaded by her sister, she once began to pay more attention to her dresses and to curl her hair after the prevailing fashion of the world. This lasted, however, only a short while, for she became aware during her prayers how much God was displeased with such vanities and how long her pious sister would have to suffer on account of it in purgatory: hence she refrained from it and repented of her folly as long as she lived. Her parents desired her to marry; but she replied: “I am already wedded to a most noble spouse and shall never bestow my love on a human being;” and cutting off her hair she covered her head with a veil. To drive all thoughts of entering a convent out of her mind, her parents burdened her with the entire care of the house, as well as the hardest work, so that no leisure was left her, either for prayer, or devotional reading. This was at first a sore trial to her, but she was told by Christ to build a cell in her heart, where, in the midst of her employments she might pray, namely, by offering her work to God and by pious ejaculations. Following these directions of Christ, her soul became filled with sweet consolation, and she manifested, under the greatest drudgery, a most extraordinary happiness. This caused her parents to change their resolution, and they permitted her to live according to her vocation. Hence, she now began to live in a more retired manner, and with more austerity than before.
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