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Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Disputed Section of The Dialogues

Since an on-going conversation about The Dialogues is occurring, it would probably do to have the complete passage available for the complete context of what God told St. Catherine of Siena.

I've therefore typed out the passage from Noffke's translation below.  This should enable easy cutting and pasting.  Also, it seems as though the passage that we are discussing begin and end at the mentions of St. Sylvester, and so it was his name that I used as my guideline for what to cut out.  The mentioning of St. Sylvester was "the dotted line where I should cut" as it were.    

Refer to this passage, if needed.

* * *

From Susanne Noffke's translation of The Dialogues

Consider those who have gone before them: the gentle Gregory, Sylvester, and the other successors of the chief pontiff Peter, to whom my Truth gave the keys of the heavenly kingdom when he said, "Peter, I am giving you the keys of the heavenly kingdom; whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven."

Listen well, dearest daughter. By showing you the magnificence of their virtues I shall show you more fully the dignity to which I have appointed these ministers of mine. This is the keyto the blood of my only-begotten Son, that key which unlocked eternal life, closed for so long a time because of Adam's sin. But after I gave you my Truth, the Word, my only-begotten Son, he suffered and died, and by his death he destroyed your death by letting his blood be a cleansing bath for you. Thus his blood and his death, by the power of my divine nature joined with his human nature, unlocked eternal life.

And to whom did he leave the keys to this blood? To the glorious apostle Peter and to all the others who have come or will come from now until the final judgement day with the very same authority that Peter had. Nor is this authority lessened by any sinfulness on their part; nor can that sinfulness deprive the blood or any other sacrament of its perfection, I have already told you that no uncleanness can defile this Sun, nor is its light lost because of any darkness of deadly sin that may be in the minister or in those who receive it. Their sin cannot injure the sacraments of holy Church or lessen their power. But grace is lessened and sin increased in those who administer or receive them unworthily.

Christ on earth, then, has the keys to the blood. If you remember, I showed you this in an image when I wanted to teach you the respect laypeople ought to have for these ministers of mine, regardless of how good or evil they may be, and how displeased I am with disrespect. You know that I set before you the mystic body of holy Church under the image of a wine cellar. In this wine cellar was the blood of my only-begotten Son, and from this blood all the sacraments derive their life-giving power.

Christ on earth stood at the door of this wine cellar. He had been commissioned to administer the blood, and it was his duty to delegate ministers to help him in the service of the entire universal body of Christianity. Only those accepted and anointed by him were to thus minister. He was the head of the whole clerical order, and he appointed each one to his proper office to administer this glorious blood.

Because he has sent them out as his helpers, it is his task to correct them for their faults, and it is my will that he do so. For by the dignity and authority I have bestowed on them I have freed them from slavery, that is, from submission to the authority of temporal rulers. Civil law has no power whatever to punish them; this right belongs solely to the one who has been appointed to rule and to serve according to divine law. These are my annointed ones, and therefore it has been said through Scripture: "Dare not to touch my christs." Therefore, a person can do no worse violence than to assume the right to punish my ministers.

And if you should ask me why I said that this sin of those who persecute holy Church is graver than any other sin, and why it is my will that the sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them, this is how I would answer you: Because the reverence you pay to them is not actually paid to them but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry. If this were not so, you should pay them as much reverence as to anyone else, and no more. It is this ministry of theirs that dictates that you should reverence them, not for what they are in themselves, but for the power I have entrusted to them, if you would receive the holy sacraments of the Church. For if you refuse these when it is in your power to have them, you would live and die condemned.

So the reverence belongs not to the ministers, but to me and to this glorious blood made one thing with me because of the union of divinity with humanity. And just as the reverence is tone to me, so also is the irreverence, for I have already told you that you must not reverence them for themselves, but for the authority I have entrusted to them. Therefore, you must not sin against them, because if you do, you are really sinning not against them but against me .

This I have forbidden, and I have said that is is my will that no one should touch them.

For this reason, no one has excuse to say, "I am doing no harm, nor am I rebelling against holy Church. I am simply acting against the sin of evil pastors." Such persons are deluded, blinded as they are by their own selfishness. They see well enough, but they pretend not to see so as to blunt the pricking of conscience. If they would look, they could see that they are persecuting not these ministers but the blood. It is me they assault, just as it was me they reverenced. To me redounds every assault they make on my ministers: derision, slander, disgrace, abuse. Whatever is done to them I count as done to me. For I have said and I say it again: No one is to touch my christs. It is my right to punish them, and no one else's.

But the wicked show how little they reverence the blood, how little they value the treasure I have given them for their souls' life and salvation. You could receive no greater gift than that I should give you myself, wholly God and wholly human, as your food.

But by not paying me reverence in the persons of my ministers, they have lost respect for the latter and persecuted them because of the many sins and faults they saw in them. If in truth the reverence they had for them had been for my sake, they would not have cut it off on account of any sin in them. For no sin can lessen the power of this sacrament, and therefore their reverence should not lessen either. When it does, it is against me they sin.

There are many reasons that make this sin more serious than any other, but I will tell you of three principal ones.

The first is that what they do to my ministers they do to me.

The second is that they are violating my command, for I forbade them to touch [my christs]. They scorn the power of the blood they received in holy baptism, for they disobediently do what I have forbidden. They are rebels against the blood because they have become irreverent persecutors, like rotten members cut off from the mystic body of holy Church. And if they persist in this irreverent rebellion and die in it, they will end in eternal damnation. Still, if even at the end they humble themselves and admit their sin and want to be reconciled with their head--even though they cannot do it actually--they will receive mercy. But let no one count on having the time for this, since no one can be certain of it.

The third reason this sin is more serious than any other is that it is committed deliberately and with selfish malice. They know they cannot do it in good conscience, but they do it nonetheless and sin. And it is a sin committed in perverse pride without any bodily pleasure. Indeed, both body and soul are eaten up by it. Their souls are eaten up because they are deprived of grace and chewed up by the worm of conscience. Their material possessions are consumed in the service of the devil. And their bodies die of it like animals.

So this sin is committed directly against me. It is unmitigated by any profit to the sinner or any pleasure except the sooty spite of pride -- a pride born of selfish sensuality and of that perverse slavish fear that led Pilate to kill Christ, my only-begotten Son, rather than risk losing his power. So do these behave.

All other sins are committed either through stupidity or ignorance or through the sort of malice that, though conscious of the evil being done, sins for the sake of disordered pleasure or profit. Such sinners bring harm to their own soul and offend me and their neighbors -- me because they are not praising and glorifying my name, their neighbors because they are not giving them the joy of their charity. But they are not actually persecuting me, because while they are sinning against me, it is themselves they are harming, and their sin displeases me because of the harm it does to them.

But this is a sin committed directly against me. Other sins have some pretext; they are committed with some excuse, with some middle ground--for I told you that every sin as well as every virtue is realized through your neighbors.

Sin is committed through lack of charity for God and your neighbors, and virtue is practiced out of the warmth of charity. If you sin against your neighbors, you sin against me through them.

If you sin against your neighbors, you sin against me through them.

But among all my creatures I have chosen these ministers of mine. They are my anointed ones, stewards of the body and blood of my only-begotten Son -- your human flesh joined with my divinity. When they consecrate they stand in the place of Christ, my Son. So you see, their sin is directed against this Word, and because it is done to him it is done to me, because we are one and the same. These wretches persecute the blood and so deprive themselves of the treasure and fruit of the blood. Thus I consider their sin, committed not against my ministers but against me, the more serious because the persecution as well as the honor is not (nor do I consider it) owed to them but to me, that is, to this glorious blood of my Son, for we are one and the same. Therefore, I tell you, if all the other sins these people have committed were put on one side and this one sin on the other, the one would weigh more in my sight than all the others. I have shown you this so that you would have more reason to grieve that I am offended and these wretched souls damned, so that the bitter sorrow of you and my other servants by my kind mercy might dissolve the great darkness that has come over these rotten members who are cut off from the mystic body of the holy Church.

But I find hardly anyone who will grieve over the persecution that is waged against this glorious precious blood, while there are many who persecute me constantly with the arrows of disordered love and slavish fear and self-conceit. Blind as they are, they count as honor what is shameful, and as shame what is honorable, that is, to humble themselves before their head.

Through these sins they have risen up and continue to rise up to persecute the blood. I spoke the truth when I told you that they are persecuting me. So far as their intention is concerned, they persecute me in whatever way they can.

Not that I in myself can be harmed or persecuted by them, for I am like the rock that is not hurt by what is thrown at it, but glances it back at the one who threw it. Just so, the impact of the filthy sins they hurl can do me no harm, but their arrows glance back at them poisoned with guilt. This guilt deprives them of grace in this life because they lose the fruit of the blood, and in the end, unless they change their ways through heartfelt contrition and holy confession, they will come to eternal damnation, cut off from me and bound over to the devil. They have, in fact, made a compact, they and the devil, for as soon as they have lost grace they are bound in sin with the chain of hatred for virtue and love of vice. And this chain they have put into the devil's hands with their free choice. This is what he binds them with, for in no other way could they be bound.

This chain binds the persecutors of the blood one with the other, and as members bound up with the devil they have taken on the function of the devils. The devils make every effort to lead my creatures astray, to lure then away from grace and drag them down into the guilt of deadly sin so that others may share the evil that is in themselves. This is what such people do, neither more nor less. As the devil's members, they go about undermining the children of the bride of Christ, my only-begotten Son, undoing them from the bond of charity and binding them up in the wretched chain where they will be deprived of the fruit of the blood along with themselves. The links of this chain are pride and self-importance along with the slavish fear that makes them lose grace rather than risk losing their temporal powers. So they fall into greater confusion than ever, since they have forfeited the honor of the blood. Their chain is welded with the seal of darkness, so that they do not recognize into what great trouble and wretchedness they have fallen and are making others fall. this is why they do not change their ways. They do not know themselves, but blind as they are, they take pride in their own spiritual and bodily ruin.

O dearest daughter, grieve without measure at the sight of such wretched blindness in those who, like you, have been washed in the blood, have nursed and been nourished with this blood at the breast of holy Church! Now like rebels they have pulled away from that breast out of fear and under the pretext of correcting the faults of my ministers -- something I have forbidden them to do, for I do not want [my anointed ones] touched by them. What terror should come over you and my other servants when you hear any mention of that wretched chain of theirs! Your tongue could never describe how hateful it is to me! And worse still, they want to take cover under the cloak of my ministers' sins so as to cover up their own sins. They forget that no cloak can hide anything from my sight. They might well be able to hide from creatures, but not from me, for nothing present nor anything at all can be hidden from me.

I loved you and know you before you came into being.

And this is one reason the wicked of this world do not change their ways: they do not believe in truth, by the light of living faith, that I see them. For if they believed in truth that I see them and their sins, and that every sin is punished and every good rewarded, they would not commit such evil but would turn away from what they have done and humbly ask for my mercy. And I, through my Son's blood, would be merciful to them. But they are obstinate, and so they are rejected by my goodness and because of their sins fall into the ultimate disaster of losing the light and, blind as they are, becoming persecutors of the blood. But no fault on the part of the ministers of the blood can justify such persecution.

I have told you, dearest daughter, something of the reverence that ought to be given my annointed ones no matter how sinful they may be. For reverence neither is nor should be given them for what they are in themselves, but only for the authority I have entrusted to them. The sacramental mystery cannot be lessened or divided by their sinfulness. Therefore your reverence for them should never fail--not for their own sake, but because of the treasure of the blood.

Looking to the contrary, I have shown you ever so little how grave and displeasing to me and how harmful to themselves is the irreverence of those who persecute the blood. And I have shown you the compact they have made against me by binding themselves together in the service of the devil, so that you may grieve the more.

I have told you specifically about this sin because of the persecution of holy Church. And I tell you the same of Christianity in general: anyone who lives in deadly sin is scorning the blood and letting go of the life of grace. But much more displeasing to me and serious for themselves is the sin of those of whom I have spoken specifically.

# # #

Now I would refresh your soul by softening your grief over the darksomeness of those wretched ones with the holy lives of my ministers. I have told you that they have taken on the qualities of the Sun, so that the fragrance of their virtues mitigates the stench, and the lightsomeness of the dark. By this very light I would have you know more deeply the sinful darksomeness o fthose other ministers of mine. So open your mind's eye and contemplate me, the Sun of justice, and you shall see these glorious ministers who by their stewardship of the Sun have taken on the qualities of the Sun.

I have told you about Peter, the prince of the apostles, who received the keys of the heavenly kingdom. Just so, I am telling you about others who, in this garden of holy Church, have been stewards of the light, that is, the body and blood of my only begotten Son. He is the one undivided Sun, and all the Church's sacraments derive their value and life-giving power from his blood. All these of whom I am now telling you were appointed by rank according to their state to be stewards of the Holy Spirit's grace. How have they administered it? By the gracious brightness they have drawn from this true light.

Does this brightness exist by itself? No, for neither can the brightness of grace exist by itself nor can its light be divided: One must either have it whole and entire or not have it at all. Anyone living in deadly sin is by that very fact deprived of the light of grace. And anyone who has grace is spiritually enlightened by knowing me, for I am the giver of grace and of the virtue by which grace is preserved. It is in this light that the soul recognizes the wretchedness of sin and its source, sensual selfishness, and therefore hates it. By hating sin and its source she receives the warmth of divine charity into her will, for the will follows understanding. And she receives the color of this glorious light by following the teaching of my gentle Truth, whence her memory is filled in pondering the blessing of his blood.

So you see, it is impossible to receive this light without also receiving its warmth and color, for all three are fused into one and the same thing. Thus it is that the soul cannot have one of her powers disposed to receive me, the true Sun, unless all three of her powers are disposed together in my name. For as soon as the eye of understanding rises above physical sight by the light of faith and contemplates me, the will follows by loving what the eye of understanding has com eto see and know, and the memory is filled with what the will loves. And as soon as these three powers are ready, the soul shares in me, the Sun, by being enlightened by my power and the wisdom of my only-begotten Son and the mercy of the Holy Spirit's fire.

So you see, the soul's powers have taken on the qualities of the sun. In other words, once these powers have been filled and clothed with me, the true Sun, they behave as the sun does. The sun warms and enlightens, and with its heat makes the earth bring forth fruit. So also these gentle ministers of mine, whom I chose and anointed and sent into the mystic body of holy Church to be stewards of me the Sun, that is, of the body and blood of my only-begotten Son along with the other sacraments that draw life from this blood. They administer it both actually and spiritually by giving off within the mystic body of holy Church the brightness of supernatural learning, the color of a holy and honorable life in following the teaching of my Truth, and the warmth of blazing charity. Thus with their warmth they cause barren souls to bring forth fruit, and enlighten them with the brightness of learning. By their holy and well-ordered lives they drive out the darksomeness of deadly sin and unfaithfulness, and set in order the lives of those who had been living disordered lives in the darkness of sin and the cold that came of their lack of charity. So you see how these ministers of mine are suns because they have taken on the qualities of me the true Sun. By love they have been made to be one thing with me and I with them.

They have all, according to the positions I have chosen them for, given light to holy Church: Peter with his preaching and teaching and in the end with his blood; Gregory with his learning and [his knowledge of] Sacred Scripture and the mirror of his living; Sylvester by his struggles against unbelievers and above all in the disputations and argumentations for the holy faith that he made in deeds as well as in words with the power he received from me...


  1. Ding ding ding. The votes are in from the judges. Hirsch wins Round 1! :) Looking forward to Round 2! :)

    The key to the argument, imo: what is the most common opinion of past theologians and spiritual writers, traditionally that is, about the private revelations of St. Catherine of Siena, specifically about what Christ said to her about the laity criticizing the clergy.

    Is there a common understanding of what His words meant? If they are very specific admonitions for the secular State not to persecute the hierarchy, or if His message was more a general warning to everybody to scrupulously avoid criticizing priests and bishops? Have past writers been able reach any kind of agreement on how much Christ's revelations to St. Catherine indicate a very strict refrain from ever publicly criticizing or resisting the hierarchy, regardless of whether or not the Church is in a Crisis and how deep that Crisis is?

    If Catholic-in-Brooklyn can go beyond her own personal interpetation, and can show us past writers have concluded with her point of view, then it would call for pause and reflection. Since St. Catherine's private revelations are of late her main argument against traditional Catholics as a whole group, then the burden is on her to show evidence beyond her own bias.

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